An Introduction to AS9100: The Quality Management Standard for Aviation, Space and Defense

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An Introduction to AS9100 The Quality Management Standard for Aviation, Space and DefenseQuality and safety are paramount in high-risk industries like aviation, aerospace, and defense. That’s why these industries have adopted the AS9100 quality management system standard. AS9100 provides a comprehensive framework for organizations to demonstrate their ability to consistently meet customer requirements and industry regulations.

In this article, we’ll provide an overview of AS9100 including its history, who needs certification, and the many benefits it offers. We’ll also summarize the certification process and requirements so you can evaluate if AS9100 is right for your organization.

About AS9100

AS9100 is the international quality management system standard developed for the aerospace and defense industries. It was created by the International Aerospace Quality Group alongside representatives from aviation, space, and defense companies and organizations across the globe.

The origins of AS9100 stem from the ISO 9001 quality standard. ISO 9001 provides general requirements for quality management systems for any industry. AS9100 builds upon this foundation to create more specific and stringent requirements for the unique needs of aviation, space, and defense.

The current version is AS9100 Rev D released in 2016. It emphasizes risk management, project management, and configuration management. Certification to AS9100 demonstrates an organization is committed to continuous improvement, safety, and delivering high-quality products and services.

Who Needs AS9100 Certification?

Obtaining AS9100 certification signals that an organization’s quality management system meets the highest standards for safety and reliability. It is required by many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and contracts in the supply chain.

The key organizations that pursue AS9100 certification include:

  • Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed Martin
  • Suppliers and subcontractors to OEMs
  • Maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) organizations
  • Design, production, and testing services
  • Materials and component suppliers

In short, any organization that designs, manufactures, tests or provides services related to the aviation, space, and defense industries will benefit from AS9100 certification. It will enable them to meet the contractual demands of their customers and expand business opportunities.

Benefits of Getting AS9100 Certified

There are significant advantages to implementing an AS9100 compliant quality management system and attaining formal certification, including:

  • Meeting contractual requirements – Many major aerospace companies require suppliers to be AS9100 certified. It meets quality demands in supplier contracts.
  • Expanding business opportunities – Certification can open doors to new business in regulated industries where AS9100 is a prerequisite.
  • Standardizing systems company-wide – Global organizations benefit from using AS9100 to align their quality systems at all sites to a consistent international standard.
  • Reducing quality costs – Defects, rework, and scrap are minimized through stringent process controls.
  • Forging customer trust and loyalty – Demonstrating commitment to quality and safety builds confidence in the organization.

By taking a systematic approach to quality management through AS9100, organizations can reap bottom-line rewards through improved safety, efficiency, costs, and customer satisfaction.

Overview of AS9100 Standard Requirements

AS9100 shares the ISO 9001 framework for quality management systems with additional specific requirements for technical, project, and risk management. Key sections include:

  • Quality Management System – Addresses documentation, management commitment, focus on customers, quality policy, and planning.
  • Management Responsibility – Sets responsibilities of management to implement the system with designated resources and personnel.
  • Resource Management – Covers provisions of the people, infrastructure, environment, and information needed.
  • Product Realization Processes – Details all steps in production such as design, purchasing, production, verification, validation, and control of changes.
  • Measurement, Analysis, and Improvement – Focuses on quality assurance through monitoring, control of non-conformances, analysis, and continual improvement.

AS9100 places heavy emphasis on supply chain management, product safety, and ongoing enhancement of processes through corrective and preventive actions.

Benefits of AS9100 Implementation

When effectively implemented, an AS9100 quality system allows organizations to:

  • Improve consistency and efficiency through documented procedures
  • Reduce errors, defects, risks and scrap
  • Prevent issues through rigorous process control
  • Exceed customer requirements and contractual obligations
  • Drive continuous quality improvement into all processes
  • Increase customer satisfaction and retention

Additional benefits are lowered costs through waste reduction, prevention of rework, and enhanced productivity. AS9100 provides the blueprint to build quality into products and processes upstream and gain a competitive advantage.

The AS9100 Certification Process

Attaining AS9100 certification involves these key steps:

  1. Gap analysis – Compare current quality system against AS9100 requirements to identify any gaps that need to be addressed.
  2. Implement system to meet AS9100 standards – Expand quality system, document procedures, train employees on new processes.
  3. Choose an accredited registrar – Ensure they are approved to issue AS9100 certification.
  4. Stage 1 audit – The registrar audits the quality documentation to ensure the system meets AS9100 requirements on paper.
  5. Stage 2 audit – The registrar visits site to verify the effective implementation and operation of the quality system.
  6. Certification – Once all requirements are met, the organization is certified to AS9100.
  7. Ongoing compliance – The system must be continually maintained and pass surveillance audits to retain certification. Systems are recertified every 3 years.

Conclusion

AS9100 certification requires dedication but brings sizable rewards. It provides aerospace, aviation, and defense companies with a proven framework to demonstrate their commitment to product safety and delivering the highest quality solutions.

The rigor of the AS9100 standard drives excellence into processes and builds trust across the entire supply chain. Implementing this quality system translates into significant bottom-line benefits through improved efficiency, lower costs, and increased customer loyalty.