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Fowler Associates Labs



Static Fire Stories Articles & Technical Papers Current News


Bruce Stephens - Sr. Electromagnetic Effects Engineer

Raytheon Aircraft Companyís policies and procedures state that protection of this electronic equipment is important. In addition, engineering specifications spell out proper procedures required to obtain the protection of the high dollar electronic equipment, and training programs teach employees the importance of handling this equipment. However, without an electrostatic champion or champions in the organization none of these important issues are implemented. The purpose of this presentation will be to show the gradual steps needed to change the culture of Raytheon Aircraft Company from a metal bending thinking organization to a world class electrostatic protection organization.

As a part of an Invisible Foreign Objects Elimination (IFOE) avionics/electrical process improvement steering team, sponsored by the CEO at Raytheon Aircraft Company, an Electrostatic Device Sensitive (ESDS) sub team was formed to improve this critical process company-wide. IFOE, by the way, is like the Foreign Objects Elimination Program, which stresses removal of dirt, trash, and other objects from the aircraft before delivery to the customer. The Invisible portion of FOE relates to removing electrical interference problems from the aircraft. Electricity is invisible; therefore the program was termed IFOE. The ESDS team is multifunctional in nature with the best of the best in the area of ESDS selected as team members. The team studied the "As Is" ESDS process verses the "Should Be" ESDS process. The "As Is" process information was obtained from interviews with shop floor employees, quality employees, engineers, and others. Actually talking, listening, and watching the employees on the shop floor revealed valuable information about the current process as related to ESDS. This information was compared to the requirements contained in the companyís ESDS documents as well as documents external to the company. Benchmarking other companies was another of the sub teamís tasks. Recommendations were then made to the IFOE Steering Team and also to all Vice Presidents of affected areas.

Improvement results came about slowly. The ESDS Team recommended awareness training for every employee in the company, and that a more elaborate training program was required for those employees who handled the ESDS components on a daily basis. It was found that training employees without the proper equipment to perform ESDS processes was very ineffective. Also, improving one area was not the key to achieving a world class ESDS Program. This was because the component could be damaged in the next process, destroying any prior prevention techniques. The entire company, as well as the external field repair centers, all had to be compliant or the customer would suffer from ESDS inflicted failures.

In conclusion, the Raytheon Aircraft Company is a $2.6 billion dollar a year air transportation business and growing. The company produces 400 aircraft per year with each unit containing over $1 million dollars worth of avionics/electrical equipment, which is vulnerable to ESDS damage. Raytheon Aircraft Company faces much tougher market competition and customer requirements are becoming more demanding every day. These facts require that the quality of our ESDS processes must improve. Also, with the sophistication of new electronic components being introduced today, proper ESDS handling processes are essential. We believe millions of dollars reported from warranty field failures and internal scrap and rework can be attributed to improper ESDS handling processes. Through teamwork and upper management support, we at Raytheon Aircraft Company are continuing to improve our ESDS practices and are just now beginning to see a best in the industry ESDS program that really does work.


If you wish a detailed explanation of the ESD program at Raytheon, please email Bruce at


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