Aero-industry standards have been evolving since their introduction during World War II. Around the globe, aerospace manufacturers innovate parts, systems and other aeronautical elements as technology advances and the demand for faster, safer, more efficient aircraft increases. The standards included in ISO 9001 embody eight core quality management principles, which act as a common foundation for any quality control standards. As such, they were not designed specifically for the aerospace industry and did not meet the requirements of the American Department of Defense (DOD), NASA, or the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Subsequently, while American aerospace companies developed standards for use in U.S.-built equipment, it became apparent that, because the industry was truly global, global standards would be required. An ISO workgroup introduced the original AS 9100 in 1999 to establish a unified quality management system for use in the aerospace, aviation and defense industries. Today, any enterprise seeking to compete in the international aerospace, aviation or defense industries gains significant benefits by complying with the most current version of AS 9100.
The two standards are actually one built on top of the other. The AS 9100 incorporates all aspects of the ISO 9001, so compliance with ISO 9001 is a definitive step towards compliance with AS 9100. Consequently, following both the AS 9100 and the ISO 9001 standards ensures fundamental quality basics in aerospace as well as other industries:
- leadership focused on quality;
- enhanced customer focus;
- improved quality consistency with traceability;
- a system approach to oversight and management;
- continual improvement;
- involving people in the process;
- decisions made based on facts; and
- mutually satisfactory supplier relationships.
When adding to the ISO 9001 for aerospace purposes, the AS 9100 developers noted in bold and italics throughout the ISO 9001 text where the AS 9100 standards would extend the underlying rule. The AS 9100 was developed specifically for the aerospace industry, and the Aerospace division of SAE and the International Aerospace Quality Group maintain it. Its specifications are focused solely on those industrial capacities. There are four main requirements included in AS 9100:
Planning for product realization
The additional planning activities underscore an emphasis on risk assessment and management in the project and configuration management aspects of production and control of work transfers between facilities and suppliers. The risk mitigation expectations flow through the rest of the AS 9100 regulations.
Design and development
These sections include the steps for design verification and validation, as well as requirements for documentation and testing of both stages.
- Design verification includes crafting the piece on paper, taking into account all specifications, inputs, regulations and metrics. Comparisons to standards then reveal where the product conforms or fails to conform to industry expectations.
- The validation process involves the creation of the prototype, either as the first production unit or perhaps as an engineering model, to demonstrate the first run of a new but complex design.
Purchasing and purchased product
These regulations focus on supplier control, including information submitted to vendors, and controls on purchased products that might be released before verifications are complete.
Product monitoring and measurements
These rules govern quality measuring capacities, including criteria for rejection and for non-conforming processes. All organizations certified to AS 9100/9110/9120 are expected to transition fully to the AS 9100 Revision D by September 2018. The AS 9100 Rev D release coincides with the also revised ISO 9001:2015 standard.