The 737 MAX stands in the production line at Boeing's Renton, WA, facility. (Source: Boeing)
Getting the most out of your Quality Management System

SAE International recently updated its AS9100 standard—Quality Management Systems–Requirements for Aviation, Space, and Defense Organizations—with Revision D to incorporate the requirements of ISO 9001:2015, additional aviation, space, and defense stakeholder needs, and clarifications to 9100 series requests issued by IAQG users since the last revision.

According to Alan Daniels, who oversees regulatory and quality systems oversight at Boeing and is chair of the AS9100 Committee, a Quality Management System (QMS) serves the important role of being the requirements that build a foundation for the quality of your organization.

“The idea is that if you meet those minimum requirements the opportunity for improvements is there to build upon that and actually improve your business considerably,” Daniels said. “It also gives us a common set of requirements that we can audit to and share across the supply chain.”

Having a QMS in place leads to significant cost savings for both the manufacturer and part supplier.

“What drove a lot of this for aviation, space, and defense is you would get 10-20 different OEMs going to the same supplier because our supply base is very much shared,” Daniels said. “We would go to them with 10-20 different ways of meeting the exact same requirement, so standardizing would actually help all of our suppliers and helps us as far as potentially getting some cost savings because they don’t ask to produce 20 different pieces of paper every time they send a part to either Boeing, Lockheed Martin, or Airbus, whatever the case may be.”

The AS9100 standard is built upon the general industry ISO 9001 QMS criteria, with additional requirements for aviation, space, and defense added on top.

“When you get down to the third- and fourth-tier suppliers, they might not need to be AS9100 certified for a simple product and they might have ISO 9001 certification already for another industry,” Daniels said. “This way it’s consistent and we don’t cause them any extra work, we just actually flow down any additional requirements that they might be needed for aviation, space, and defense so that they can be dual certified.”

The AS9100 standard goes through a revision cycle every five years and was last updated in January 2009. Since the last update, counterfeit parts was one area identified as an emergent issue by the committee.

“It used to be counterfeit parts were really centered around software; anymore that’s not the case,” Daniels said. “You can get counterfeit parts coming from even raw material. You can get counterfeit parts associated with parts that have been used previously that people are trying to re-enter them into the supply chain through various methods that are illegal. It was seen as a threat and growing area of concern across the globe, especially with so many airplanes sitting in retirement.”

Product safety and awareness were other areas targeted for emphasis in Revision D.

“What we wanted to do was force it down to the lowest levels, to the user level. What is their awareness of how they contribute to product safety?” Daniels said. “The person putting an insulation blanket on an airplane might think that it’s not very important, but it can be hugely important when it’s not fireproofed quite right or not done correctly. You can get all kinds of breaches and hazards associated with something as simple as that.”

When implemented and managed well, the AS9100D standard can help manufacturers produce and continually improve safe and reliable products, meet or exceed customer and regulatory requirements, and improve integration with business operations and strategy.

“In Revision D, we have added a lot more measures that actually help organizations, without being too prescriptive, start that journey toward getting more improvement within their Quality Management System,” Daniels said.