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Aerospace Quality Management Systems

Aerospace Quality Management Systems
Eugene M. Barker – The Boeing Company
Using material initially developed by Dale Gordon – MPC Products
Since being established in December 1998 the International Aerospace Quality
Group (IAQG) has developed a comprehensive suite of standards and guides
and a supporting infrastructure that is resulting in improved quality while reducing
costs across the aviation, space and defense supply chain. This paper provides
an overview of this comprehensive system, the interaction and relationship
between the various documents and a description of the Industry Controlled
Other Party (ICOP) process that provides oversight.
Aerospace Supply Chain
The aerospace supply chain can be depicted as a pyramid with a few major
Vehicle, Airframe and Propulsion Manufacturers (Tier 1) at the top supported by
Integrators, Major Assemblers, Component Designers, Specialty Electronics and
Software Designers at the 2nd and 3rd Tiers, and Make-to-print Machine Shops
and Fabricators at Tier 4. Lower in the pyramid are Distributors and Detail
Hardware providers and Raw Material manufacturers. Across all six tiers are
organizations that provide Special Processes (an operation that cannot be
verified afterward by non-destructive examination.)
The International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) has developed a suite of
industry consensus standards that define the appropriate quality management
system requirements for the suppliers at all Tiers within the supply chain.
These standards comprise an Aerospace Quality System Model. They translate
company requirements into specific expectations and international requirements
using a hierarchy of standards supported by an internationally agreed
implementation process.
Aerospace Quality Standards Numbering System
The IAQG has established a consistent method of numbering the standards
using prefixes that represent the standards development organization (SDO)
issuing the standard and a common numeric suffix. Standards that are released
internationally are identified with a four digit suffix beginning with 91xx. These
standards are word-to-word equivalent, published by the national SDO in the
local language.
Standards published exclusively within the Americas have a suffix of 90xx and an
AS prefix. These standards may be adopted internationally and when this
happens the number is changed to a 91xx-series standard. All AS standards are
published by the SAE. European standards are published by the AeroSpace and
Defense (ASD) organization and carry an EN suffix. The Society of Japanese
Aerospace Companies publishes the standards in Japan using either a JIS Q or
a SJAC prefix. SDOs in Brazil, China, Korea, Russia and other nations publish
some of the IAQG standards, using the same numeric suffix identification or
other cross reference to the base standards.
Aerospace Quality System Standards
A partial listing of the IAQG standards includes the following documents:
 9100 – Quality Management System for Aerospace Manufacturers
 9102 – First Article Inspection
 9103 – Management of Key Characteristics
 9104 – Requirements for Registration of Aerospace Quality Management
 9100 – Quality Management System for Aerospace Repair Stations
 9120 – Quality Management System for “Pass-Through” Distributors
Additional guides are also published and individual IAQG sectors have published
their own standards.
Why an Aerospace Sector Standard?
The aerospace industry recognized in the mid-90s that minimal compliance with
ISO 9001 was inadequate to address the products used within the industry. Most
of the Tier 1 companies were adding additional requirements to ISO 9001 when
they communicated their expectations for a quality management system to their
suppliers. This resulted in a supplier receiving multiple expectations from their
The 9100 standard was developed to standardize these expectations on a global
level. This reduced the variation at suppliers, improving quality while reducing
costs throughout the value stream.
ISO 9001 is the Base
ISO 9001 was selected as the base for these industry expectations. This allowed
the industry to build upon a proven quality management system and the
supporting certification structure. The industry expectations added regulatory,
safety, reliability and maintainability requirements.
The industry strongly supports the year 2000 additions to ISO 9001. A process
based quality management system accommodates the complexity of the industry
products and products. Customer satisfaction has long been the objective of the
industry and establishing an expectation for continual improvement assures that
the industry continues to meet the ever increasing expectations of our customers.
When the ISO 9001 standard was revised in 2000 the requirement for achieving
continual improvement was added. This was a significant addition. However
the very nature of the standard mandates that it be suitable for everything from
anvils to airplanes and that it address the needs of the service industries such as
hotels and hospitals as well as products. The aerospace industry, recognizing
that the ISO 9001 standard, while providing an excellent base was not adequate
for the specific needs of the industry added a series of additional expectations.
