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Stanley Cherkasky


AS9100:2009 Carries an Impressive Payload

Aerospace industry’s ship comes in.

Published: Sunday, June 7, 2009 - 22:00

At the beginning of this year, the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) released revision C to AS9100, the quality management system (QMS) standard for the aviation, space, and defense industries. Unlike the recent release of ISO 9001:2008 (which was more of an amended version), AS9100:2009 will have considerably more modifications. Its benefits, however, are most definitely worth the endeavors of implementation. The new requirements are intended to make significant improvements in quality and cost reductions throughout the value stream.

The standard’s payload includes several new requirements and clauses that focus on planning, project management, and risk management. Its trajectory will also traverse on-time delivery performance, formal monitoring of customer satisfaction trends, and formal plans to ensure continual improvement—all are mission critical. IAQG’s mission is to dramatically raise the on-time, on-quality, delivery (OTOQD) performance across all three industry sectors.


To do business in aerospace today, organizations must comply with AS9100. AS9100:2009 now includes the requirements of the QMS standard, ISO 9001:2008, plus additional requirements imposed by the aerospace, aviation, and defense industries. AS9100:2009 places additional emphasis on structured design and validation methodologies, configuration management, and identification and traceability.

IAQG is the lead organization responsible for revisions. The first draft of the AS9100 revision C was developed in July 2007, after considerable inputs from stakeholders. A coordination draft was sent to all stakeholders in November 2007. The IAQG 9100 rewrite team met in April 2008 to address all comments. The formal ballot draft was released in May, and the official release was on January 15, 2009.

The IAQG 9100 rewrite team included 18 members representing the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific IAQG sectors. Among the various stakeholders were civil aviation authorities, defense and space industry authorities, certification and registration bodies, trade associations, suppliers, and IAQG member companies.

AS9100 revision C objectives

IAQG has identified five primary revision objectives. These are:

  • Incorporate ISO 9001:2008 changes
  • Expand the scope to include aviation, space, and defense, as well as land- and sea-based systems for defense applications
  • Ensure alignment with IAQG strategy OTOQD
  • Adopt new requirements based on stakeholder needs
  • Improve existing requirements where stakeholders identified a need for clarification, including when a documented procedure is required


Transitioning to AS9100:2009

Even though it’s been several months since AS9100:2009’s release, transition details are still being finalized. Both revisions (B and C) will remain current for more than two years. IAQG has proposed a maximum 30-month implementation schedule from date of publication. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple; nothing ever is. That’s because AS9101 revision D, the QMS assessment standard, hasn’t yet been approved.

This assessment standard is currently being revised to make it more comprehensive, and to make it easier to facilitate a value-added, process-based audit. Changes, however, are expected to be significant. It isn’t until this sister standard is approved that the approximate six-month development period for sanctioned courseware to train third-party auditors on the revised standards can even begin.

The second ballot draft of AS9101 was sent out during the week of April 20, 2009. The comment period for the draft has been shortened from three months to two. The IAQG 9101 rewrite team will take about one month to reconcile all comments. If comments aren’t extensive, AS9101 revision D could be released as early as July or August 2009—and no later than the fourth quarter of this year. Three additional months, however, will be required if a third ballot draft is required.

Sanctioned aerospace auditor training material

If it takes about six-months to develop sanctioned training materials, it probably won’t be until early next year (at the earliest) before any certification body can audit to the AS9100:2009 standard. So, third-party auditors can’t do anything until AS9101 revision D is also launched, and the sanctioned training materials are released to the certification bodies. There will probably be one or two training providers assigned to this daunting task.

All aerospace auditors (AA), aerospace experience auditors (AEA), and aerospace industry experience auditors ( AIEA) will be required to complete at least three days of training. Most of the sanctioned training will focus on the changes associated with AS9101 revision D, compared with AS9100:2009. This is primarily why we must wait for the release of AS9101 revision D before sanctioned training materials can be developed in earnest. The IAQG will have final approval.

Once the assessment standard has been released, the primary focus of the first six months will be to develop auditor training materials. The challenge for the next 12 months will be to train the certification bodies and auditors. This suggests that the earliest opportunity for organizations to be registered to the new standard (early adopters) will be about six or seven months from publication of AS9101 revision D.

During the next 12 months, all organizations that haven’t opted for early adoption will need to upgrade to the AS9100:2009 at their next surveillance audit or recertification. It appears that the maximum allowed time to upgrade will be 30 months from publication of AS9101 revision D; after that, any certifications that are still to AS9100 revision B will no longer be valid. Detailed transitioning requirements will be available at or around the time AS9101 revision D is officially released.


