The AS9100 standard was created specifically for the aviation, space and defense industries. It serves the purpose of achieving significant improvements in those industries in areas of safety, quality and customer service. Companies that are certified with this standard can be confident that they have an effective quality management system, and by extension, so can their customers.
According to Aerospace Manufacturing and Design, “Thermacore Inc., a provider of advanced thermal and material solutions, has received full recertification to both AS9100:2009 Rev. C and ISO 9001:2008 Quality Standards at its Lancaster, Pennsylvania, headquarters and manufacturing facility.” The company received recertification for their design, manufacture and distribution of thermal management components and systems.
The coveted AS9100 revision C aerospace standard, also known as the AS9100:2009 Revision C standard, has been out for quite some time. To date, numerous companies have undertaken the process and successfully transitioned to the new standard—having conformed to new deadlines, rules and requirements presented within. If your company is looking to get accredited and an audit is in sight, you have to prepare for the processing ahead. Here are a few pointers to help you avoid mishaps and facilitate a smoother audit process.
Prior to the Stage 1 audit, you’ll have to ensure that your registrar has access to relevant information. For starters, you need to determine which percentage of your total revenue is from the aviation, space or defense industry as well as the number of your employees who work for such industries. You also have to name your top 5 customers from said industries and identify any customer specific approval status (i.e. limited approval, probation, or suspension).
When you’re seeking to make your company perform better, quality management systems are your best bet. There are two popular systems available for those in the aerospace industry: the general purpose ISO9001 and the industry-specific AS9100. Though some companies can afford to implement both, it would be more cost-efficient to choose only one.
In the ‘70s and ‘80s, the technology was significantly less than what it is today, leading to a higher number of crashes. Nowadays, aircraft manufacture is governed by extremely stringent quality criteria like the AS9100 standards, which partly regulate the procurement and supply of aviation parts. These standards have enabled the aerospace and defense industries to increase operational efficiency by lowering production costs; leading to reduced rework, fewer rejections, and ultimately only top-quality products.
Furthermore, remember the long-standing tale that birds can completely jam plane engines if they get caught in the fans? That’s absolutely bogus. Modern aviation testing processes involve throwing foreign objects through the jet engines to ensure they maintain full functionality. Additionally, even if the engines were to stop at a cruising height (35,000 feet), a plane is designed to glide for 30 minutes before it lands.
People who’ve been told that flying is the safest mode of travel in the world may have reacted in two different ways: they took the assumption for granted, or howled in disbelief.
Despite how some may doubt the safety of air travel, however, there are solid facts to back up the claim. Aurelio Locsin of Demand Media cites data from the National Transportation Safety Board which indicates that flying accounts for nearly zero accidents per million flying miles; and that driving is technically more dangerous–5 million accidents to a mere 20 for aircraft, with 1.27 fatalities and 80 injuries per 1 million miles compared to flying’s zero deaths and almost zero injuries per 1 million miles.
A prime element that auditors look for is the existence of a working quality management system (QMS). The author reflected on his experiences of working with a certain company over three months to assemble their own QMS and hone it so that an Accredited AS Registrar will have little problems auditing it over one full cycle. What was key to the QMS’ completion, he adds, was an upper management that was willing to get it done for the company’s benefit.
In seeking AS9100 certification, reputable auditing firms like ISA will stress the key components in making sure the related QMS is up to par. They include accuracy of product design specs, risk management, and effective handling of the supply chain, especially when you have subcontractors working for you. You will even have to provide auditors with data on your clients, approval methods, and the employees’ job descriptions.
“The AS9100 label is the gold standard for the aerospace manufacturing industry, but like everything else in the world, it must evolve to better adapt to upcoming developments. Genevieve Diesling writes about one such looming change, in her article for Quality Magazine:
The AS9100 standard remains one of the most well-known and successful models of an industry-operated-and-driven standard in existence today. AS9100 was released in 1999 by the Society of Automotive Engineers and the European Association of Aerospace Industries and is regularly attuned to marketplace needs. Currently in its third incarnation—Revision C, which was released in 2009—aviation, space and defense companies all have a vested interest in the standard, and many require compliance with AS9100 as a requisite for doing business.”