Indium Blog

Solder Joint Failure Implicated in AirAsia Flight 8501 Crash

  • Solder Reliability

  • Folks,

    Let's check in on Patty......

    Patty walked down to the Professor’s office to discuss the Reliability Engineering workshop and certification program she was creating.  It was going to be an extension of the Ivy U Lean Six Sigma Program.  She had spent over 60 hours developing the 3 day workshop and was quite pleased with it. And, she definitely learned a lot while designing it.  She had also just finished the certification exam to go along with the workshop.

    “So, what do you think of the workshop?” Patty asked the Professor.

    “As usual, you did a great job!” the Professor said, chuckling a little.

    “You used O’Connor’s “Practical Reliability Engineering” textbook, what did you think of it?” he went on.

    “It is a great book. It was so thorough that I really didn’t need any other sources,” Patty replied.

    The Professor continued, “I especially liked that you covered the topic for all points such as Design for Reliability (DfR), Manufacturing for Reliability, Reliability Testing, Analysis of Reliability Data, and, of course, my favorite reliability topic, Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) and the ever important Risk Priority Number (RPN).  You know FMEA and RPN can help engineers when they are confronted with a seemingly intractable reliability problem like tin whiskers.”

    Patty chuckled to herself. The Professor had mentioned his passion for FMEA and RPN numerous times.

    “Yes. I’m aware of your support for using FMEA and RPN,” Patty dutifully answered.

    “By the way, did you see the news about the AirAsia Flight 8501?” The Professor asked.

    “No. I was in a rush this morning to get the boys to daycare and didn’t have time to check the news,” Patty replied.

    “Well, a failed solder joint was implicated,” the Professor said.

    “Wow! That is disturbing,” Patty quickly answered.

    “Apparently, the solder joint failure caused problems with the control of the plane.  The investigation concluded that the pilots could have regained proper control of the plane, but they did not take the right actions. The report blamed this lack of pilot skill to poor training,” the Professor added.

    “But still, if the solder joint had not failed, there would have been no crash?” Patty asked.

    “That’s correct. This sad event demonstrates the importance to those of us in electronics assembly to have the most reliable designs, manufacturing processes, materials, and robust testing methodologies.  Your reliability engineering workshop and certification have never been more needed,” the Professor concluded.

    Best regards,

    Dr. Ron