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AS9100 Transition: What Aerospace Suppliers Need to Know

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If you had your AS9100 transition audit tomorrow, could you say right now whether you would pass? More importantly, do you know where the gaps are in your processes that could trigger non-conformities?

AS9100 is the leading standard for aerospace management systems, required by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers worldwide as a condition of doing business. The most recent version of the standard, AS9100 Revision D, was released in 2016, giving manufacturers until September 15, 2018 before AS9100 Revision C certificates expire.

To ensure a smooth transition, suppliers need to be aware of several key changes to the standard. Avoiding an interruption in business means proactively planning your transition strategy, focusing on training, gap analysis and internal audits.

What’s New in AS9100 Revision D

AS9100D fully incorporates ISO 9001, which was most recently revised in 2015. Some of the most significant updates to AS9100 reflect changes to ISO 9001:2015 aimed at improving accountability and reducing risk.

Key changes to the standards that aerospace suppliers should pay special attention to include:

  • Risk-based thinking: Both ISO 9001 and AS9100 now require organizations to factor risk into decision-making. ISO isn’t too specific about what qualifies as risk-based thinking, but ideally organizations would use closed-loop risk management processes to ensure continuous improvement.
  • Product safety: AS9100D contains two new subclauses, the first of which focuses on product safety. Suppliers will need to demonstrate what processes they have in place to protect product safety.
  • Counterfeit products: The standard’s second new subclause focuses on counterfeit parts prevention. Areas to focus on here include training, monitoring and verification programs, supplier management and traceability.
  • Awareness: Organizations must ensure people understand both how their actions impact quality, and what actions they need to take daily to meet expectations.
  • Human factors: Suppliers must now consider human factors like fatigue, complacency and stress when addressing non-conformities and taking corrective action.
  • Organizational context: Manufacturers will need to show how the quality management system (QMS) accounts for all relevant stakeholders and interested parties. Beyond customers and your business, interested parties may include regulators, suppliers and the local community.
  • Accountability and performance evaluation: A major shift occurring in many standards today is increasing emphasis on management accountability. Auditors will want to see documentation of management reviews, whether you’re meeting targets and what steps you’re taking if you’re not meeting them.

Learn how a leading aerospace supplier reduced defects by 53% with LPAs


Preparing for the AS9100 Transition

If you haven’t started the transition process yet, it’s time to get moving. While certificates to the old standard don’t officially expire until September 15, 2018, you’ll need to plan your transition audit at least a few months prior to leave enough time to correct any major non-conformities.

What are the steps you should focus on as you prepare?

  • Learning about the standards: If haven’t already done so, you’ll want to purchase copies of both AS9100:2016 and ISO 9001:2015 so you can read up on the differences.
  • Training internal auditors: It’s especially important for management representatives to receive AS9100 training, whether you do an internal auditing course or a 3-day course for lead auditors. Your strategy may depend on whether you conduct internal audits in-house or if you plan to bring in outside consultants.
  • Assessing gaps: Once you’re fully versed in the new standards, you’ll be in a position to identify which requirements aren’t currently addressed in your QMS.
  • Documenting compliance: Given the number of new requirements, most organizations will need to develop additional documentation to demonstrate compliance. This documentation will likely include items such as risk assessments and planning documents showing how you’ve addressed the updated requirements.
  • Verifying compliance: Internal audits are the final piece of the puzzle before scheduling your official transition audit. If you’re using an automated audit management solution, you might consider rotating AS9100-related questions into your internal audits to get people in the habit.

It’s Not Just Requirements

Instead of just checking off a list of requirements to pass an audit, you’ll get more from the process if you focus on doing it for the value it provides. Anyone can check a box, and in every industry it’s easy to find shockingly low performers who somehow managed to pass a certification audit.

An authentic commitment requires more planning and effort, but high-performing companies wouldn’t be doing it if there weren’t a payoff. Put in the hard work to learn about the standard, assess gaps and add effective controls, and you can expect to come out on the other side a much stronger organization.

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Eric Stoop

Eric Stoop

CEO of Ease, Inc.


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