Aerospace Industry Readies for the AS9100

The AS9000 industry standard has been upgraded. The good news is that the new standard, the AS9100, is not that radical of a departure from its predecessor and compliance can be reached with a minimum of additional difficulty.

The AS9000's replacement, the AS9100, was developed by a conjunction of parties including the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Aerospace Technical Committee, the American Aerospace Quality Group (AAQG) and the European Association of Aerospace Industries (AECMA), among others. This endeavor was accomplished with the support of the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG), which is comprised of members of the aerospace industry from the United States, Europe, Japan, Brazil and Mexico. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) published the standard in late 1999. The motive behind the AS9100 was to create a truly international standard, blanketing aerospace companies worldwide. As such, the standard complements ISO 9000 requirements by adding provisions that address both civil and military aerospace specifications. Industry stalwarts such as the Boeing Co., General Electric Aircraft Engines and Rolls Royce Corp have already accepted the AS9100.

The AS9100 retains the ISO 9001's aerospace sector-specific additions that are essential to maintaining the safety, reliability and quality of aerospace products. Also, much like its ISO forebear, it was created with the continuous improvement of supply chain processes in mind. The ultimate goal of the AS9100 is to ensure consistently high-quality aerospace products and maintain customer satisfaction while keeping manufacturing costs at a minimum. To accomplish this it standardizes, to the maximum extent possible, the quality system requirements of the aerospace industry. The hope is that by doing away with, or at least reducing, individual requirements for each and every aerospace customer, supplier or vendor, the standard will deliver cost savings to all parties. The Federal Aviation Association (FAA) was considered in setting the provisions of the new standard, particularly in regards to their concern that a greater emphasis be placed on supplier control.

Boeing, the world's largest aerospace manufacturer, aware of the fact that reshaping old operations to comply with a new standard is not an overnight process, has given 3,000 of its suppliers two years to reach compliance. Helping them to make the transition as smoothly as possible, Boeing is providing suppliers with generous leeway as they attempt to accommodate to the variations between versions of ISO 9001 and AS9100. Boeing has asked its suppliers to abandon outmoded legacy quality systems such as the D1-9000, MIL-Q-9858A, MIL-1-45298 and others, in favor of their Boeing Quality Management System which incorporates the new standard.

Boeing's suppliers are not the only ones who are put upon to comply with the AS9100. It is a standard to be met by suppliers across the aerospace industry. As the SAE puts it, "If your company produces parts and/or processes for the aerospace industry, AS9100 is an essential industry document." The IAQG has set November 2003 as the compliance date. Until then the AS9000 remains available for use. Boeing's Gary Baker, chair of the IAQG, explains, "We hope that by rapidly aligning the 9100 standard with ISO 9001:2000, while at the same time retaining the existing version of 9100 for concurrent use [until November, 2003] that we can minimize the impact of this revision upon the using organizations."

Sources: The New AS9100 Lifts Off
Derek Coppinger
Quality Online, Sept. 1, 2001

Society of Automotive Engineers Web Site

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