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Volume 7 · Issue 5 · May 2002

Contents 

A Look at Recent Aerospace Industry Standards Developments
AS/EN/JIS Q 9100 Is a Launch Point for Aerospace Quality

By Dale Gordon

Nine months after alignment of the aerospace sector’s quality management system (QMS) requirements with ISO 9001:2000, the sector’s efforts to reduce complexity and variation in the supply chain are continuing at a rapid pace. At the most recent meeting of the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) in Kyoto, Japan, in March 2002, progress was achieved in several areas. However, many challenges also lay ahead for the IAQG.

On the standardization front, AS/EN/JIS Q 9100:2001, Quality management systems–Aerospace–Requirements, has been gaining wide acceptance since its publication in July 2001. It is published in the Americas by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) as AS9100 (now numbered as revision A to include the year 2000 version of ISO 9001), as EN9100 in the European Union (EU) by the European Association of Aerospace Industries (AECMA) and finally as JIS Q 9100 in Japan by the Society of Japanese Aerospace Companies (SJAC). The aerospace standard has been published in several languages, including French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and others in addition to its base English edition. A Chinese translation is also in development within the People’s Republic of China.

The IAQG also completed work at its meeting in Kyoto on two supplemental conformance standards linked to AS/EN/JIS Q 9100 that are designed for the registration of specialized organizations and are based on work already performed in Europe. The two standards are:

  • AS9110 (EN9110), Quality system requirements for aerospace maintenance & repair facilities (Note: the Japanese Industrial Standards Committee (JISC) is planning to develop a JIS9110 once AS9110 is completed that will likely be equivalent to the two other versions.)
  • AS9120 (EN9120), Quality system requirements for aerospace distributors. AS9120 will replace SAE’s AS7103 once published. At present, the JISC does not have an interest in developing an equivalent to AS/EN9120.

Both standards are in the final stages of reconciliation–which involves final agreement on minor changes in punctuation and other minor adjustments–among the three international sectors, and publication is expected by mid-2002 or the third quarter at the latest. Both are based on ISO 9001:2000 and should be easy to incorporate into the quality programs of the organizations for which they are intended. Many companies are expecting to use them immediately. In addition, the IAQG has completed the long-awaited revision to the industry-approved checklist to AS/EN9100 that is now available as AS9101A from SAE in the Americas and as EN9101 from AECMA in Europe.

A key goal of the IAQG in developing AS/EN/JIS Q 9100:2000 was to establish a process for verification of aerospace supplier conformance with internationally recognized and accepted QMS requirements. This would lead to the sharing of QMS audit results by customers by moving from second-party to third-party audits and thus would result in the elimination of redundant audits of aerospace suppliers. The development of the IAQG processes for the sharing of QMS audit results is also progressing rapidly.

In addition, the process for approval of registrars/certification bodies as being qualified to assess and register an aerospace supplier to AS/EN/JIS Q 9100:2001 and for the qualifying of the associated auditors has been implemented, with registration schemes fully operational in the Americas, Japan and the United Kingdom while other parts of the EU are coming on board.

Registration Activity and Items on IAQG’s Radar

There are presently more than 20 registrars approved to conduct AS9100A audits in the Americas alone. A key development related to this is the increasing number of major aerospace contractors requiring the use of AS9100A down through the supply chain in the Americas, which is driving the registration process into full swing, with the AS9110 and AS9120 specifications expected to do likewise in their specialized areas.

The IAQG has agreed on an overall approach to the requirements for registration as well as the requirements under which the Americas, Asia-Pacific region and EU will each run equivalent accreditation and registration programs. This will result in the ability for one certificate of registration to AS/EN/JIS Q 9100 to be globally acceptable to all IAQG member companies.

This may have the most significant impact in the United States. As of May 1, 2002, there were more than 75 certificates of registration to AS9100A in the United States, with more than 360 certificates of registration to AS9000:1997 (the predecessor to AS9100) due to be upgraded to AS9100A by December 15, 2003.

The US National Accreditation Program (NAP), which is jointly run by the Registrar Accreditation Board (RAB) and the American National Standards Institution (ANSI), was the only body to qualify accredited registrars to conduct AS9000 registrations, making the US registration scheme the only one to have previously offered AS9000 certificates. With the completion of AS9100:2001, other accreditation bodies have become involved in the qualification of accredited QMS registrars, including INMETRO of Brazil and the Standards Council of Canada (SCC).

Although the IAQG is not currently tracking registration activity, it is working on development of a database to track AS/EN/JIS Q 9100 registration data to increase the acceptance of registration certificates throughout the industry. It is hoped that the IAQG database will be operational and available by the end of 2002.

Having completed most of its objectives, the IAQG is now moving to tackle some tougher issues. The Kyoto meeting was attended by quality assurance representatives from more than 50 major aerospace companies from around the world, who began addressing such issues as global approval of special processes and subtier supplier quality control.

By virtue of the regulatory requirements that affect the aerospace sector, prime aerospace companies and their major suppliers are ultimately seen as responsible for product quality controls and quality management at all levels of the supply chain, making standardization of approvals for special processes as well as approvals of subtier suppliers important objectives, but very difficult to do and even more difficult on which to reach sector-wide consensus.

Other items on IAQG’s radar include software control, direct shipment requirements, global measures of supplier performance and electronic documents and signature authority. It is recognized that these issues have a significant impact on product quality and need to be solved from an industry perspective.

In addition, the IAQG is receiving attention and participation from the outer reaches of the aerospace sector, literally. In attendance at Kyoto were representatives from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Japanese Space Agency and other space entities. Their involvement is the result of the outer space community having taken to embracing the AS/EN/JIS Q 9100 requirements. IAQG members are also working with the US Department of Defense and NATO to help facilitate the use of common requirements for aerospace procurements.

The next meeting of the IAQG will be in Italy the fall of 2002, with further progress expected and several more improvements to managing and controlling the supply chain to be introduced, worked upon and implemented. Although the US Federal Aviation Administration and its equivalents around the world continue to insist on QMS inspections by their own agents, there is a growing acceptance even in the regulatory area of the value of implementing and maintaining QMSs based on AS/EN/JIS Q 9100, just as there is growing acceptance of registration to these requirements within the aerospace sector itself.

Dale Gordon is currently a Quality Director for Rolls-Royce North America, a world leader in gas turbine engines and power systems for commercial and military aviation and power generation markets. He has served for more than 25 years in the aerospace industry in a range of quality management positions within his company, including Supplier Control, Quality Engineering, Quality Systems Manager, Operations and Customer Facing Business. Throughout his career, Mr. Gordon has been working with quality systems and has taken a 5,000-person facility through the ISO 9001 registration process. He has co-authored a primer on quality systems and is the past Chairman of the Americas Aerospace Quality Group (AAQG), an SAE subcommittee that created the AS9000 standards. Mr. Gordon was the US lead delegate to Working Group 11 of TC 20, which created the aerospace QMS requirements standard that is now published by SAE as AS9100 in the Americas, by AECMA as EN9100 in Europe and by JISC as JIS Q 9100 in Asia.

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