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RTCA/DO-160 Section 25 Electrostatic Discharge for Airborne Equipment


Cabin electronic equipment can be effected by electrostatic discharge due to environmental and installation conditions, such as low relative humidity and the use of poor or nonconductive materials for carpets, seat textiles, arm rests, etc., which exist in all locations within the aircraft. For ESD testing, different Human Body Models, such as the MIL-STD-833 and the RTCA DO-160D (comparable to IEC 1000-4-2) were applied to the passenger entertainment system to reproduce the same system failures observed by different customers. Comparison of the models showed that only the contact discharge with a modified network of the DO-160D standard is the appropriate test method to recreate the problems observed on current equipment and to obtain reproducible test results. Therefore, it is recommended that section 25 of the DO-160D for cabin electronic equipment be modified.

Revision Changes

With the most recent version of RTCA/DO-160G being released in late 2014, a note was added that ESD connection point is not applicable to connector pins. It also added an expansion of type and of the list of test points to be considerered. Lastly, it addresses the case of no discharge.

From RTCA/DO-160D, RTCA/DO-160D and RTCA/DO-160F, no significant changes to Section 25 were made.

From Revision C to Revision D a new section was added to address device level susceptibility issues for ESD.

*DO-160G is recognized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as de facto international standard ISO-7137


ESD Generators for RTCA/DO-160

The ESD generator requires a discharge resistor of 330 ohms (±20%) and an energy storage capacitor of 150 pf (±20%), and shall be capable of generating a pulse of 15,000 volts, in both positive and negative polarities. The ESD generator shall also have a standard air discharge tip. The ESD generator shall be calibrated to produce a positive and negative 15,000 volt (+10%, -0%) peak output pulse. The generator setting required to produce this output shall be recorded.

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