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Robert Parsons  |  08/06/2010

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AS9100:2009 Frequently Asked Questions

When, how, and why for the upcoming aerospace standard

Finally, the long and arduous process that appears to be a requisite phase in the development of an international quality management system standard appears to be nearing an end. Though the AS9100:2009 and AS9101:2009 (checklist) have been available for quite some time, the aerospace industry has anxiously been awaiting the release of AS9104, the final document to complete the trilogy of aerospace standards.

Even though this standard is the least well-known to most people in the aerospace industry, its importance cannot be overlooked. AS9104 is actually made up of three standards: AS9104-1, AS9104-2, and AS9104-3. Combined, they provide the structure that accreditation bodies such as ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB), and certification bodies such as National Quality Assurance (NQA), need to carry out effective certification audits. They also include requirements that affect almost every decision your certification body (CB) makes.

Collectively, AS9104-1, AS9104-2, and AS9104-3 include requirements for managing the aerospace certification scheme (AS9104-1), the requirements for the oversight of aerospace quality management system certification/registration programs (AS9104-2), and the requirements for aerospace auditor competency and training courses (AS9104-3). The AS9104-1 standard, though, is the cornerstone document and includes those requirements that have the most significant impact on companies registered to an aerospace standard.

It was hoped that AS9104 would be published and released concurrently with AS9100 and AS9101 (the checklist), but due to a number of unforeseen obstacles, that did not happen. The majority of these obstacles have been resolved, but two remain: the calculation of days needed to perform an aerospace audit, and the methodology for performing an audit at companies with multiple sites. It is hoped that the latest proposals put forth to address these two concerns will be acceptable to the international aerospace industry. If so, it is reasonable to assume a release date of the AS9104 standard in the spring 2011.

In the interim, the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) has published Supplemental Rule 001 to begin the transition from the current version of AS9104 to the newest version of AS9104.

However, given the level of confusion that still exists for AS9100-registered companies, there seems to be still more questions than answers. Consequently, the following questions were compiled from customers of NQA during the past few months regarding the status of the AS9100, AS9110, and AS9120 standards. NQA’s answers to the questions are provided as well. For the purposes of this article, wherever “AS9100:2009” is mentioned, the same rules, timelines, and requirements apply to AS9110:2009 and AS9120:2009.

Q:  If AS9100:2009 has been published, why can’t I get registered to it now?

A:  NQA can provide registration to this new standard right now. However, before any CB can audit to this new standard, a number of activities must be completed. First and foremost, NQA’s auditors must attend and pass an AS9100:2009 course. Although these courses have only recently been made available, a number of auditors have already completed the training, and the remaining auditors will complete the training before the end of August. Therefore, NQA fully expects its entire audit staff fully qualified to audit to AS9100:2009 by the fall 2010.

In addition, the CB itself must be approved by its accreditation body (AB) to audit to the AS9100:2009 standard and NQA recently attained that approval. Hence, NQA expects to be the first CB to have its entire audit staff qualified as well as AB-approved to audit to these new standards.

Q:  I have not heard much news about AS9110:2009 or AS9120:2009; what is the status of these new standards?

A: AS9110:2009 and AS9120:2009 standards have been published and are also available for purchase. As mentioned above, CB auditors also must be qualified to audit to these new standards, and NQA’s audit staff will be qualified by the end of August.

Q:  When do I have to get registered to AS9100? What if I decide not to get registered to this new version?

A:  Any aerospace audit between now and July 1, 2011, can either be to the AS9100B standard or AS9100:2009. All audits to the AS9100 standard after July 1, 2011 must be to the 2009 version. All companies wishing to remain registered to their current version of the standard must eventually undergo an upgrade audit by July 1, 2012; any company that has not successfully passed an audit to this new standard by that date will no longer be certified.

Q:  Other than the standard itself, are there any changes forthcoming that will affect us?

