Ivanov Quality Consulting - as

By: Ivanov Quality  09-12-2011
Keywords: quality management, quality management system


Developed by international aerospace industry leaders to satisfy DOD, NASA and FAA quality requirements.

AS9100 provides the standardization that is missing from the numerous standards that aerospace suppliers are currently required to meet and offers the opportunity for aerospace companies to implement a more effective, value-generating quality management system.

Representing the first international effort to formulate a quality management system standard for the aerospace industry, the two-year-old AS9100 is beginning to show its long-term value. The standard supplements ISO 9001 by addressing the additional expectations of the aerospace industry. Already, reports along this complicated manufacturing chain attest to—among other benefits—AS9100's contribution to more consistent verification methods and fewer verification audits.

Initially released in October 1999 by the Society of Automotive Engineers in the Americas and the European Association of Aerospace Industries in Europe, and shortly thereafter by standards organizations in Japan and Asia, AS9100 was a cooperative effort of the International Aerospace Quality Group. As such, it combines and harmonizes requirements outlined in the SAE's AS9000 and Europe's prEN9000-1 standards. Recently, AS9100 was revised to align with ISO 9001:2000.
Separating "whats" from "how tos".

AS9100 defines additional areas within an aerospace quality management system that must be addressed when implementing an ISO 9001:2000-based quality system. Typically, these requirements are included within robust aerospace quality systems. The industry experts who wrote the standard and the representatives who approved it all agree that these additions are essential to ensure product, process and service safety and quality.

Although the standard outlines industry "whats" for a quality management system, the "how tos" were deliberately left out and remain the system designers' responsibility. This reflects the AS9100 writing team's, and my, belief that how-to information stifles continuous improvement.

For example, regulatory requirements are critical functions within the industry. The requirements within AS9100 are complementary to contractual and applicable law and regulations. Those implementing a quality system compliant with AS9100 must ensure that the additional requirements of their customers, regulatory agencies (such as the FAA and the JAA) and local, state and national laws are also referenced within the system's documentation.

What’s different about AS 9100?
The AS9100 standard provides guidance for managing variation when a "key characteristic" is identified. Keys are features of a material, process or part in which the variation has a significant influence on product fit, performance, service life or manufacturability. AS9100 requires that an organization establish and document a configuration management process.

The AS9100 standard includes extensive supplementation in design-and-development functions. This isn't surprising given the complexity of aerospace products and customers' expectations for reliable performance during a protracted period of time. The European prEN9000-1 standard provided many of these additions. Both standards cover planning for design-and-development activities and ensuring interim control points during the design process. Design outputs are supplemented to provide identification of key characteristics, and the data essential for the product that will be identified, manufactured, inspected, used and maintained is detailed.
Managing suppliers throughout the aerospace supply chain remains a major challenge for the industry. The chain is very long, and within the supply base, there are sources that serve multiple industries. Because the industry is so dependent upon this supply chain, it isn't surprising that AS9100 includes a number of additional expectations for identifying and maintaining suppliers. Supplier approval is just one step in the process of managing suppliers.

But no element of supplier control is more important than understanding that a supplier is responsible for managing its suppliers and sub tier suppliers. This includes performing special processes that are frequently subcontracted to processing houses. The supplier must use customer-approved sources; however, ensuring that the processing is properly performed is the supplier's responsibility.
Product safety and quality control

Manufacturing a product as sophisticated as an airplane or space vehicle requires special attention during the production processes. It's important, for example, to ensure that the correct revision of the engineering documentation is being used and documented within the work instructions, and that work performance is recorded. This frequently requires a specific reference to the person performing the work. Controlling production processes is essential to demonstrate that operations have been correctly performed. This is especially important when conducting special processes that don't lend themselves to after-the-fact inspection techniques.
Aircraft are designed to perform for 50 years or more, and properly maintaining the aircraft is essential for continued safe operation. Thus, servicing requirements are an important part of the total quality system. These include maintenance and repair manuals as well as the actual servicing work. Again, record-keeping is important in documenting the work performed, the equipment used and the people doing the work.

Detailed first-article inspections are frequently performed to demonstrate product conformance to engineering requirements. Documenting the actual inspection and test results is an established method of demonstrating initial item acceptance. The standard provides general direction in this regard and suggests that AS/EN/JISQ9102 be consulted for further guidance. Another international aerospace standard, called AS9102 and developed by the IAQG, outlines a methodology for performing and documenting first-article inspections.

When things don't go as planned, AS9100 gives directions for controlling and disposing nonconforming material. This includes specific requirements for contacting the customer for authorization when using or repairing a product that doesn't conform to engineering requirements.

Who is getting registered to AS 9100?
More than 60 percent of IAQG members have implemented the AS9100 standard internally and are flowing it down to their suppliers. Most members will require suppliers to comply with the updated version of AS9100 (which is aligned to ISO 9001:2000 and supercedes older ISO 9000 standards) beginning in December 2003-04. This is consistent with the transition from the old ISO 9001 standard to the new version.

Organizations within the industry differ in their compliance to AS9100 verification requirements. Some use their own external auditors to verify suppliers' quality management systems. Others share the results of their quality system audits with suppliers in the industry. Most provide suppliers with copies of external audits. Most permit suppliers to share the audit results with other customers, too.

The Federal Aviation Administration has determined that AS9100 is "a comprehensive quality standard containing the basic quality control/assurance elements required by the current Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 14, Part 21." Both the U.S. Department of Defense and NASA have reviewed the standard and have published guidance material on using the standard for contractual requirements.

As AS9100 becomes established within the industry, the standard's benefits become apparent. Two obvious ones are a reduction in multiple expectations and a consistency in verification methodology. Both prime manufacturers and their suppliers are pleased with the results. Suppliers report a reduction in verification audits and an increased consistency in expectations. As a direct result, suppliers' customers are seeing a reduction in oversight costs and an improvement in supplier performance.

Keywords: quality management, quality management system

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