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AS9100 Series Aircraft, Space and Defence Standards

18th June 2019

ISO 9001 has been the quality management Standard that has stood the test of time and is probably the best-known Standard that is recognised worldwide.


First issued as BS5750, it has undergone a number of iterations last issued in 2015 as ISO9001:2015. It is fair to say that not all industries believe that it fits the most demanding operations. The major American aircraft manufacturers developed an enhanced version of ISO 9001 and called it AS9100. It is at Rev D and uses the Annex SL format.

AS9100 v ISO 9001


Manufacturing an item as complicated and critical as an aircraft, space vehicle or defence 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, bills of material and test and inspection specifications is being used. This ‘configuration control’ is covered in far more depth than ISO9001, as is identification and traceability. Following an incident or accident documents are always quarantined immediately by an air accident or incident board of enquiry.

As you board your holiday aeroplane it is comforting to know that additional elements imposed by AS9100 have been met. Air travel is the safest of all modes of transport and even taking in to account the two recent air crashes of the Boeing 737 Max 800 passenger jets, it is still a less risky way to travel than driving to work, or crossing the road.

Of course, risks and opportunities are highlighted in the Standard. The AS9100 Standard also provides 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 requirements 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 first off, First Article Inspections and batch inspection of items and subsequent final inspection. The Standard also requires actions to be taken when it all goes wrong. Any faulty part, which is designated as 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 aircraft, space or defence products
  • AS 9110 – 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 IAQG accredited and competent assessors. The examinations required for this competency are complex and demanding.

The assessment of an organisation is of necessity, more in depth than ISO9001 and the reporting is far stricter, and lengthier. The assessor(s) checks every element of the Standard against the organisation’s documented information system; at the end of the assessment a decision is made to pass or require additional work to be carried out. 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 and be submitted through the OASIS system. Once all CAP items have been accepted a certificate can be issued.


Certificated organisations are required to maintain the strict requirements of the Standard and will undergo surveillance visits to ensure continued compliance. Any non-conformances require swift and continuing corrective action. Failure to correct a non-conformance issue or repeated non-conformance of the same issue can result in the certificate being suspended or in some cases withdrawn.

Inevitably organisations who achieve certification to AS9100 will then require their sub-contractors and external providers to achieve the Standard as well.

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

Quality Matters has extensive experience in the aerospace and defence sectors and can help in the achievement of AS9100, AS9110 or AS9120 Standards and also carry out internal audits to ensure compliance to the Standards is maintained at the assessment and surveillance phases.


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