Volume 8 · Issue 4 · April 2003
3 QMS Questions for Organizations in Aerospace and
The Impact of ISO 9000 in the Aerospace Sector
What meaning does "Quality" have in todays
world? A new millennium began 17 days after the latest ISO
9000 quality management system (QMS) requirements and performance
improvement standards were published, and within 16 months
the sector-specific QMS requirements for the telecommunications,
aerospace and automotive industries were aligned with ISO
9001:2000. And, at press time for this issue, the United States
and its allies appeared to be on their way to concluding a
military campaign that is likely to be noted for the precision
of the performance of the equipment and weapons used in that
campaign, resulting in reduced civilian and allied casualties.
So, THE OUTLOOK wanted to find out if the increasing
precision of aerospace and defense products is an impact of
the use of ISO 9000 and the aerospace standard aligned with
ISO 9001:2000, AS/EN/JIS Q 9100:2001, Quality Management
SystemsAerospaceRequirements, which is being
adopted widely in the US and global aerospace sectors (for
a recent report on AS9100, see "Aerospace Focuses on
Reduced Auditing, Continual Improvement", THE OUTLOOK,
To get a sense of the impact of ISO 9000 in the aerospace
sector, several quality professionals in the sector were contacted
and asked to respond to three questions. Gene Barker, Boeing
Technical Fellow, with Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Quality,
and Dale K. Gordon, Director-Quality Methods, at Rolls-Royce
North America, which manufacturers jet engines and other aerospace
products, provided responses on behalf of their companies.
The questions and their answers are provided below.
1. Does your organization use and/or require compliance with/registration
to ISO 9000 or ISO 9001-aligned standards (i.e., ISO 9001:2000,
ISO 9001/2:1994, AS9000/9100)? If so, roughly how long have
these requirements been in effect and what is the key reason
this is being done/required?
- The Boeing Company uses AS9100 internally and with our
- We recognize industry-managed other-party registrations
to AS9100 (i.e., registrations by third-party registrars
accredited by the ANSI-RAB National Accreditation Program
for AS9100, with oversight by the Americas Aerospace Quality
Group and International Aerospace Quality Group). Boeing
is very active in providing industry oversight of this process.
- Boeing requires compliance with AS9100 in support of the
International Aerospace Quality Groups objective of
minimizing variation across the supply chain.
- For the last five years, Boeing and our suppliers have
been in the process of transitioning to AS9100 from a number
of alternate QMS requirements standards. This process has
required us to work with our customers, the regulatory authorities
and our suppliers.
- Yes, Rolls-Royce has had in place an ISO 9001-compliant
and -registered quality system for about 8 years now. The
quality system has evolved with the applicable systems in
place for the industry. Rolls-Royce Indianapolis is currently
AS9100:2001-compliant and -registered today. The use of
AS9100 is seen as a best practice and Rolls-Royce has been
a leader in this activity. Rolls-Royce uses the current
AS9100 standards both internally and externally. This is
done to meet customer and regulatory needs in addition to
2. What has been the overall result of implementation and
use of QMSs that conform with an ISO 9000 or aligned standard
in your field?
- The primary benefit of using the industry consensus standardAS9100externally
has been the ability to speak with an industry voice to
our suppliers and to use industry-managed other-party audits
as a means of determining compliance.
- Internally, it has provided a single standard that meets
the needs of our many customers and regulatory agencies.
- AS9000/9100 have provided a clear understanding within
our organization of the importance of working to a Quality
System and of the need for the entire organization
to be compliant with the standards requirements, not
just the Quality Organization.
3. In light of the use of aerospace and defense products/services
in the war in Iraq and the phase-out of the Mil-Q standards,
has the use of ISO 9000 and other international QMS standards
made a difference in the ability of your organization and
its supply chain to produce these products/provide these services?
If so, what are the differences? Can you provide any general
examples of how use of an ISO 9000-conforming QMS in your
organization (or one you are aware of, such as a supplier)
has made a difference in the effectiveness and/or reliability
of your product and/or in the ability of your organization
or another organization to meet customer requirements and
to do so with increased efficiency, greater cost-effectiveness
and higher customer satisfaction?
- The industrys ability to speak to the supply chain
with a common voice has made for a more effective deployment
of QMS requirements. And since the AS9100 standard is globally
accepted, it has allowed us to deal with global suppliers
on an equal footing.
- As we have been able to use the results of industry-managed
other-party audits to assure the compliance of a suppliers
QMS, it has allowed Boeing resources to be deployed in conducting
product and process audits. Such audits provide additional
assurance that the suppliers understand our product requirements
and are adequately addressing them within their manufacturing
- No, there is no current effect on product as a result
of ISO 9001 compliance. However, the long-term effect has
been an increased use of metrics focused on customer satisfaction
and process control and increased performance improvement
THE OUTLOOK also spoke with Lawrence A. Wilson of
Lawrence A. Wilson and Associates, who has served on the task
groups that drafted ISO 9004:2000, worked on earlier ISO 9000
standards and previously worked in the aerospace and defense
THE OUTLOOK asked Wilson a number of questions about
ISO 9000, including whether its use in UK and US defense-related
industries had given the forces invading Iraq an advantage
in terms of equipment and weapons. Wilsons comments
on the impact of ISO 9000 on the precision and performance
of weapons reflected some of the points raised above:
I believe that our "advantage" lies more in
the weapon design and sophistication than it does the application
of ISO 9000the end product can never be better than
its design. Military products are tested from piece part
level right up to system level, and it is seldom that products
go to the customer with significant variation from design.
Additionally, with all the testing/verification, it is also
seldom that we field a product with a bad design. Once the
design and proof testing is firm, we then must build/verify/test
it to meet the designwith as little variation as possible.
Remember that the quality system concept came mostly
from the Military Standards, such as Mil-Q-9858, so the
Mil Spec Contractors did not have far to go to meet ISO
9001. And although ISO 9001 has certainly aided the military
and the contractors in developing and building the weapon
systems, to me it would be hard to specifically show a direct
However, I believe that everyone would accept that there
has been an indirect relationship. Although there have been
many improvements in the munitions, every one of the aircraft
being used by the United States in Iraq were designed well
before ISO 9000 was releasedeven the Stealth fighter
and bomber were designed prior to 1987 (obviously electronics,
guidance, etc., have been upgraded over time).
I believe that the contractors are working in accordance
with design and certainly the QMS in use can claim a share
of the delivered accomplishment. The manufacturing-related
efforts/actions that these contractors must undertake clearly
play a role, but they normally relate better to what variations
are directly dealt with In-House/On-Site. Delivered products benefit
indirectlyand possibly there are examples out there
where a direct benefit from ISO 9001 usage can be shown.