Proposed IAQG AS9100C Implementation Schedule




Estimated Time Required


Cumulative Time


Release of AS9101D


Date TBD




Develop Auditor Training Materials


6 Months


6 Months


Train Certification Bodies and Auditors


12 Months


18 Months

All organizations to Upgrade to New Standard at Next Surveillance Audit or Re-Certification


12 Months


30 Months


Maximum Allowed Time to Upgrade




30 Months

Figure 1: Proposed IAQG AS9100C Implementation Schedule


Benefits of AS9100:2009 registration

Because AS9100:2009 provides the framework for a fundamental business model, the benefits of registering to the standard are many. In fact, they far outweigh the effects of implementation. Among these benefits are:

  • Increased opportunities and acceptance within the global aerospace, aviation, and defense supply chains
  • Improved service to customers, and enhanced customer/supplier relationships
  • Improved process effectiveness and product quality
  • Reduced cost of doing business resulting from standardization of compliance requirements
  • Accelerated growth of sales through unique differentiation (i.e., value proposition)
  • Reduced external (customer) audits and site visits
  • Inclusion in the Online Aerospace Supplier Information System (OASIS) database


Overview of the changes

Revision C changes to AS9100 include expansion of the scope to include “aviation, space and defense;” changes to the design specification; greater focus on planning and project management; and additional emphasis on risk management and mitigation. Keep in mind that ISO 9001:2008 changes have also been incorporated.

Additionally, two new terms were introduced: “special requirements,” and “critical items.” Special requirements are items identified by the customer, or determined by the organization that have high associated risks. Critical items (e.g., processes, characteristics, parts, and software) are those that have a significant effect on product realization and use of the product.

These changes present new challenges to companies working to the AS9100 standard. For example, emphasis on risk management serves to reduce liability and costs associated with “escapes,” as well as to obviate costs associated with remediation (which might also include litigation). Essentially, special requirements call for organizations to establish a process for managing risks to achieve customer, statutory, and regulatory requirements. Other implementation benefits include measuring, analyzing, and improving product quality and on-time delivery performance, and formally monitoring customer satisfaction data and trends. Also, improvement plans will be needed to ensure continual improvement. Understanding and embracing these changes will better position organizations for growth and profitability. It’s a matter of survival.

The IAQG web site should be your go-to resource for a more detailed description of the key changes to AS9100:2009. An excellent slide presentation there highlights the revisions, the relocation of requirements within the clauses, additions or deletions, rationale for the change, and implementation/audit considerations. The IAQG presentation covers six additions, eight revisions/relocations, and three deletions.

Registration and auditing trends

There are some interesting trends emerging that are related to AS9100. Several years ago, companies wanted few, if any, findings during their registration and surveillance audits. The “less is best” notion has morphed into “give us a value-added audit.” Now more than ever, companies are demanding value for their investment. Registrars are taking this demand quite seriously.

Although prime contractors and original equipment manufacturers have mandated that their suppliers become AS9100-registered, many don’t have a corporate unified position. The mandate strategy is sometimes fragmented on a site-by-site basis. Boeing is probably the closest to having a unified corporate position regarding AS9100. Many suppliers are being told that contracts won’t be renewed unless the supplier becomes certified. It would be wise for all suppliers to see this as a wake-up call to action. The grace period is over.

There’s also a trend to outsource internal auditing to consultants. Companies have found that outsourcing internal audits can be productive and cost effective. In-house, part-time internal auditors typically don’t perform audits frequently enough to be totally effective. And they don’t have the advantage of diverse field exposure conducting process-oriented audits. NASA is a good example of an organization that has embraced this trend.

Future auditing considerations

A trend gathering momentum is worth noting now. The release of AS9101 revision D will have, perhaps, the largest effect on the auditing community in decades. Auditors will not only audit for conformance, but will also be required to audit “process effectiveness.” This will be based on internal and external performance data, and these data must be validated by customers. This is why sanctioned training materials that satisfy national and international protocols must be developed around competency models.

The IAQG AS9101 rewrite team is also considering a new category of auditing. In addition to registration, surveillance, and recertification audits, there will likely be a new “special audit.” A prime contractor, for example, can request that a registrar conduct a special audit, at any time, for one of its underperforming suppliers. Registrars will need to work even closer with their clients. Also, expect to see a clause or two in the team’s proposals detailing this new “special audit” requirement.

The path forward

This is a good time to evaluate the overall effectiveness of your current QMS. If your organization isn’t measuring on-time delivery performance and customer satisfaction trends, do so, and don’t wait. It just makes good business sense.

If you want to brush up on project management and prepare to better address AS9100’s new subclause 7.1.1, an information resource is the QMS standard, ISO 10006. Its guidelines for quality management in projects can be used as a resource on how to apply project management using ISO 9001’s principles and structure.

You should visit the official IAQG web site (www.sae.org/iaqg) for additional information. If you come across any articles by L. L. “Buddy” Cressionnie, read these. He is the Americas’ lead for the IAQG 9100 rewrite team.

Visit the SAE International web site as well for related useful information or to obtain a copy of the standard (www.sae.org/technical/standards/AS9100C).

It can also be purchased from your national standards body—in the United States from ANSI (http://webstore.ansi.org/)—or from the American Society for Quality (www.asq.org).

Remember, this standard includes ISO 9001:2008 QMS requirements and specifies additional aerospace, aviation, and defense QMS requirements, shown in bold, italic text.

One last thought. AS9100:2009 provides the framework for a fundamental business model. It’s the foundation upon which to build a competitive, customer-centric enterprise. If you think it’s just another standard that can be taken lightly, think again. AS9100 makes a strong business case. That translates to improved business results and a sustainable competitive advantage. Remember: It’s a matter of survival.



About The Author

Stanley Cherkasky’s picture

Stanley Cherkasky


Project Management Resource

Here's a potential project management resource...applying PM to Quality: http://www.amazon.com/Total-Quality-Through-Project-Management/dp/007036...