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Monday, 13 September 2010

AS9100 Quality Management Standards for Aerospace

ISO9001 has been a good quality standard across many industries and has been used in aerospace to great effect, albeit with additions.

To meet the exacting standards  in aerospace the major aircraft manufacturers and IAQG (International Aerospace Quality Group) developed AS9100; based on ISO9001:2008 this standard fills the gap between military standards and the commercial ISO9001 quality management standard.  It makes good sense to have one aerospace standard for conformity to best practice; AS9100 is that standard.

AS9100  v  ISO 9001

Manufacturing an item as complicated and critical as an aircraft or space vehicle requires special attention during all the production processes.  A great deal of attention is placed on documentation and drawing control to ensure that the current revision of engineering drawings, part lists and test and inspection specifications is being used.  This 'configuration control'  is covered in far more depth than ISO9001,  as is identification and traceability.  The paperwork trail is vital following an incident or accident and these documents are always quarantined immediately by an accident or incident board of enquiry.

The AS9100 standard provides guidance for key characteristic management in both material, and process control. Clearly there is a good deal of emphasis on the design and development of the final structure as well as components used in that structure, the AS9100 standard includes additional references in design and development functions.   Explanatory notes are included for both design and development verification and validation highlighting traditional areas of emphasis. Additionally,  AS9100 provides information on areas of verification documentation and validating testing and results.

One area which receives greater attention is the inspection area, particularly the first off in a batch of items.  This is called first article inspection in AS9100.  The standard also gives guidelines for actions to be taken when it all goes wrong.  Any faulty part, which is scrap, must be put beyond use before disposition.

This standard can be applied in the following forms:
  • AS 9100 - Quality Management System requirements for Design and/or manufacture of aerospace products
  • AS 90110 - Quality Management System requirements for maintenance and repair operations
  • AS 9120 - Quality Management System requirements for Stockists and distributors
Assessment and certification is carried out by properly accredited and competent assessors. The assessment is of necessity, more in depth than ISO9001 and the reporting is far stricter.  The assessor scores each item against a prepared score card; at the end of the assessment the scores are totalled and a decision to pass or require additional work to be carried out is made.  One major difference in the assessment is that no corrective action may take place during the assessment, unlike ISO9001.  Any CAP (corrective action plan) must take place afterwards.

Inevitably main suppliers who achieve certification to AS9100 will then require their sub-contractors and suppliers to achieve the standard as well.

Once accredited these organisations are featured in OASIS (the IAQG  Online Aerospace Supplier Information System).

Quality Matters can assist organisations to achieve certification to these standards.

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