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Five special aerospace terms in AS9100 Rev D

The aerospace industry has some unique requirements, and that is why AS9100 Rev D has taken the requirements of ISO 9001:2015 and added additional requirements for an aerospace Quality Management System (QMS). These requirements are added in bold and italics so that they are easily distinguishable as additions; however, the entire text of ISO 9001:2015 is also included. Along with these requirements, there are some aerospace-specific terms that are included in the AS9100 document, terms that are not as relevant for many other industry sectors. These terms are defined in section 3 of the standard, and are discussed below.

What are the aerospace terms in AS9100?

There are many terms specific to the aerospace industry, but there are five that are considered important enough to include them in the AS9100 Rev D requirements, as they show up throughout the document. These five terms are as follows:

  • Counterfeit part – This happens any time that one inferior part is knowingly sold as another part. The part may be an imitation part, a modified part, or the substitution of an unacceptable part for a legitimate part. In recent years, this has become more common with unscrupulous sellers distributing parts that are not made by an approved producer, making parts out of unacceptable materials, or even taking used parts and re-identifying them as new and different parts. If you are expecting your memory chip to be 64 Gig, and it is only 32 Gig inside with the part marking changed, this will be a big problem. That is why ensuring that counterfeit parts are not in the system is so important.
  • Critical items – Which of the functions, software, processes, parts, and characteristics of your products and services have a significant effect and require specific actions to adequately manage? These effects might include safety, performance, form, fit, function, producibility, or shelf life, and some examples might include fracture-critical items, mission-critical items, or key characteristics of your products and services. Basically, these are the things that you need to take specific actions to manage so that your products and services work.
  • Key characteristics – What are the attributes or features of your products and services that you must control the variation of, so that you do not put in jeopardy the form, fit, function, performance, service life, or producibility of the products and services? These are your key characteristics, and they must be identified so that they can be controlled.
  • Product safety – With the number of people flying on airplanes, it is no wonder that product safety is a concern for the aerospace industry. The term “product safety” comes up in relation to many items in the requirements, and there is an added requirement to plan, implement, and control the processes you need to assure product safety throughout the life cycle of the product. The definition of product safety is the state that a product can perform its intended purpose without causing unacceptable risk of harm to persons or property.
  • Special requirements – These are requirements that you or the customer have identified as having a high risk of not being met – for instance, on-time delivery of a project with a very short timeline. These requirements need to be included in the process for operational risk management, which is a requirement of the AS9100 Rev D standard. There are many things to consider when identifying these requirements, including complexity of the processes, maturity of the products and services, and past performance.

In addition, there is a note for these special terms that highlights the interrelation between special requirements, critical items, and key characteristics. These are interwoven into many different aspects of the QMS, including design and reviewing requirements of products and services, as well as process control in product and service provision.

Why is it important to understand these terms?

As you can see in the discussions above, many of these terms are included because they are extremely important to understand and control in the aerospace industry. In fact, these topics are so important that they have specific requirements around how an organization must monitor and control them in order to have an adequate QMS for the aerospace industry.

By understanding what these terms are, and how they apply to your Quality Management System, you can better understand the needs within the aerospace industry that can drive customer satisfaction. Remember, one of the reasons that companies implement a QMS is to increase customer satisfaction, so everything you do to work towards this goal can help provide a return on the investment you made.

Use this free download:  AS9100 Rev D Implementation Diagram to help yourself while implementing AS9100.

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.