Aviation, Space, & Defense Quality Management

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AS9100 – How Did It Start?

Prior to AS9100 aerospace-specific standard being established, companies used ISO 9001, Boeing’s D1-9000, or the automotive QS9000 standards to govern their quality management system. This caused confusion in the industry and made it hard for end-product aerospace companies to understand the quality systems of their suppliers.

In the late 1990s, major aerospace manufacturers (Boeing, Airbus, BAE, GE, Lockheed, etc.) assembled International Aerospace Quality Group (IAGQ) to create a single unified standard based on ISO 9001, which resulted in what is now AS9100. The first revision of AS9100 was released in 1999, with Revision A coming in 2001, Revision B in 2004, Revision C in 2009, and most recently Revision D in 2016.

The sections of the AS9100 standard:

  • Section 1 – Scope
  • Section 2 – Normative Reference
  • Section 3 – Terms and definitions
  • Section 4 – Context of the Organization
  • Section 5 – Leadership
  • Section 6 – Planning
  • Section 7 – Support
  • Section 8 – Product Realization
  • Section 9 – Operation
  • Section 10 – Performance Evaluation

What Type Of Businesses Are Certified To AS9100?

Typical businesses that certify to the standard are as follows:

  • Suppliers to the aerospace industry
  • Companies that provide post-delivery support or service

Companies that provide post-delivery support or service

AS9100 provides the necessary guidance to improve system efficiently, process quality, identify risks, and boost customer satisfaction. Additionally, the system provides excellent guidance for the identification and remediation of waste in the system. A poll of companies currently certified to AS9100 was performed to understand their reason for certification. The top five reasons were as follows:

  • Reducing costs
  • Access to new markets
  • Internal operational efficiency
  • Lower production costs due to less scrap, rework, and rejection rates
  • Customer request.

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What Type Of Auditing Does AS9100 Require?

Becoming and maintaining certification to the AS9100 standard requires two types of auditing, which are very similar to ISO 9001:
1. Internal Audits – Audits by internal or contracted staff that are specifically trained to the AS9100 standard and internal procedures/requirements.
2. External Audits – Auditing by an external certification body

Internal Auditing is key to understanding compliance of the company to the requirements of the AS9100 standard. It requires review and assessment to verify that the current quality system is effective – and if not, to correct and prevent any identified issues. AS9100 has very clear requirements regarding the internal audit process, as evidenced by the excerpt below from Section 9.2.2:

“The organization shall:

a). plan, establish, implement, and maintain an audit program(s) including the frequency, methods, responsibilities, planning requirements, and reporting, which shall take into consideration the importance of the processes concerned, changes affecting the organization, and the results of previous audits;
b. define the audit criteria and scope for each audit;
c. select auditors and conduct audits to ensure objectivity and the impartiality of the audit process;
d. ensure that the results of the audits are reported to relevant management;
e. take appropriate correction and corrective actions without undue delay;
f. retain documented information as evidence of the implementation of the audit program and the audit results.”

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