A:  Yes, though exactly what those changes are is still to be determined. The AS9104 standard is used to define the basic requirements for managing the aerospace quality management system certification scheme. As mentioned above, it includes rules for certification bodies (like NQA) and accreditation bodies (like ANAB). This document is being rewritten to include a number of significant changes, many of which will affect NQA’s customers.

Though it is still in rewrite, some of the changes that will probably be forthcoming are listed below.
• Concerning IAQG’s Online Aerospace Supplier Information System (OASIS), all customers will have to have an OASIS administrator assigned within the OASIS database
• A new requirement that a CB auditor’s access to classified material or export requirements is discussed before any audit activity
• A limit of two consecutive certification cycles (six years) for lead auditors at a particular customer
• New, more stringent requirements regarding what constitutes an audit day for third-party auditors
• New requirements for multiple site organizations
• A requirement that aerospace-certified organizations will be contractually required to provide copies of their audit report to their customers and potential customers
• Allowing IAQG original equipment manufacturers (OEM) that detect systemic nonconformities during their regular surveillance activities of their suppliers to request the CB  to perform additional surveillance activities at that supplier

Again, the above-mentioned changes are proposed; once AS9104-1 is published, NQA will inform its customers about any changes that affect them.

Q:  Does anybody at my company need any special training or courses before we get upgraded to AS9100:2009?

A:  No, there is not a requirement for an internal auditor or management representative to attend a class on these new standards. Only CB auditors must take and pass a course to be able to audit to AS9100:2009. Those employed by your organization must only be trained according to your requirements. That said, NQA always encourages its customers to seek additional training and education if they do not have a good understanding of the new standard and its effect on their quality system.

Q:  What should I do next to prepare for AS9100:2009?

A:  Obtain a copy of the applicable standard (AS9100, AS9110, or AS9120:2009) and determine the effect of changes on your quality system. The AS9100:2009, AS9110:2009, and AS9120:2009 standards can be purchased at:

AS9100: www.sae.org/technical/standards/AS9100C
AS9110: www.sae.org/technical/standards/AS9110A
AS9120: www.sae.org/technical/standards/AS9120A

Eventually, you must perform a full quality system audit and conform to the requirements of the applicable standard prior to your upgrade audit. For planning purposes, you can either maintain your current version of the aerospace standard or upgrade to the 2009 version between now and July 1, 2011. Remember, all audits after July 1, 2011, must be to the new version of the standard, and all companies must upgrade to the 2009 version of the standard by July 1, 2012.

Q:  Do I need to let my certification body know when I want to upgrade to this new standard?

A:  Yes, you must inform your certification body of your intention to upgrade to this new standard, keeping in mind the timelines described above. The reason for this is twofold: the CB client-support representative (CSR) must verify that the appropriate number of audit days have been scheduled to support an upgrade. In addition, the CSR must also verify that your CB auditor has successfully taken and passed the AS9100:2009 course.

Q:  When I upgrade to AS9100:2009, will my certificate be valid for three years?

A:  That depends. If you upgrade during a surveillance audit, the expiration date for your new certificate will be the same as it was for your old certificate. That’s because you only get a new certificate after a successful reassessment audit. If you upgrade during a reassessment audit, your new AS9100:2009 certificate will be valid for three years.

Q:  Will there be an additional cost to upgrade to AS9100:2009 and if so, how much?

A:  Yes, there will be an additional cost to upgrade to this new standard due to the increased audit time required. Your auditor will not only have to perform your surveillance or reassessment audit but also evaluate your quality system against the added requirements of the new standard. Contact your CSR to determine how many additional days (and how much it will cost) to upgrade.

Q:  Can I get a quotation for AS9100 Rev C now?

A:  For new clients, NQA can quote the number of days and costs associated with an audit to AS9100:2009. For existing clients wanting to upgrade to AS9100:2009, contact your CSR, who will provide you with the number of days and cost required.

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About The Author

Robert Parsons’s picture

Robert Parsons

Robert Parsons is the aerospace and defense business unit director at the management system registrar, National Quality Assurance (NQA).

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