What is AS 9100?
Released in 1999, AS 9100 is a set of guidelines detailing steps to implement a Quality Management System (QMS) for the aerospace and defense industries.
These guidelines, also known as aerospace standards (AS), are developed by the International Aerospace Quality Group. (IAQG), allowing for the perspective of representatives from all over the world.
AS 9100 is often confused with the ISO 9001 standard, developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). AS 9100 merely expands upon the criteria for a QMS as defined in ISO 9001.
AS 9100 has gone through a series of four revisions since 1999. In addition to the original standard, AS 9100 has morphed into AS 9100 A (2001), AS 9100 B (2004), AS 9100 C (2009), and AS 9100 D (2016).
What is a Quality Management System?
A Quality Management System is a collection of a company’s policies, processes, and records that tries to paint a picture of how a company will best operate in providing products and services to its customers.
In addition, a QMS needs to fit a company’s needs. AS 9100 details a set of guidelines to make sure that all essentials are covered, ensuring maximum efficiency.
An effective QMS adheres to seven specific quality management principles: customer focus, leadership importance of top management, engagement of people, the process approach, improvement, evidence-based decision making, and relationship management.
You can find out more information about these principles here.
What is AS 9100D?
As of 2016, AS 9100D is the latest revision to AS 9100.
To create AS 9100D, IAQG took the ISO 9001:2015 requirements in their entirety and added on aerospace-specific requirements.
This standard applies to all organizations in the aerospace industries, including manufacturers of aircraft components, designers of aerospace parts, quality management organizations who work with aerospace manufactures, and partner companies of the aerospace industry.
Though not legally required, AS 9100D is an increasingly mandatory standard to which the aerospace industry must adhere. Compliance with AS 9100D allows organizations to gain access to original equipment manufacturers.
Refusing to conform puts aerospace manufacturers and distributors at a disadvantage, potentially leading to lower-quality products and, as a result, lower customer satisfaction.
If an organization complies with the AS 9100D guidelines, it is said to be “AS 9100 Certified”; if it doesn’t, it risks losing its certification, leading to lower credibility in the eyes of potential customers.
The benefits of obtaining AS 9100 Certification
The primary reason to obtain AS 9100 certification is to ensure consumer safety and satisfaction. Customers are concerned with more than just adherence to technical aerospace-specific standards: they want to feel like what they’re getting is safe, secure, and gets the job done.
AS 9100 certification essentially tells customers, “Because you mean so much to us, we’re going to double-check that we bring you the very best and eliminate any chance of disappointment.” With extra verification, customers will feel as if they made the right decision working with a manufacturer or distributor and, as a result, potentially continue to use that provider’s services in the future.
When a company becomes AS 9100 Certified, it goes onto the Online Aerospace Supplier Information System (OASIS), maintained by IAQG. The OASIS is a database available to any aerospace company to research potential suppliers and gather contact information for purchasing, essentially serving as a free promotional tool.
How AS 9100D is different from previous revisions
AS 9100D is different from the three previous revisions in five primary ways:
Dramatically altered standards: Over 95 percent of the standard has changed with this revision, making the audit process more expensive and extending it to 6 1/2 days.
Changes in important terminology: Many terms, no matter how complex, are becoming universal. For example, “Products” is now expanded to “Products and Services” with the intent of making a manufacturer or distributor sound as if it has more capabilities.
Major emphasis on accountability: It’s essential to ensure that all technology is safe, secure, and adaptable, especially when providing technology to people who put their lives at risk to protect our country. There is a renewed dedication to supplier oversight, delivery support, and supply chain management.
Increased attention to counterfeit parts: According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), 2 percent of the 26 million parts installed on airplanes every year are inauthentic, and manufacturers often are unable to detect them. To help prevent the use of counterfeit parts, AS 9100D makes the following suggestions:
- Train employees to recognize and avoid the use of counterfeit parts.
- Implement controls to verify that the company obtained parts and components from their original or authorized manufacturers.
- Authorize verification and testing methodologies to detect counterfeit parts.
A shift toward the collective: This standard also looks to foster a more collaborative and holistic work environment instead of isolating workers and discouraging collective efforts. This new focus on collaboration teaches workers to think in terms of “we,” not “I,” especially when acting in consideration of others.
In addition to changes in standards, there are also five key terms used throughout the entirety of the document that companies should pay attention to so that they can develop an acceptable QMS for the aerospace industry:
Counterfeit part: An inferior part that is sold under the pretense of being another part. “Counterfeit” includes modified parts, imitation parts, or faulty parts. Counterfeit parts have become more common in recent years, with sellers distributing parts that do not come from an approved producer, making parts out of the wrong material, or taking used parts and making them seem as if they are new or different. For example, if a system demands a 64 GB memory chip, but the chip is a 32 GB chip disguised as a 64 GB chip, that can lead to severe problems.
Critical items: This includes the functions, software, processes, parts, and characteristics of a company’s products and services that have a significant effect. These items demand specific actions to ensure that such products and services work. Some characteristics may include fracture-critical or mission-critical items, and some effects may consist of safety, performance, form, fit, function, producibility, or shelf life.
