Improving pilot competency is, of course, paramount. While airline authorities can’t do much in the way of weather, aircraft manufacturers could make sure that components and parts come from AS9120 certified vendors and distributors. AS9120 is a quality management system (QMS) certification given to suppliers of aerospace parts and assemblies, among other industries, that meet specific standards of quality.
QMS certification is done to guarantee reliability in product performance. The AS9120 standard assures clients that the parts and components have undergone rigorous testing and inspection before being sold. In the case of the aerospace industry, having AS9120 certification lessens the risk of future accidents resulting from defective equipment.
Dismissed as a minor accident at first, the ultralight plane crash last April 22 that occurred in the middle of Delta Highway was recently opened for further investigation by Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB). The pilot, Paul Deane-Freeman, reportedly suffered a fractured vertebra and is still recovering from the accident.
What is an ultra-light plane?
The Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association of Canada (LAMAC) defines a basic ultra-light aeroplane as an aircraft that has at least two seats, with a take-off weight of 544 kg and landing configuration of 45 mph (39 knots). An ultralight aircraft is for recreation purposes only, although it may also be used for pilot trainings in conformity with the Canadian Aviation Regulations. Although manufacturers of ultra-light planes are not required to meet any standards in their products, the LAMAC recommends that they apply materials and practices accepted in general aviation.
Aerospace commodity items are essential in the proper functioning and guaranteed safety of aircraft. The distributors of these products—raw materials, bearings, paints, fasteners, coatings and gaskets—may not have a role in the development of these components, but these players certainly have an effect on the final product. This is because there would be significant effects on the finished aircraft’s performance if there is improper handling of parts and materials, as well as the loss of traceability from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to the customer.
That is why the industry put strict regulations in place. For pass-through distributors of aerospace commodity items, they have the AS9120 QMS (quality management systems). The standard is based on the ISO 9001:2000, with the addition of almost 100 specific requirements for aerospace distributors.
Commercial flights in America are relatively safe for several years now since the last accident in 2009, but the same couldn’t be said with general aviation. A Washington Post report cited 440 fatalities in general aviation flights since 2012, in which pilots were held responsible for the accidents. However, a recent investigation found that pilots are, in fact, victims in most crashes.
Washington Post published an investigation by the online news source, USA Today, which reported that the actual fault in many of these accidents lies with manufacturers or distributors of aviation parts, and not human error. Manufacturers have reportedly been covering up their mistakes by saying that pilots failed to follow their advice and recommendations. With increasing aviation deaths every year, strict implementation of AS9120 certified parts is an appropriate response for effective prevention of fatal crashes due to faulty parts.
Fighter aircrafts like the F-15 are subjected to extreme G-forces in the air. Sharp turns can pull as much as 7 Gs, which both pilot and aircraft should be able to withstand. Aircraft parts like wing pins must be designed to handle these stresses with ease, or the risk of losing an aircraft to high G-forces than in actual combat would be greater.
It goes without saying that many of the Air Force’s aircrafts have established a long-standing reputation for ruggedness, with the F-15 as no exception. In fact, in 1983, an Israeli Air Force F-15D lost its right wing after a mid-air collision with an A-4N Skyhawk during a mock air battle. While the Skyhawk pilot ejected, the Eagle pilot—Zivi Nedivi—maintained control long enough to land safely.
The Pentagon is setting up “”maintenance bases”” in different parts of the world for its Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), the F-35 Lightning II, specifically in client countries which are also participating in its development. Among these countries are Japan, Australia, Italy, Turkey, and Israel; all of which showed interest in procuring the stealth multirole fighter in the future.
Dubbed as the regional Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul and Upgrade (MRO&U) by the Defense Department, these maintenance bases will be responsible for repair and replacement work on an array of hardware and software components. By delegating maintenance roles to the partner countries, the JSF program hopes to reduce the aircraft’s costs for the benefit of the client partners.
However, just saying you have implemented a quality management system isn’t enough. It still needs to be confirmed by an independent agency. An example of this would be a thorough AS9120 certification process from an accredited body like the International Standards Authority, Inc. (ISA). This usually involves observation and auditing by the certifier’s representatives over a period of months before you are fully certified.