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How can ISO 9001 help aerospace and defense companies?

When implementing a Quality Management System (QMS) in the aerospace industry, you may find conflicting information about which standard to choose as the requirements for your QMS: ISO 9001:2015 or AS9100 Rev D. AS9100 Rev D is written specifically for the aerospace industry, while ISO 9001:2015 is intended for use by any organization in any industry. So, which should you choose? If there is not a specific customer requirement for AS9100, then you may want to choose ISO 9001, which includes fewer processes to implement while still fulfilling customer needs.

What is the difference between AS9100 and ISO 9001?

ISO 9001:2015 provides the Quality Management System requirements for any organization, and it is released and maintained by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Meanwhile, AS9100 Rev D is issued by the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) and provides QMS requirements for aviation, space, and defense organizations.

The two standards are related by the fact that AS9100 Rev D includes all requirements of ISO 9001:2015, including the structure of the document, and adds in additional requirements for aviation, space, and defense. These additional aerospace requirements are highlighted within the document so that you can see what originally comes from ISO 9001, and what was added. This means that, in order to comply with the requirements of AS9100, you need to meet all requirements within ISO 9001.

So, if you do not have a need to implement the additional aerospace requirements that are including in AS9100, then you can still get the benefits of implementing a QMS that is based on globally recognized best practices using the requirements of ISO 9001. Additionally, if AS9100 becomes a requirement for your QMS in the future, it is easy to add in the additional processes needed to comply with that standard.

For more on the benefits of ISO 9001, see the article: Six Key Benefits of ISO 9001 Implementation.

What standards apply to the aerospace industry?

Depending on what type of organization you need a QMS for, there are also two other QMS requirements documents that you should consider. Along with AS9100 for all aerospace organizations, AS9110 and AS9120 also exist for specific types of organizations, and these standards are also based on the ISO 9001:2015 requirements.

AS9110 is written specifically to provide QMS requirements for aviation maintenance organizations. If your organization provides aviation repair and overhaul services, then the systems requirements for aviation provided by AS9110 includes specific requirements for your type of aerospace company. Likewise, AS9120 provides QMS requirements for aviation, space, and defense organizations that are distributors, rather than equipment manufacturers. In this standard, the requirements added to AS9100 for manufacturing are not present, though some specific requirements exist for the distributor activities instead.

To read more about the related standards AS9110 and AS9120, see these articles: How do AS9110 & AS9120 relate to AS9100 Rev D? and How does AS9120 differ from AS9100?

How to leverage ISO 9001 for aerospace and defense organizations

In aerospace and defense, your organization will have many requirements placed on you from both customers and legislative bodies that will need to be met, and it can be difficult to ensure that your response to all of these requirements is adequately coordinated. When AS9100 is not a customer requirement, then you may want to use ISO 9001 as the requirements to help build your QMS. This is especially true if many of the aerospace additions, which are often focused on product-based organizations, do not apply to your business. You will still have a world-class QMS without having to mark exclusions for the additional requirements that are not relevant.


How can ISO 9001 help aerospace and defense companies? - 9001Academy


By using ISO 9001 as the basis of your QMS, you will have a systematic set of processes that will work towards meeting your customer needs. By implementing processes methodically, you will have a more streamlined approach to the way you provide your products and services. You can learn more about the benefits of ISO 9001 in the article: Six Key Benefits of ISO 9001 Implementation.

Using the process approach in ISO 9001 will allow you to not only ensure that your processes are effective and efficient, providing a more effectual use of resources, but you will also find that improvements within processes will lead to more consistent product and services delivered to your customers. In addition, having a systematic approach to managing your processes will help you to pay closer attention to the handoffs between processes, when the outputs of one process become the inputs to the next process, because it is in these linkages that problems tend to start if the owner of one process does not understand the needs of the next process.

Use ISO 9001 to help build consistency

Better understanding of your processes leads to better process consistency. This in turn leads to not only a better use of resources, but also a more consistent product or service delivered to your customer. By using ISO 9001 as the foundation of your QMS processes, while tailoring it to your unique needs, you can gain the benefits of better credibility with your customers, leading to better customer satisfaction and retention. Meanwhile, you can make better decisions internally with an evidence-based approach and improve your overall processes along the way. By improving your organization, you will find that your company’s future is more stable and secure.

For more information about the benefits of ISO 9001, download this free white paper: How can ISO 9001 help your business grow?

Advisera Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar is a Certified Manager of Quality / Organizational Excellence through the American Society for Quality and has been a Quality Professional since 1994. Mark has experience in auditing, improving processes, and writing procedures for Quality, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems, and is certified as a Lead Auditor for ISO 9001, AS9100, and ISO 14001.