Quality Magazine

Aid Airline Safety

July 2, 2008
AS9100 provides a unique solution to airline safety.

Source: Daniel Duchon


In 2005, 146 people faced their mortality as JetBlue Flight 292 prepared for a risky landing at Los Angeles International Airport.

The problem?

The landing gear was not straight, so when the plane descended the front tires were on their side. Fortunately, the plane landed safely, with no fatalities. If the pilot had not done a good job landing the plane, this could have been a disaster resulting in the deaths of several people.

The dramatic video footage of this perilous landing reinforces the reality that safety must be the paramount concern of the airline industry, and safety translates into the need for product quality.

The best method for achieving this product quality is certification to AS9100, the international standard for the aerospace industry. AS9100 is based on the internationally accepted ISO 9001: 2000 Quality Management System (QMS), outlining the requirements for design and/or manufacture of aerospace products. The AS family also includes standards for maintenance organizations, AS9110, and stock-list distributors, AS9120.

Certification to the standard indicates a company can compete at the highest levels of the demanding aerospace industry. Other benefits of certification to AS9100 include that it:

• Focuses the organization on customer requirements.

• Helps the company zero in on key characteristics of aerospace products and services.

• Demonstrates global best practices are being utilized.

• Enhances participation in the global aerospace supply chain.

• Improves product and process quality.

• Reinforces continual quality improvements.

• Minimizes risk.

• Expedites gains in efficiency and reduction in waste.

• Offers a systematic management system approach to quality that certification bodies have indicated they support.

• Reduces, at least potentially, second-party audits and provides consistency of production of materials.



These unique AS standards help with quality assurance through several special features, such as extensive checklists, a scorecard and a systematic approach to traceability throughout the supply chain, to name a few.

Each of them has 50-page checklists that must be reviewed during every audit. They also have a scorecard-AS is the only standard in the world that has a scorecard that gets put on a Web database so customers, such as Boeing, can check the progress of the company. Another significant component of AS9100 is traceability, which cannot be overemphasized. Airlines must be able to trace everything from serial numbers to lot numbers, so a systematic approach to tracing these items is invaluable.

Airlines do not want to inventory stock. No customer is going to re-inspect material, so they want their suppliers to deliver perfect product. That way, they can shelf it and do not have to inventory it. Instead, it can go right to the line. Now, if that is the case, airlines have to be able to depend on their suppliers; they cannot afford to have bad suppliers who are not being monitored because defective stock could be put on a plane, as the customer does not re-inspect 100%.

Airlines rate their suppliers according to gold and silver. They will not check anything that the airline receives from a gold supplier. Instead, those products go directly on planes. If a supplier is designated as silver, then airlines will institute a sampling inspection process. Because safety goes along with product quality, it is essential that suppliers monitor their quality at a perfect level.

The AS9100 scorecard helps suppliers maintain a quality management system (QMS) that is continually improving and raising the bar. Registration to the standard helps ensure customers that the bar is raised on a continual basis.

Although AS9100 is based on the long-standing ISO 9001 QMS, it is best viewed as more than a QMS. AS9100 allows a company to run as efficiently as possible. In other words, it is a business system that is designed and built to make the company better.

In this industry, that means it makes them safer and more reliable.

The aerospace safety issues involve the end user-the product being supplied to them. The standard helps ensure that the end user is getting good (safe) product, with traceability taking any problem back to the source. So, if a problem arises, the company can trace it back to the supplier. Some paperwork has a retention requirement of 15 years or even a lifetime. AS9100 allows the customer to call on that paperwork to detect problems.

Although it is virtually impossible to eliminate all risk in flying airplanes, AS9100 certification could go a long way at minimizing them as much as possible.

Tech tips

Certification to the standard indicates a company can compete at the highest levels of the demanding aerospace industry. Other benefits of certification to AS9100 include that it:


- Focuses the organization on customer requirements.

- Demonstrates global best practices are being utilized.

- Improves product and process quality.

- Reinforces continual quality improvements.

- Minimizes risk.

- Expedites gains in efficiency and reduction in waste.

Bob Crosse is AS9100 lead auditor at BSI Management Systems (Reston, VA). For more information, call (800) 862-4977, e-mail inquiry.msamericas@bsigroup.com or visit www.bsiamerica.com.