REACH(1), A Pivotal Year

This year will be decisive for the implementation of the EU’s REACH regulation. Solid foundations have been laid and the project is now entering its operational phase.

© Nicolas Gouhier
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REACH is laying the groundwork for a broader goal, which is to eliminate every potentially hazardous substance used on helicopters. Eliminating these substances doesn’t just involve finding a substitute, but certifying that the substitute provides the same level of performance.

In 2008, the priority was to pre-register the substances used by Eurocopter. The accent was also placed on compiling a list of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) under REACH. Based on the Candidate List of the European Chemical Agency(2), this classification work identified the priority substances and established a plan of action to ensure their traceability all along the supply chain. Plans for the substitution of substances and future investments were also defined.
The goals for 2009 are different: This year Eurocopter must manage and build a durable supply chain, which will primarily require improved traceability of substances all along their life cycle (including, in particular, radioactive substances or even substances targeted by the RoHS(3) directive).
The stated goals are to avoid disruption of supply and to provide customers and authorities with all the mandatory environmental information. Secondly, plans for the substitution of substances or future investments will be implemented for the Substances of Very High Concern identified on the list. To meet these two goals, the reference documentation must be made more comprehensive and integrated in the existing tools.
And representatives from the Purchasing, Procurement, Health, Safety & Environment departments, the Materials & Processes Laboratory, and the Design Office will join the REACH project where they will have more of a say in how things are run.
In the longer term, REACH is laying the groundwork for a broader goal, which is to eliminate every potentially hazardous substance used on helicopters. Eliminating these substances doesn’t just involve finding a substitute, but certifying that the substitute provides the same level of performance. This gives one an idea of the scope of the task and its impact on every step in the development of a product: From the earliest work at the Design Office (substituting the hazardous substances right from the get-go) through to customer delivery (informing customers where any potentially hazardous substances are located on the aircraft).
REACH is not therefore just about bringing substances into conformity with the regulations, but is providing the framework for a more strategic analysis of how helicopters are designed, built, sold and operated. This is a great chance for Eurocopter to put together a very persuasive sales offer and to turn a limitation into a golden opportunity.

(1) Registration Evaluation Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals
(2) Regulatory list of the 14 Substances of Very High Concern
(3) Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances in electrical and electronic equipment


ARTICLE: PIERRE-STÉPHANE BENATI / CHRISTIAN DA SILVA

Eurocopter is doing everything to comply with environmental regulations.