These included the requirement for including variability reduction as a portion of
the organization’s continual improvement process. All processes benefit when
operated near nominal, allowing a more robust interaction with other processes
and reducing the probability that the process will drift outside of its boundary
Additional added requirements include:
 Interfaces with regulatory organizations
 Configuration management
 A number of additional expectations during the design and development
activity, including added verification and validation activities
 Enhanced control of changes during the production processes
 Additional control of production equipment, tools used to produce and
control the product and computer aided production and test equipment
 Specific controls for those supplying products, processes and services
 Attention to the verification of the initial products to assure that they
conform and that the processes producing them are significantly robust
to assure continuing compliance
 Additional records requirements including inspection documentation.
The above assure a standardized approach to the flow down of requirements to
suppliers. This allows them to develop a common quality management system
meeting the needs of all of their customers.
Clause 4 of the standard specifies that the requirements of the regulatory
authorities are included within the organization’s documented quality system.
This includes specific provisions that allow the authorities access to facilities and
a review of the records.
The standard requires that a “trace” be maintained between the standard, the
organizations Quality Manual and the implementing procedures. This is to
facilitate the review of the quality system by those charged with its verification.
A process used for Configuration Management must be documented. This should
include the use of control techniques across the entire product life cycle.
Clause 7 contains a significant amount of supplementation. This is to be
expected since this section discusses the requirements during the product
realization processes. Design and Development contains requirements to
conduct variability management whenever a Key Characteristic is identified by a
customer. The organization may also determine Keys and when they do these
also must be managed. The intent is to identify those processes that influence
the generation of the Key Characteristic and then by the application of variation
management methodology assure that the process operates as close to nominal
as practical.
Additional Design and Development activities include:
 The assurance that the design process provides all of the data
necessary to produce the product
 The use of formal Design Reviews at appropriate steps in the design
 Documentation of the Design verification and validation process
including the supporting reports and calculations
 The provision for the review of design changes by customers and
regulatory authorities when required
The management of the entire supply chain is an essential responsibility for
every organization. Organizations are increasingly depending upon suppliers for
providing a substantial amount of the work content. The organization is
responsible to assure that every supplier and their sub-tier suppliers are in
compliance with all product, process, contractual and regulatory requirements.
The process for managing suppliers must include:
 Maintenance of a list of approved suppliers, including the processor
approving and disapproving these sources
 Periodic review of the performance of the suppliers
 Control of special processes and their sources
 The process to be used for suppliers for notifying the organization of
nonconformances and the extent of permission for dispositioning
nonconforming product
 The right of access for customers and regulators
Specific requirements regarding the stringent flow down of requirements to subtier suppliers and the process used to validate that this occurs must be
When an organization plans for the production or service of the product a
significant opportunity exists to assure that the methods chosen afford a
repeatable and reliable process. This planning should take into account the
development of control plans and process controls, driven from a consideration
of the associated risks. The methods used for product and process verification
should be defined with specific attention paid to assuring that verification occurs
prior to the attribute being hidden by a subsequent operation. When tooling is
designed for use in verifying conformance consideration should be given to
providing the ability to take variable measurements, allowing the implementation
of variation management techniques, as appropriate.
During the production process adequate means must be provided to assure the
accountability of product. This should include evidence that all operations have
been satisfactorily completed. Consideration should be given to the elimination of
the generation of foreign objects and if this is not possible then adequate means
must be provided to remove these items prior to subsequent operations. The
processes should take into account the potential for environmental influences
and make adequate provisions for the protection of employees, those using the
product and the facilities where the product is produced. Frequently a number of
quality characteristics are related to the execution of skill-related operations. The
criteria associated with these operations should be specified. The extent of the
information contained within the work instructions should be consistent with the
knowledge level of those performing the work.
The 9100 standard contains two important concepts. The first is the performance
of verification activities associated with assuring that the initial production items
conform to the engineering requirements and intent. Typically referred to as First
Article Inspection (FAI), this process id always required when making an initial
production run or when a change is made to the process that is significant
enough to warrant a new review for conformity. Unless specified by contract
9102, FAI, is not mandatory, however it does provide excellent guidance for
those developing the process.
