What is AS9100?

AS9100 is a standard that sets guidelines for implementing a Quality Management System (QMS) for the aviation, space, and defense organizations. The standard is produced by the International Aerospace Quality Group, and it builds on the requirements for a QMS as defined in the ISO 9001 Quality Management System requirements.
The basics

What does AS9100 stand for?

What is AS9100? AS9100 Rev D is an aerospace standard (AS) that was released by the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) based on the internationally recognized standard ISO 9001. Both AS9100 and ISO 9001 are standards that include requirements for implementing a Quality Management System (QMS) in your organization; however, AS9100 is modified for aviation, space, and defense organizations.

AS9100 is based on the ISO 9001 requirements, so it is easiest to talk about this standard first. ISO 9001 is an internationally recognized standard for Quality Management Systems that is published by ISO (the International Organization for Standardization). The requirements are recognized around the world as an acceptable basis for implementing a QMS, and it was last updated in 2015, so it is referred to as ISO 9001:2015.

What is AS9100 Rev D?

The AS9100 standard is a set of guidelines for implementing a Quality Management System for use by aviation, space, and defense organizations (often referred to as the aerospace industry). The standard is produced by the International Aerospace Quality Group, which includes representatives from aerospace companies worldwide. The document is sometimes mistakenly referred to as “ISO 9100”; however, AS9100 is not maintained by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Instead, it builds on the requirements for a Quality Management System as defined in the ISO 9001 Quality Management System requirements.

While the ISO 9001 standard is generally accepted by any industry around the world, AS9100 is specifically modified for aerospace companies, including some regulatory requirements. What the IAQG has done is to take the ISO 9001:2015 requirements in their entirety, and then add in specific aerospace Quality Management System requirements without removing any existing requirements, thereby creating the AS9100 Revision D standard; these additions appear in bold and italics in the document.

For a better understanding of the requirements of AS9100 Rev D, see this AS9100 Rev D PDF free white paper: Clause-by-clause explanation of AS9100 Rev D.

When was the AS9100 standard released?

The AS9100 standard was first released in 1999, when it was based on the ISO 9001:1994 standard. Updates to the standard were:

  • AS9100 Rev A – Released 2001 with updates from ISO 9001:2000, but also allowing a legacy system based on ISO 9001:1994.
  • AS9100 Rev B – Released in 2004 to only include updates from ISO 9001:2000.
  • AS9100 Rev C – Released in 2009 with updates from ISO 9001:2008.

The current version of the document, released in 2016, is AS9100 Rev D, which is updated to incorporate the requirements of the ISO 9001 version issued in 2015.

Is AS9100 an international standard?

In short, yes. AS9100 is based on the ISO 9001 standard, which, as mentioned above, is an internationally recognized standard released by the International Organization for Standardization. In addition, the International Aerospace Quality Group that releases AS9100 is an internationally recognized group with representatives from companies worldwide.

Why is AS9100 important?

The aerospace community has specific requirements that need to be taken into account, and the QMS needs to incorporate these critical requirements. AS9100 is for aerospace suppliers, and your customers want to know that you are taking the steps necessary not only to meet these aerospace-specific requirements, but to improve the quality of your products and services and to enhance customer satisfaction, and implementing a QMS according to the requirements of AS9100 can do just that. By managing, controlling, and auditing your own processes, as well as having an outside certification body verifying that your QMS meets the requirements, your customers can know that everything is well in hand.

As the internationally recognized standard for aerospace Quality Management Systems, AS9100 is based on seven quality management principles that are recognized as being necessary to make a Quality Management System work. Your customers will be content to know that your QMS is also based on these principles. To find out more about these principles, which are also applicable to ISO 9001, see this article on The seven quality management principles behind ISO 9001 requirements.

One of the biggest benefits of AS9100 certification is that every certified company must be included on the Online Aerospace Supplier Information System (OASIS) maintained by the IAQG. This is a searchable database that is available to any company in the aerospace industry that is looking at supplier selection and surveillance, and includes not only information about each company, but also contact information for purchasing. Since OASIS is used by the industry to find suppliers, it is like a free marketing tool for your company, used throughout the aerospace industry.


AS9100 QMS

What is the difference between ISO 9001 and AS9100?

When considering AS9100 vs. ISO 9001, it is the additional aerospace requirements that you want to focus on. The AS9100 standard follows the clauses in the ISO 9001 standard exactly. The content of the standard is identical to that of ISO 9001 with no deletions; however, additional requirements have been added that relate to the needs of stakeholders in the aerospace industry. In order to make the additions easy to recognize, they are in bold and italics in the document.

The main additions in AS9100 occur in the primary sections on “Product Realization” and “Measurement, Analysis and Improvement.” The main sections added are for Project Management, Risk Management, Configuration Management, and Control of Work Transfers. Additional focus is placed on product safety, management of counterfeit parts, ethical behavior and human factors. Additionally, there are many updates to the requirements for the Design and Development, Purchasing, Production, and Non-conforming Product processes.

The main point to remember on this standard is that it is designed by the aerospace industry specifically for aerospace companies and has little application outside this industry.

For more on some of the aerospace specifics added to the standard, see the article: Five special aerospace terms in AS9100 Rev D.

What is an AS9100 Quality Management System?

In explaining AS9100, the term “Quality Management System” has been used. A Quality Management System is a collection of the company’s policies, processes, documented procedures, and records that define how the company will operate in order to provide products and services to customers. The QMS is much more than just quality assurance. You need to tailor the QMS to the needs of your company, and the AS9100 standard gives you a set of guidelines to help make sure that you don’t miss any important elements so that your aerospace QMS can be successful.

Certification

What is an AS9100 audit?

