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Boeing calls AS 9100 into question

9th December 2019

The unsettling news from Boeing recently may call into question the effectiveness of the aerospace and defence standard AS9100. It could be that assessors and internal auditors did not spot the trends being exhibited or it could be simply that the sample audited did not throw up the deficiencies which came to light after the incidents.

AS9100 was designed 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.

Any failure in the operation of this Standard can have devastating consequences as in the two aircraft that crashed killing all the occupants.

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 as was the case of the 737 Max aircraft.

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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