The management of Key Characteristics is a valuable tool and the methodology
is defined within the 9103 standard. This is a guidance document unless
specifically called out by the customer. Organizations are strongly encouraged to
consider the use of variation management when developing their suite of
continual improvement tools.
First Article Inspection
The 9102 standard provides the requirements for the performance of First Article
Inspection (FAI). These are performed to verify that the initial production meets
all of the design requirements. This process should verify that the manufacturing
planning is correct, contains the right sequence of activities and appropriate
verification activities. This process applies to all levels of parts from castings and
forgings, to machined items and full assemblies. The verification is performed by
the supplier and includes the collection of appropriate quantitative data. Where
special processes are required specific attention must be paid to assure
The FAI includes the verification of all design characteristics. This is typically
accomplished by marking up (or ballooning) the engineering drawing and then
recording the results of each of these measurements. When material and special
processes are involved the certification status of those performing the work
should be verified. A review of the manufacturing planning should include
verification that all processes are specified and properly sequenced. Information
regarding tooling and gaging should be recorded. And all tests and certifications
verified. Nonconformances should be documented and dispositioned, including a
decision on the need to conduct additional verifications from the next production
The methods used to perform the FAI and the extent is the responsibility of the
organization making the part unless specific contractual requirements exist. A
change of the design requirements or the manufacturing process may require a
partial or complete FAI to be performed.
Key Characteristics Management
The process for the management of Key Characteristics is specified in the 9103
standard. A Key Characteristic is defined as “the feature of a material or part
whose variation has a significant influence on the fit, performance, service life or
manufacturability” of the product. These features can include dimensional
features such as thickness, diameter, length, hole location, etc., chemical
concentrations or time, pressure, speed, voltage output, etc.
The intent is to drive improvement of the process or processes that influence the
generation of the Key Characteristic. Ideally the process should be operated to
cause the characteristic to be produced as close to nominal as possible with a
minimum of variation. The typical methodology includes understanding the
process, using appropriate tools to monitor the process, identification of the
factor(s) that influence variation and bringing these parameters into statistical
control, then reducing this variation.
Records Retention
During the design of the quality management system attention must be given to
the retention of records. The 9130 standard provides direction on this topic. In
addition, a guidance document (ARP9034) is being developed to address the
considerations associated with the long term retention and retrieval of digital data.
The products that we produce last for over 50 years and it’s essential that during
the product life the design data can be readily accessed.
Supply Chain – Risk Management
A number of IAQG and AAQG standards and guides address processes
associated with the procurement of parts and management of suppliers. With the
increased dependence upon purchased items and their increased complexity this
continues to be an area of opportunity for improvement. The use of Risk
Management techniques to establish the extent of supplier control is becoming
increasingly important. ARP9113 provides a methodology that accesses the
complexity of the product against the maturity of the supplier in establishing the
methodology for supplier management.
Software Quality
AS9006 has been developed to translate the requirements of the AS9100
standard when used in the development and procurement of deliverable software.
ARP9005 provides guidance for the control of software used in the design,
manufacture and verification of products.
Standard Contract Clauses
A recently released resource is ARP9009 that provides a series of standard
contract clauses that can be used by customers to communicate specific
expectations to their suppliers.
Special processes
Sources performing special processing such as heat treating, nondestructive
evaluation and chemical processing provide unique challenges. These activities
cannot be verified after the fact without destructive testing. It is essential that the
processes used to perform these operations be strictly controlled and evaluated.
To assist the industry an industry-controlled and managed process called
Nadcap has been developed administered by the Performance Review Institute
(PRI) of SAE International. This process uses highly skilled technical experts to
conduct detailed process audits using industry-developed checklists.
Sampling Inspection / Statistical technicques
Product verification, whether performed by the function performing the work or an
independent organization, requires adequate controls to insure the integrity of the
process. We have already discussed the conducting of First Article Inspections
and the management of key characteristics. ARP9008 provides a series of
sampling plans and their associated implementation requirements to facilitate the
appropriate use of statistical techniques during product acceptance and inprocess control.
Quality System Audits
An adequate audit program is required to provide management with visibility
regarding the effectiveness and efficiency of the quality management system.