Key characteristics: Features that a company must identify and control, so they do not tamper with the form, fit, function, performance, service life, or producibility of that company’s products or services.
Product safety: The state in which a product can perform its intended purpose with little risk of harm to persons or property.
Special requirements: These are requirements that the customer or the company have identified as having a high chance of not being fulfilled, such as the timely delivery of a large project with a short timeline. The process for operational risk management must include these requirements. When identifying such requirements, there are many things to consider, such as the complexity of the processes, maturity of the products and services, and past performance.
How AS 9100 certification is obtained
AS 9100 certification occurs after a third-party independently verifies (audits) a QMS against the AS 9100 standard and confirms that the system’s processes match planned arrangements, the operations of a QMS to provide products and services to customers. The certification confirms that a company’s system is compliant, relieving customers of the duty of verifying that company’s QMS on their own.
Important to note: Each AS 9100 certification derives from the latest revision to the AS 9100 standard. For instance, an “AS 9100 Certified” organization falls in line with AS 9100 Revision D.
Before a third party can conduct an audit, an organization must thoroughly evaluate its own QMS after implementing the AS 9100 standard. Here’s how:
Conduct an internal audit: This allows a company to check that all of its processes meet the planned arrangements; if they don’t, it’s up to the company to correct any problems. An audit also enables a company to identify any weaknesses within its QMS.
Management reviews: This allows leaders to verify a company’s QMS is compliant and, as a result, correctly assign resources.
Corrective action: If there’s a problem, a company needs to find the root cause and eliminate it.
After a company conducts a review, a third party performs a documentation audit to make sure that all documents are compliant with the AS 9100 standard. A certification audit is then performed by interviewing employees and reviewing records to ensure that the QMS processes are in line with planned arrangements.
After the certification is complete, a certificate is issued to the organization. This certificate can serve as proof to customers that the company is compliant with the standard.
The timeline for this process varies from company to company, primarily based on how closely a company’s QMS processes match planned arrangements and how closely the system aligns with the latest revision to the AS 9100 guidelines.
How is AS 9100 related to ISO 9001?
Much of AS 9100 derives from ISO 9001 standard. Still, there is a primary difference between the two: AS 9100 applies specifically to aerospace and defense, whereas ISO 9001 applies to any industry worldwide and is an internationally recognized standard for Quality Management Systems.
The content of AS 9100 is the same as ISO 9001, but other requirements address the aerospace and defense industries’ needs.
The primary additions to AS 9100 are in the sections “Product Realization” and “Measurement, Analysis, and Improvement.” The additional sections are for Project Management, Risk Management, Configuration Management, and Control of Work Transfers.
There is also an increased emphasis on product safety, management of counterfeit parts, ethical behavior, and human factors; there are also many updates to the requirements for the Design and Development, Purchasing, Production, and Non-Conforming Product Processes.
Related Standards: AS 9102 and AS 9120
AS 9102 (Aerospace First Article Inspection Requirements):
AS 9102 is a support standard that assists with implementing the aerospace processes of AS 9100 and mirrors the ISO 9001:2015 standard.
In AS 9100D, there is a requirement for production process validation, also known as first article inspection (FAI). Individuals within an organization partake in a first production run to ensure that the production processes result in a product that meets design needs.
AS 9102 provides a best practice process for performing an FAI. Checklists and forms can be helpful tools to complete this inspection.
AS 9120 (Quality Management Systems – Requirements for Aviation, Space, and Defense Distributors):
AS 9120 provides guidelines for distributors, companies that do not manufacture products but buy them from others and distribute them. These types of companies have different needs than manufacturers.
This standard applies to distributors who obtain products from others and split them into smaller groups or perform inspection and testing before delivery.
Since this standard deals with distributors, processes such as operational risk, product safety, and first article inspections are unnecessary.
Below is a chart that maps out the differences between the three standards:
To gain maximum credibility in the eyes of consumers, all companies in the aerospace and defense industries must strive toward AS 9100 certification to signify their commitment to quality, safety, and efficiency.
At Trenton, our mission is to act as a customer-centric company focused on exceeding customers’ expectations of product quality and reliable services by meeting requirements and continually improving our management system.
Since October 30, 2021, Trenton Systems has stood proud as an AS 9100 Certified entity. Trenton now meets the highly stringent standards of the aerospace industry and has achieved a critical step in supporting the aviation, space, and defense market sectors.
AS 9100 provides manufacturing suppliers such as Trenton Systems with a comprehensive quality system for providing safe and reliable products. View the official certificate here.
“Trenton Systems’ employees fully embrace the mission of the company and are proud to serve the aviation, space, and defense markets with high quality and reliable products,” said Toni Hauck, director of quality and compliance for Trenton Systems.
“The process of successfully implementing AS 9100 further demonstrates that we are fully committed and dedicated to exceeding our customers’ compliance requirements on performance, quality, and reliability.”
Want to learn more? Get in touch with our team of experts to discover how Trenton can bring you the latest in cutting-edge, high-performance computing technology to tackle any challenge, no matter where the mission leads.