Quality procedures and results are critical in any business, but perhaps none more so than in the aerospace and defense industries. If quality management processes are not adhered to rigorously when producing airplane components, for example, it's not hyperbole to say that lives could be at risk.
If your organization wishes to become a direct supplier to an aerospace manufacturer or wants to get involved in the creation of products used in aircraft, space and defense applications, you may need quality certifications to bid on work. The two quality standards most often associated with this industry are ISO 9001 and AS9100. But what's the difference between the two standards?
What is ISO 9001:2015?
Often considered the fundamental requirement for successfully implementing a quality management system, ISO 9001:2015 is the internationally recognized, foundational quality standard. According to iso.org, it is based on quality management principles like a strong customer focus, top management's motivations, a process approach and continual improvement. ISO 9001 compliance helps ensure that customers get consistent, good-quality products and services, which in turn brings many business benefits. A company can become ISO accredited after completing ISO 9001 training and passing an ISO 9001 audit.
What is AS9100?
AS9100 uses all the ISO 9001 standards as a foundation, bolting on additional regulatory requirements and notations pertaining specifically to aerospace quality needs. Instead of being produced by ISO, AS9100 is backed by the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG), which includes representatives from many major worldwide aerospace companies. AS9100 certification is a common requirement in the aerospace industry.
AS9100 vs. ISO 9001
"Versus'' is probably the wrong term since AS9100 is founded on the entire ISO 9001 standard. A better way of looking at it would be as an AS9100-ISO 9001 comparison.
As was previously mentioned, the ISO 9001 standard is utilized completely by the AS9100 standard — meaning that the clauses found in ISO 9001 are followed exactly in AS9100, making the base content identical in both standards. However, the similarities end when we start looking at the additional requirements that an AS9100 audit brings to the table to address the needs of stakeholders in the aerospace industry.
The primary focus of these additional expectations is found in the "Product Realization and Measurement, Analysis and Improvement" sections of the AS9100 requirements. Within each of these sections, you'll find different demands placed on key aspects critical to aerospace, space and defense. Examples include but are not limited to:
- Risk management
- Project management
- Configuration management
- Counterfeit part management
- Ethical behavior
- Additional safety requirements
- The human element
- Design and development
ISO 9001:2015 Transition to AS9100:2016
If your organization already has a QMS in place that is certified to ISO 9001, what does it take to add AS9100? Once again, the key difference between the two is simply that AS9100 has additional requirements specific to aerospace.
Before scheduling an AS9100 audit, a good place to start is with our AS9100:2016 Gap Analysis Worksheet. Smithers created this checklist to help our clients identify significant gaps in their transition to the AS9100:2016 standard. This AS9100 requirements checklist is not meant to be an all-inclusive tool, but it's a helpful resource guide and a great place to get started. Contact us today with questions, or to get started with AS9100 or ISO 9001 certification.