AS 9100 – Aerospace QMS


Quality and reliability are critical values for the aerospace industry. In such a complex industry, where mistakes and the failure of products and services can be fatal, the effective operation of a quality management system can help to reduce some of these concerns, and provide a framework for organizations to provide a product or service, which supports the values of quality and reliability.

The global aerospace industry has developed a number of standards to confront the issues of quality and reliability, and provide a framework for an effective quality management system. These standards have been embraced by the leading aerospace organizations, and their suppliers, and have gained recognition from a number of regulatory bodies around the globe. The foremost standard in the family is AS9100, which has been added to by the more narrowly focused AS9110 and AS9120 standards.

What are AS9100, 9110 and 9120?

What is AS9100?

AS9100 is the US version of a globally harmonized quality management system standard, based upon the internationally renowned ISO 9001 quality management system. It supplements ISO 9001, focusing upon the unique, complex, and highly regulated nature of the aerospace industry. Specifically, it emphasizes the critical aspects of key characteristics and the need to satisfy internal, governmental and regulatory requirements. The global nature of the standard allows commonality throughout the industry, allowing increased trade and co-operation.

The standard, which is supported by the leading global aerospace organizations, is based around organizational processes. As with ISO 9001, the core concept is the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, which focuses the organization on its key processes. The model also builds in the ideas of planning, and reviewing, and that organizations should continually improve (see below).

What are AS9110 & AS9120?

The AS9110 quality management systems standard sets out the specific requirements that are critical for the maintenance of aerospace vehicles including commercial, private, and military. Like AS9100, it includes the ISO 9001 requirements, and supplements these with aerospace specific requirements. AS9110 is for companies that maintain and repair aerospace vehicles for the commercial or military sectors, or those that manufacture aircraft parts under FAA PMA regulations.

AS9120, is a further aerospace QMS specific standard that supplements ISO 9001. The focus of this standard is stockist distributors

AS9110 and AS9120 are fairly new standards. Nucleus Consultants can offer registration to AS9110, AS9120, as well as AS9003

History of the AS Family of Standards

In 1999, AS9100 A replaced AS9000, the previous aerospace specific quality management system. The replacement of AS9000 came about because of the review and development of the ISO 9000 family of standards, where ISO 9001:2015 replaced ISO 9001:2008.

As with ISO 9001:2015, the major additions and alterations to AS9100 are based on the move from a procedural to a process approach.

AS9100 was developed by representatives from the Aerospace industry in Europe, Asia, USA and the Americas. Registration to AS9100 is encouraged for suppliers to organizations such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Rolls Royce, GEAE, and NASA.

AS9110 and AS9120 focus upon the specific quality requirements of the maintenance and stockist distributor segments of the aerospace industry.

Benefits of AS9100

Implementing the AS9100 quality management system derives a number of benefits:

– Focuses the organization upon the key requirements of the customer
– Focuses the organization upon the key characteristics of aerospace products and services
– Demonstrates the operation of globally accepted quality standards
– Increased opportunities and acceptance within the global aerospace supply-chain
– Improved product and process quality
– Reassignment of supplier resources to quality improvement
– Potential reduction in variation of quality
– Efficiency gains
– Compliance with a system supported by regulatory bodies
– Potential reduction in 2nd party system audits
– Excellent levels of traceability throughout the supply chain
– Common language to improve understanding of quality requirements

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Implementing AS 9100

Purchase the Standard

Before you can begin preparing for your application, you will require a copy of the standard. You should read this and make yourself familiar with it.

Review support literature and software

There are a wide range of quality publications and software tools designed to help you understand, implement and become registered to a quality management system.

Assemble a team and agree on your strategy

You should begin the entire implementation process by preparing your organizational strategy with top management. Responsibility for a QMS lies with Senior Management, therefore it is vital that Senior Management is involved from the beginning of the process.

Consider Training

Whether you are the Quality Manager seeking to implement a quality management system or a Senior Manager who would like to increase your general awareness of ISO 9001:2015, there are a range of workshops, seminars and training courses available.

Review Consultancy Options

The consultancy is the 3rd party like NUCLEUS, You can receive advice from independent consultants on how best to implement your quality management system. They will have the experience in implementing a QMS and can ensure you avoid costly mistakes.

Choose a register

The registrar is the 3rd party, like (Check with International Accreditation Forum for the accredited certification body) who come and assess the effectiveness of your quality management system, and issue a certificate if it meets the requirements of the standard. Choosing a registrar can be a complex issue as there are so many operating in the market. Factors to consider include industry experience, geographic coverage, price and service level offered. The key is to find the registrar who can best meet your requirements. A great place to start is by contacting us.

Develop a Quality manual

A Quality manual is a high level document that outlines your intention to operate in a quality manner. It outlines why you are in business, what your intentions are, how you are applying the standard and how your business operates.

Develop support documentation

This is typically a procedures manual that supports the Quality manual. Quite simply, it outlines what you do to complete a task. It describes who does what, in what order and to what standard.

Implement your Quality Management System

The key to implementation is communication and training. During the implementation phase everyone operates to the procedures and collects records that demonstrate you are doing what you say you are doing.

Consider a pre-assessment

A pre-assessment by your registrar normally takes place about 6 weeks into the implementation of the quality system. The purpose of the pre-assessment is to identify areas where you may not be operating to the standard. This allows you to correct any areas of concern you may have before the initial assessment.

Gain registration

You should arrange your initial assessment with your registrar. At this point the registrar will review your QMS and determine whether you should be recommended for registration.

Continual assessment

Once you have received registration and been awarded your certificate, you can begin to advertise your success and promote your business. To maintain your registration, all you need to do is continue to use your quality system. This will be periodically checked by your registrar to ensure that your Quality System continues to meet the requirements of the standard.

QMS Registration

Registration to ISO 9000 takes place when an accredited 3rd party visits an organization, assesses the management system and issues a certificate to show that the organization abides by to the principles set out in ISO 9001:2015.

Your Quality Management Systems certificate is a sign of acceptability which saves you having to prove your quality standards to discriminating customers. ISO 9000 speaks an international language.

Why do I need registration?

Gaining registration to ISO 9000 through various certification bodies will help your organization flourish. Whether you are looking to operate internationally or to expand locally to accommodate new business, ISO 9000 will help you demonstrate to customers that you have a commitment to quality.

The regular assessment process will ensure you continually use, monitor and improve your processes.

Registration can improve overall performance, remove uncertainty and widen market opportunities.

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