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New revisions to AS 9110 present new problems

To stay competitive in aerospace and defense, you need to implement an agile, global quality management system. Preparing quality systems for periodic revisions is a constant challenge, especially when adjusting to changes to industry-specific standards. Often, new revisions reveal new problems, so the latest evolution of AS 9110:2016 (i.e., AS 9110C) will be no different. Here is how the latest revision to AS 9110 may present unforeseen difficulties for aerospace and defense manufacturers.New revisions to AS 9110 present new problems_IQS

What is AS 9110?

The aerospace and defense industry is arguably the most heavily regulated business worldwide. If you do not work in aerospace and defense, you may not understand how hard it is to manage myriad domestic regulations and international quality standards. Every stage of production, including maintenance, has its own quality standard. AS 9110 is the standard that specifically covers requirements for aviation maintenance organizations.

Like similar standards, AS 9110 uses ISO 9001’s framework as a baseline. In addition to ISO 9001’s terminology, AS 9110 encompasses “quality management system requirements and specifies additional civil and military aviation maintenance and continuing airworthiness industry requirements, definitions, and notes.” Here is a short explanation of why this approach has merit.

What are the benefits of AS 9110 certification?

Basing industry-specific standards on ISO 9001 affords manufacturers several benefits, consistency being the most useful. Since the earliest versions of ISO standards, their greatest criticism has been a lack of consistency. The context was almost nonexistent in early standards, but today, context is indispensable.

Strengthening competitiveness is clearly the main reason to gain certification to AS 9110. Improving productivity and profitability is another key benefit of quality standardization in aviation maintenance. Implementing AS 9110 can also lower production costs and reduce the occurrence of nonconforming products or services, which is the hallmark of ISO 9001.

How does AS 9110 relate to ISO 9001?

ISO 9001 forms the core requirements for AS 9110. Since the International Organization for Standardization recently updated ISO 9001, other quality standards have had to follow suit. If your company has successfully transitioned to ISO 9001, certification to AS 9110 will be much smoother. If your company is lagging behind, here are the most important changes to ISO 9001.

How has ISO 9001 changed?

In some respects, ISO 9001 is a departure from traditional quality management. For instance, the new ISO 9001 places great emphasis on “risk-based thinking,” which essentially means there is a new way to approach preventative actions. ISO 9001 now demands that you establish processes to identify and rank risks, mitigating those risks with preventative actions.

Furthermore, the new ISO 9001 emphasizes integration with business processes, change management, and the importance of traceable documentation in lieu of a quality manual. The new AS 9110 is the first revision of its kind to incorporate ISO 9001 requirements.

How will AS 9110 be difficult to implement?

If you work in aviation maintenance, pay close attention to AS 9110 section 8, which covers operations. The new AS 9110 specifically requires that you establish processes to identify and reduce counterfeit parts. An emphasis on airworthiness is a key component of section 8’s clauses. Clarification of terminology like “technical data” is also critical to achieving certification.

Think of section 8’s clauses as the meat on the bones of AS 9110. If you have already implemented an ISO 9001-compliant quality system, accounting for AS 9110 operations will be much easier. No other section deviates further from ISO 9001 than AS 9110 section 8.

As a quality professional, your task is to build a quality system that can incorporate any industry-specific standard. Adjusting to AS 9110 is a prime example of the difficulties you can expect.

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