My parents are great managers. I suppose they had to be to keep half a dozen kids in line. I’m sure it was challenging and stressful to deal with so many emerging personalities, not to mention the varied activities. Nevertheless, my mom and dad always seemed to find time to give each of us an audience to air our individual grievances or object to some rule. These conferences usually ended the same way: with them denying our request. However, they made sure that we knew the reason behind the denial or restriction. Enlightened with understanding, we not only complied but also adapted our future behavior to align with our parents’ logic.
At times, it may seem like governments and standards organizations are oblivious to your needs as they saddle you with yet another restriction or compliance requirement. Yet, by understanding their motivation and underlying intent, you can simplify the process of merging requirements into your workflow. If your work involves designing and developing products for the aerospace industry, then you should not only be aware of the AS9100 standard for quality management systems but understand its motivation and intent and how it complements or adds to the quality control (QC) required for your PCB design and manufacturing. The best way to understand the AS9100 standard, therefore, is to know why it exists.
Why does the AS9100 Standard exist?
Taking to the skies
The “aerial age” got underway when Wilbur and Orville Wright completed the first sustained, controlled, powered heavier-than-air manned flight in Kitty Hawk, NC in 1903. Several decades later, in 1957, the “space age” began with the launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1. A little over a decade later, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) fulfilled a promise made by President John Kennedy by sending a manned spacecraft to the moon and returning the astronauts safely to earth in 1969. These milestones led to the modern aerospace industry, which includes designers, developers and manufacturers of the critical systems required for aerospace systems.
The need for quality management
Throughout much of its history, the aerospace industry operated without any established guidelines and standards for quality management (QM) or QC of products. In fact, only after the creation of the American Aerospace Quality Group (AAQG) in 1995 was there a concerted effort at standardizing quality requirements for attempted aerospace products. AAQG’s goal was to create a reliable supplier base to reliably deliver better quality and lower cost products. The first published standard, ARD 9000, was largely based on ISO 9001, which provides recommendations for QM systems that can be applied to virtually all industries. After revising ARD 9000 to specifically address concerns of the aerospace industry, AS9000 was released in May 1997 by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International.
The need for standardization
AS9000 is the “de facto” initial quality system standard for the aerospace industry. This standard added over 30 new requirements to the previous document for quality system and planning, document and data control, procurement, process control and control of nonconforming material. This standard also stressed the importance of quality control throughout the supply chain and addressed foreign object damage control. AS9000 was broadly accepted by the aerospace community to serve as the international standard with a single identifiable number. 9100 was settled upon as the identifier and the standard has since been adopted by leading aerospace countries including the U.S., Japan, various European nations, and the list is growing.
What is the AS9100 Standard?
Bringing the aerospace industry together
AS9100 Quality Management Systems – Requirements for Aviation, Space and Defense Organizations was issued November 1, 1999. The AS9100 standard specifies requirements that must be instituted and documented by organizations developing and distributing aerospace products. AS9100 certification may be obtained by instituting the QM requirements presented in the publication. Organizations that fail to become certified run the risk of not being able to conduct business in the aerospace industry. The initial AS9100 standard, which included ASQ 9001, has undergone a number of revisions as listed below:
AS9100 Standard Revisions
- 8/1/2001 Revision AS9100A Quality Systems – Aerospace – Model for Quality Assurance in Design, Development, Production, Installation and Servicing
- 1/6/2004 Revision AS9100B Quality Management Systems – Aerospace
This revision emphasized the need for the quality management system to adhere to the statutory and regulatory requirements of the customer and demonstrate continual improvement toward this goal.
- 1/15/2009 Revision AS9100C Quality Management Systems – Requirements for Aviation, Space and Defense Organizations
This revision added a clarification for aerospace organizations to include aviation companies, space and defense organizations.
- 9/20/2016 Revision AS9100D Quality Management Systems – Requirements for Aviation, Space, and Defense Organizations
This revision dropped the need for continual improvement toward meeting specified requirements. Instead, compliance can be demonstrated by obtaining certification.
Compliance with the last revision to the AS9100 standard, AS9100D, must be completed by 9/15/2018, the same deadline for the ISO 9001:2015 compliance.
The level of QC implemented should be one of the primary factors that influence your choice of a CM. If you design and develop products for critical industries like aerospace, your CM should be able to assist you by producing PCBs that enable your OEM deliverables to meet QM requirements for the AS9100 standard.
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And to help you get started on the best path, we furnish information for your DFM and enable you to easily view and download DRC files. If you’re an Altium user, you can simply add these files to your PCB design software.
If you are ready to have your design manufactured, try our quote tool to upload your CAD and BOM files. If you want more information on the AS9100 standard or other requirements that may apply to your aerospace design, contact us.