In Transition

Aviation, space and defense industry moves to new standards

by L.L. "Buddy" Cressionnie

The 30-month transition period for the aviation, space and defense (AS&D) quality management system (QMS) standard began Jan. 1. In the Americas, the AS&D QMS documents, referred to in this column as AS91XX, were published as follows:

  • AS9100:2009, Rev C—Requirements for AS&D Organizations (published January 2009).
  • AS9110:2009, Rev A—Requirements for Aviation Maintenance Organizations (published June 2009).
  • AS9120:2009, Rev A—Requirements for AS&D Distributors (published June 2009).

The time from the AS&D standard release in 2009 to the start of the transition period allowed AS&D users to become familiar with the new and revised AS91XX requirements prior to the introduction of the auditing scheme changes released in March 2010.

The 91XX teams developed deployment support materials that include press releases, a presentation on changes, frequently asked questions, clarifications and references to articles, all of which can be found on the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) website at www.iaqg.org.

At the request of the IAQG 9100 team, The Supply Chain Management Handbook released this summer includes best practice documentation about risk management and special requirements or critical items. A link to the handbook can be found on the IAQG website or the Online Aerospace Supplier Information System (www.sae.org/news/iaqgoasis.htm).

Auditing scheme released

AS9101, which is mandatory for use during revised AS91XX third-party management audits, was completely rewritten by an international team of 13 members from six different countries, eight IAQG member companies and four certification bodies.

Their goals were to revise AS9101 to align it with the revisions of AS91XX and ISO 17021, to review the scope of the standard, to identify any additional stakeholder needs and to restructure the standard for a more process-based assessment approach to auditing an organization’s QMS.

The revised AS9101 replaces the previous versions of AS9101—Quality Management Systems Assessment, AS9111—Quality Management System Assessment for Maintenance Organizations and AS9121—Quality System Assessment Questionnaire and Checklists.

In addition to conformity with requirements, a major theme of the AS9101 rewrite is evaluating process effectiveness. ISO 9000:2005 defines effectiveness as the extent to which planned activities are realized and planned results are achieved.1 A process effectiveness assessment report will be used to document product realization processes, which include process details, process effectiveness methods and evaluations of process effectiveness.

The ultimate measure of QMS effectiveness is customer satisfaction. With that in mind, AS9101 includes an added focus on performance measurement and the use of customer feedback concerning the organization’s performance, which will be used as an input for process-based audits. The checklist nature of the legacy AS9101 has been removed from the rewritten AS9101, along with scoring and key requirements designations.

Certification bodies will be required to use the AS9101 objective evidence record (OER) or their own documentation, which which should meet the intent of the OER. To demonstrate clause coverage, a QMS process matrix form has been developed to correlate the processes to the AS91XX requirements.

Meeting requirements

What hasn’t changed in the rewritten AS9101 is determining QMS conformity to statutory and regulatory requirements, customer requirements and AS91XX standard requirements. Any nonconformities discovered during the audit must be documented in a provided nonconformity report.

Based on information collected during the audit, the auditor must draw conclusions on conformity and effectiveness of the organization’s QMS. These conclusions will be documented on AS91XX standard audit report forms that will be used for stage one and two initial certification, surveillance audits, recertification audits, special audits for customers, interested party requests, scope changes and certification transfers.

So, what does the AS9101 rewrite mean to organizations that want to be certified to the new AS91XX standards? Primarily, it means they must:

  • Demonstrate conformity to the standard.
  • Show process mapping (identified, sequence and interaction).
  • Explain process measures, such as who reviews the data, whether targets are defined and met, whether the measures are actionable and how the data are used.
  • Show actions taken when product conformity and on-time delivery performance targets are not met.

To summarize, the gains in the AS9101 rewrite include emphasizing the process approach within organizations, shifting resources from completing the questionnaires to determining and documenting conformity and process effectiveness, and providing useful information to stakeholders concerning process performance and history. The standard represents a significant advance in aerospace auditing.

Although auditing for effectiveness has always been the purpose of the standard and an expectation of customers, the reality is that most auditors focus on process conformity to procedural requirements and overlook process results. Customers have long complained about certified suppliers that continually have performance issues regarding on-time delivery or product quality. This standard addresses performance using a new approach.

Making the transition

The transition period (see Figure 1) started Jan. 1 with the development of sanctioned auditor training materials, a process that wrapped up in April. After the auditors take sanctioned auditor training—which began May 1—and certification bodies (registrars) are accredited to new requirements, organizations can be certified to the revised AS91XX QMS standards and rewritten AS9101.

Figure 1

All certification body auditors (aerospace auditors and aerospace-experienced auditors) will be required to attend and pass the IAQG-sanctioned training prior to completing certification audits for the 2009 versions of the AS91XX standards. The sanctioned training developed by Plexus includes online training modules of the AS91XX standards and four-day instructor-led training.

The goal of the IAQG-sanctioned training is to educate auditors on the AS91XX standards and AS9101 audit method, and to reduce auditor variation. All certification body auditors will be required to complete the training by July 1, 2011, if they want to continue performing AS&D audits. Some key dates in the 30-month transition schedule include:

  • July 1, 2011: Organizations will only be able to become initially certified to the revised AS91XX:2009 standards. They will no longer be able to become initially certified to the legacy AS91XX standards.
  • July 1, 2012: Organizations will need to complete their AS91XX transition via a surveillance or recertification audit.

Deliverable software

The AS9115 standard is newly released and clarifies the AS9100 standard’s requirements for deliverable software. AS9115 contains QMS requirements for organizations that design, develop or produce deliverable software for AS&D.

AS9115 harmonizes software quality system requirements from international software standards (such as AS9006, ISO 12207:2007 and ECSS-E-40) and other applicable documents using the structure and framework of AS9100. An organization can use the AS9115 standard when determining the applicability of AS9100 for software in its QMS. The AS9115 standard will typically be used as an AS9100 software supplement when contractually flowed down.

The expectation is that organizations will implement AS9115 and upgrade to the new AS91XX:2009 standards, which will improve QMS performance, enhance product realization planning and mitigate risks. The AS91XX:2009 standards will be more effectively assessed using an improved robust auditing scheme that drives improvements and a process mind-set, as detailed in AS9101.

With these tools in place, there will be increased confidence in the AS&D certification scheme, which will continue to feed the growth of approximately 2,000 valid sites every year (see Figure 2).

Figure 2


  1. International Organization for Standardization, ISO 9000:2005—Quality management systems—Fundamentals and vocabulary, 2005.

L.L. "Buddy" Cressionnie is the Americas requirement lead and the international and Americas lead for the IAQG 9100 team and is a voting member of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to ISO/TC 176. In these roles, he represents the Lockheed Martin Corp. in Fort Worth, TX, where he works in the aeronautics business area as a senior manager of quality and mission success processes. Cressionnie is an ASQ senior member with quality manager and quality auditor certifications. He has an MBA from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth and a bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Average Rating


Out of 0 Ratings
Rate this article

Add Comments

View comments
Comments FAQ

Featured advertisers