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Monday, 18 August 2014

AS9100 Aerospace and Defence Standard

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

Monday, 4 August 2014

ISO Management Systems and Non UKAS Certification Companies

"The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS)  is the sole national accreditation body recognised by government to assess, against internationally agreed standards, organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services. Accreditation by UKAS demonstrates the competence, impartiality and performance capability of these evaluators."

We have noticed that there are an increasing number of non-accredited organisations offering certification to various management standards, often at  a cheap rate.  Many offer to introduce, document and assess for a fixed fee and then issue a certificate of compliance. 

It is not always obvious that the certificates issued by these companies are not accepted as compliance to those standards but merely confirm that they are "certified" by that company.

A certificate of conformance to ISO9001:2008 or other Management Standards issued in the UK by a UKAS Accredited Certification Body guarantees that the organisation meets the requirements of the Standard. It will be accepted by everyone as evidence of compliance. Unfortunately a certificate issued by one of the non-UKAS companies does not.

The reason that UKAS accredited certification bodies offer the "real deal" is that they are regulated and inspected by UKAS and a certificate bearing the UKAS Logo is evidence that true compliance has been achieved

UKAS regulations state that consultancy and certification must be independent from each other.  The non UKAS companies are not governed or regulated, set up the system and then assess it; how could they fail?

We firmly believe that it should be illegal to claim that an organisation meets the requirements of this Standard or any other when it does not;  in the same way that it is illegal to claim that a product does something that it clearly does not (Trade Descriptions Act).

Look for the UKAS mark when selecting a certification body to ensure that your certificate is valid and will be accepted worldwide. 

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