Quality management systems enable organizations to implement a structured approach to their activities. This allows for continuous improvement enhancing the organization’s efficiency. Such systems define the procedures that will cause the creation of quality products and services. The aim is to prevent errors while within the project, and not after a product has been delivered to the user. There are a variety of standards available to companies to comply with such as the ISO9001 for quality management which applies across industries, IATF16949 for automotive organizations and so on.

The aerospace industry is no different and has its own standard. This industry places strong emphasis on quality and reliability. Quite simply: There is no room for error where aerospace components and systems are concerned as this may have fatal consequences.

The Aerospace Standard

As the quality assurance model for the aerospace industry, the aerospace standards (AS) builds upon the ISO 9001 requirements to fulfil the demands of aerospace companies worldwide. The family of AS9100 / AS9110 / AS9120 standards is globally recognized. Successful implementation of the AS framework can help your organization to ensure product, process and service quality and safety, which in turn prepares your organization for entry to the international aerospace market. Certification to an aerospace standard has become the ticket-to-trade in this field, with AS certification being a pre-requisite requirement for many tenders for contracts.

As standards go through updates to bring them in line with industry changes and developments in technology, it is important to keep up to date with the latest revisions that will affect your organization. The AS91XX series is transitioning due to the revision of ISO 9001. AS91XX series additions have been relocated into appropriate ISO sections. The changes are significant and will have a major impact on all aviation, space and defense organizations.

Key changes include:

  • Introduction to high level
  • structure (HLS)
  • Updated terminology
  • Applying risk-based thinking
  • Concept of change: Addressing preventive action by risk identification and mitigation
  • Greater flexibility with documentation

All audits from June 15, 2017, on must be done to the new standard, including periodic audits and re-certification.

Using technology to help manage your quality management systems

For those worried about the complexities involved in managing audits and certification, there are tools available to you. The International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) has an Online Aerospace Supplier Information System (OASIS) where certified organizations can log in to see which of their sites are certified and which are not. They can also check the validity of their AS91XX certificates so they can plan for periodic audits and re-certification accordingly. The use of this online tool is instrumental in making it easier for organizations to manage their AS91XX certification.

Organizations are becoming increasingly aware that using such technological tools can help them to be more efficient, productive and connected.

Today’s organizations are facing a complex business environment. With increasing demands from stakeholders to operate sustainably, and with international standards being revised to encompass a more holistic view of the business context and related risks, organizations need to adapt and work smarter. The use of technological tools such as OASIS is a step in the right direction.