ISO Technical Committee (TC) 176 has developed a set of audit requirements
and published them as ISO 19011. These should be reviewed when establishing
the organization’s internal audit process.
Management of Nonconforming Material
Unfortunately mistakes happen resulting in generating nonconforming material.
The quality management system must provide a robust process to assure the
identification, control and disposition of this material. An acceptable process,
including reporting, is defined in AS9131.
Industry-Controlled Other-party process
A number of approaches exist to demonstrate the compliance of he quality
management system to the appropriate standard. These are most typically
referred to as:
 1st party – an organization conducts their own evaluation and declares
 2nd party – a customer reviews their suppliers quality management system
and determines compliance
 3rd party – an independent organization, typically an accredited registrar,
audits the organizations quality management system and certifies compliance
The aerospace industry has developed a process for the oversight of the 3 rd
party process when performing audits to the 9100, 9110 and 9120 standards.
This is typically referred to as the Industry-Controlled Other-Party (ICOP) process.
Under this process the industry conducts independent reviews of those
accrediting the registrars and conduct witness audits of these registrars as they
perform quality management system audits. The result is a list of Registrars
authorized to perform aerospace QMS audits. The details regarding this
methodology are contained in the IAQG procedure 9104.
Other Quality Management Systems
In addition to the 9100 quality management system, the IAQG has developed two
other QMS’ one for use with Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul systems (9110)
and the other for Distributors (9120). The Distributor system is used by those
“pass through” stockiest and distributors that handle parts and supplies used in
aerospace products. The standard is built upon ISO 9001 and 9100, but only
applies necessary system requirements. It does include expectations for their
management of their suppliers. An ICOP registration process has just begun.
The 9110 standard for Repair Stations is developed for use by manufacturers
and airlines for flow down to those providing maintenance, repair and overhaul
services. They expect suppliers that have defined quality management systems
with reputable verification. This standard is developing interest from airlines and
the military. The standard is based upon ISO 9001 and the 9100 standard plus
includes the expectations of the civil aviation authorities (FAA/JAA 145). Like the
9100 and the 9120 standards, an ICOP process for registration is also available.
Global Recognition of Compliance
The aerospace industry has spent considerable time and expended substantial
energy in developing an International Aerospace Sector Certification Scheme.
The intent is for the IAQG to have an agreed and compatible system acceptable
to all, which allows sharing of audit results and approvals resulting in the
elimination of multiple assessments and process improvement. The goal is for
suppliers to receive one aerospace quality system approval that is acceptable to
all aerospace OEMs (and their suppliers) throughout the world. The key to this is
Over two years ago the aerospace industry identified eleven requirements of a
global QMS evaluation system.
 Single global standard
 Harmonized system of application
 Inter-National accreditation control
 Approved certified bodies and registrars
 Approved aerospace auditors
 Global acceptance by supplier base
 Data easily available to all participants
 Active industry participation
 One audit accepted by primes
 Oversight /control by IAQG and Sectors
 Inter-National Aviation Authority endorsement
All but the last item have been achieved. A tremendous accomplishment when
the global nature of our business is understood. The remaining action, an
endorsement by the regulators, must await demonstrated performance by the
industry of the process.
The ICOP process includes requirements for the Accreditation Boards and CRBs,
the auditors and the associated training. The system includes requirements for
the minimum audit time and reporting the results of the audits. The industry is
responsible to provide oversight for the process, to report problems with the
registrars and their auditors and to track the performance of the suppliers and
their associated registrars.
An On-line Aerospace Supplier Information System (OASIS) went operational in
July 2003. Since then over 2000 registration have been reported. All
assessments are entered by the registrars and consist of two sets of data. The
first is the public information contained on the Certificate of Registration. The
private information includes the detailed audit findings. Access to this private
data is controlled by the certified organization. This data is also summarized
periodically to allow visibility to the industry’s performance to the standard. The
OASIS database is an essential element of this robust system.
This paper has provided a comprehensive overview of the basic standards and
guides available to the aerospace supply chain. And the supporting ICOP
The industry leaders are listening. They have aggressively supported a common
system of standards and support structure and they are implementing this
system. The result is the elimination of redundant quality management system
assessments and a clearer communication of industry expectations.