The AS9100 audit is a critical part of the Quality Management System processes. In general, an audit is collecting evidence of what is happening in the processes, and then comparing this to the planned arrangements for the process. The intent of the audit is to verify conformance when the actual activities match the planned activities; however, if processes are not happening as planned, this is identified. The audit process uses interviews, observation, and review of documentation to collect this audit evidence.

Part of the QMS is to include internal audits, where the organization hires people to conduct this audit of the processes and report back to the company how well the processes are performing against the plans. Many companies will also hire independent third-party certification auditors to compare their processes against the AS9100 standard and issue a certification that all the standard requirements are met. This is called AS9100 certification.

Both internal auditors and certification auditors require AS9100 training to learn and demonstrate the skills and knowledge required to audit the management system.

What is AS9100 certification?

AS9100 certification is the independent verification of the QMS against the AS9100 standard requirements by the third-party certification body mentioned above. Certification allows your customers to know that they do not need to audit your QMS on their own, because you have an independent party that has already audited your system against the AS9100 requirements and has certified that it is compliant.

Successful completion of the AS9100 certification audit will result in the certification body issuing a certificate that you can distribute as objective proof that you comply with the standard.

How do I get an AS9100 certification?

After implementing the requirements of AS9100, you will need to operate your Quality Management System before the certification audit can take place. The reason you need to operate your QMS is to allow you to do the following important activities before certification:

Internal audits – Your internal audit process allows you to check that all of your processes are meeting the planned arrangements and, if not, to find the root cause of any problems and correct them. This can help to find and correct any hidden weaknesses in your QMS.

Management reviews – As part of their commitment to the QMS, management needs to review the system to ensure it is effectively and efficiently implemented. This allows them to assign resources appropriately.

Corrective action – When a problem is found in your QMS during use, you need to find the root cause and correct it so that the problem will not recur.

The certification body process is divided into two stages:

Documentation Audit (Stage one) – Here, the auditors will review your QMS and ensure that your documentation meets the requirements of AS9100.

Certification Audit (Stage two) – In this step, the auditors will conduct interviews with employees and review records in order to determine that the evidence provided shows that your QMS processes are giving results that match the planned arrangements for each process.

For some help choosing the right certification body, see this checklist on: List of questions to ask an AS9100 Rev D certification body.

How long does it take to get AS9100 certified?

When calculating the AS9100 certification cost, you will need to understand how long you will need to implement the system before you can have the certification audit. The certification time for AS9100 will differ from company to company, because every company is different. For instance, if design and development is included in your QMS, this often takes longer to implement than a company without this process. Other factors that increase the time of implementation in an aerospace company is the complexity of the configuration management system, the counterfeit part management system, and the implementation of product safety requirements.

For some help identifying how long it might take to implement AS9100 in your organization, you can use a gap analysis tool that compares what you already have in place against the requirements. A simple tool can be found here: AS9100 Gap Analysis Tool.

Aerospace support standards

What is the AS9102 standard?

One of the support standards that is available to help with implementing the aerospace processes of AS9100 is AS9102. In clause 8.5.1.3 of AS9100 Rev D, there is a requirement for production process validation, often called first article inspection (FAI), where you take a part from the first production run to ensure that your production processes provide a product that meets all the design needs.

AS9102, Aerospace First Article Inspection Requirements, is a standard that can be used to satisfy the above requirement, as it provides a best practice process for performing this first article inspection. AS9102 also includes checklists and forms that can be used as part of this process. It is important to note that the use of AS9102 is not mandated by AS9100.

You can learn more about the link between AS9102 and AS9100 in the article: How Do AS9101, AS9102, & AS9103 Relate to AS9100 Rev D?

You can learn more about first article inspection in the article: How does First Article Inspection fit into AS9100 Rev D?

What is the AS9120 standard?

AS9120 is titled Quality Management Systems – Requirements for Aviation, Space and Defense Distributors. A company that is a distributor, that does not produce products but rather buys products from others and distributes them, has different needs than other organizations. The AS9120 standard is specifically written for these companies who may procure products and split batches into smaller quantities, or procure parts and then perform customer or regulatory controlled processes (such as inspection or testing) before delivery.

You can find out more about the link between AS9100 and AS9120 in the article: How do AS9110 & AS9120 relate to AS9100 Rev D?

What is the difference between AS9100 and AS 9120?

The AS9102 standard follows the same format as AS9100, mirroring the ISO 9001:2015 standard clauses, but there are some additions that are in AS9100 that are not included in AS9120, such as operational risk, product safety, and first article inspection. These processes are seen as not necessary for the distributor organization.

Likewise, there are some additional definitions and processes added for the distributor specifically. These include definitions for certificate of conformity and splitting of batches, and additional requirements for a process to prevent the release of suspected unapproved parts.

You can find out more information on the differences between AS9100 and AS9120 in the article: How does AS9120 differ from AS9100?

What is AS9100? Easy-to-understand explanation.

What is the difference between AS9100C and AS9100D?

The current version of the AS9100 standard is AS9100D, or AS9100 Rev D, which is updated to incorporate the requirements of the ISO 9001 version issued in 2015. The previous version of the document was AS9100C, or AS9100 Rev C, which incorporated the requirements of the ISO 9001 version issued in 2008. All of the changes from ISO 9001:2008 to ISO 9001:2015 were incorporated into the change to AS9100 Rev D.

Some of the main changes are the inclusion of context or the organization, interested parties, and risks and opportunities from the ISO 9001:2015 standard, along with the removal of preventive action. Also added are requirements for prevention of counterfeit parts, more focus on human factors, and assessment of product safety, which were added from the Rev C version of AS9100.

To learn about documents and their structure, download this free AS9100 PDF white paper: AS9100D List of mandatory documents.