To validate the quality management approach in the aviation sector, the Society of Automotive Engineers and the European Association of Aerospace Industries introduced AS9100 certification. Based on the basic requirements of the general quality standard, ISO 9001, it certifies the quality of the products delivered by the aviation industry. The aviation sector is vast and includes aircraft, spacecraft, and defense equipment. Thus, the requirements of the AS9100 standard emphasize the quality, statutory, regulatory, and safety aspects of aviation products that will retain the customers (namely, airplane companies, space research centers, and defense organizations).

However, implementing this international quality management standard and ensure a smooth transition for the management system is not easy for aerospace companies or defense organizations. There is a need for a lot of preparations and planning, including assistance from some professional quality assurance consultants who can suggest a proper action plan. This article will explain the steps an aviation organization needs to follow to implement the standard.

Understanding the Requirements

As mentioned earlier, AS9100 is based on ISO 9001 certification, and it incorporates the key requirements of the ISO 9001 along with certain supplementary requirements that are particular to aviation processes. Therefore, it specifies a vast number of requirements, which the organization will need to understand and comply with. Engaging trained consultants who are familiar with the ISO standards and other quality standards will help because they can interpret everything about the standard, including the definitions and several notes that the AS9100 standard specifies for the aviation sector.

Gap Analysis

The next big step for transitioning the quality management system or QMS of an aviation organization to a certified system is performing the gap assessment. The organization’s management team should take this responsibility and appoint quality inspection professionals for the task. They will compare the existing QMS of the aviation organization and practices that have been followed, and discover any missing aspects or weak points in the QMS, allowing the organization to address them in the improved QMS before certification.

Action Plan or Implementation

This is the most important phase in certification. The aviation organization needs a definite plan, enthusiastic members, active management, and good leadership to successfully implement the new and improved QMS according to the AS9100 requirements. Management should take the lead and encourage experienced members of the quality department to create an implementation plan that will work successfully. They use a plan that has targets or milestones and proper deadlines, which will assure that the new QMS gets implemented without taking too long. If needed, the individuals taking part in the implementation process must be trained with the AS9100 and ISO 9001 standards, and briefed beforehand about the role they will take in the process.

Implementation Review

Things are not over with after QMS implementation. Management needs to ensure that the implementation is effective and all standard requirements are covered by the management system. If any non-conformity is noticed, immediate measures need to be taken to rectify them.

Internal Audits

Without performing an internal audit, the aviation organization cannot be called for AS9100 certification. This is the final step in the certification process, and is known as the assurance step, where professional auditors will check the compliance of the QMS with the standard. Any non-conformances will be reported and addressed, ensure the organization is completely ready for certification.

Summing it Up

The aviation industry is a necessary sector of the economy, and must work to provide quality and safe manufactured products. While the general quality standard, ISO 9001, is internationally approved for all retail and consumer goods businesses, the need for an appropriate and specific standard for the aviation industry is important. Any organization that deals with aircraft, spacecraft, or defense manufacturing should never be behind in implementing this standard and transitioning their QMS. These simple steps can serve as a handy guide for them.

Author's Bio: 

Damon Anderson is an expert AS9100 certification consultant and has been assisting organizations and manufacturers in the aviation industry to achieve it. He also has deep knowledge of ISO 9001 certification, the process, and requirements, which he also discusses in his blogs.

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