Quality Management Systems – For Aviation, Space, and Defense Organizations

In October 1999 Aerospace Management System  was introduced by the Society of Automotive Engineers in the Americas and the European Association of Aerospace industries in Europe. The International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) developed the AS9100 document.

AS9100 Series Overview:

  • AS9100 encompasses ISO 9001 with additional requirements for quality & safety relevant to aerospace and defines the QMS standard for the industry. All major aerospace manufacturers (OEMS) and suppliers worldwide require or endorse certification to AS91000 as a condition of doing business with them. AS9100D is the newest updated version.
  • AS9110 is used specifically for Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul and is based on AS9100 which also adds requirements  that are significant  for the maintenance  of commercial, private and military aircraft.
  • AS9120 is used for  Stockist Distributors, and is also based off AS9100 and adds specific requirements for organizations that procure parts, materials and assemblies. Distributors that sell these products in the aerospace industry AS9120 addresses chain of custody, tractability, control and availability of records. This is applicable for Distributors that resell, distribute, and warehouse parts found in aircraft and other aerospace components.


The AS9100 framework also provides an excellent and practical model  from which to implement the additional requirements for an ISO 13485 (Medical)  or ISO/TS 16949 (Automotive) QMS.

 Aerospace‐specific requirements are added to most of the  sections of the ISO 9001 Standard, with an emphasis on:
  • Conformance to customer, regulatory and statutory  requirements (safety & airworthiness)
  • Flow down of requirements to suppliers and sub‐tier  suppliers
  • Risk management with consideration of special, critical and  key characteristics
  • Configuration Management
  • Production Process Verification (First Article Inspection)
  • Change control (documents, designs, processes, equipment,  tooling, etc.)

AS 9100 Introduction

Some industries have been a step ahead of the crowd since the introduction of the internet and more advanced technology. I.e. the rise of the computer and the era of information. This is what’s powered industries like the aviation and aerospace market. Once, with only a select handful of competitors, the aerospace marketplace is much more robust and competitive today than it might have been imagined in its early days. When NASA successfully landed us on the moon for the first time, it might have been thought that the aerospace field would forever be controlled by governmental bodies. With the development of AS9100 in 1999, however, the path toward a different future began to emerge.

Now, with Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk both entering the aerospace industry as private companies, and other eccentric entrepreneurs with wild volumes of wealth all joining the governmental bodies in the pursuit of exploring space; the AS9100 standards have recently become a great deal of interest.

AS 9100 Standards

The AS9100 standards are a series of standards related to the best practices and industry regulations of the aerospace industry. The most recent version of these standards is Rev D, which was published in 2016.

The AS9100 standards specifically apply to the quality management system employed by aerospace companies. The quality management system of an aerospace company is specifically important because of the high-level of risk that astronauts and engineers are putting themselves under day in and day out.

Though aerospace technology has come a long way since the days of imploding rocket-ships and crash landings, the field is still extremely dangerous – even when taking all of the necessary precautions. As such, implementing a quality management system that addresses both the quality of the processes, products, and services that your aerospace company is producing; however it also helps govern the safety protocols in place.

In turn, ensuring that safety protocols and industry regulations are all being met, the AS9100, provides employees with a higher sense of trust and ownership over their individual roles as it relates to their project as a whole. Empowering employees to have more control over their individual roles leads to an organization that runs more smoothly, and develops a culture of efficiency and continual improvement.

Continual improvement is one of the core principles that the ISO builds into all of their standards, and is an important part of any set of industry-best-practices. A culture of continual improvement is one in which each employee is well-trained and well-informed. So much so that they’re able to make evaluations on the current processes and workflows employed, and move practical suggestions up the chain of command appropriately.


In addition to seeing higher savings, lower costs, and a boosted operational efficiency throughout the entirety of the organization, the QMS and industry standards published by AS9100 also aim to improve your organization’s sustainability movement. As a field that relies so heavily on technology and fuel, the aerospace and aviation industries are well aware of the environmental challenges that we face.

As such, putting an emphasis on the sustainability practices and policies that these organizations employ, brings these companies into a stronger balance with the environment, and therefore society as a whole.


The AS9100 quality management standards apply specifically to the aviation and aerospace fields. As such, they address issues and practices that are related to those fields individually. Unlike other industry-wide standards, the AS9100 is able to address industry-issues and organizational improvements in a slightly more specific manner.

Considering the nature of the aviation and aerospace fields, the emergence of a standardized quality management system, and industry-wide regulations was inevitable. However, bringing your organization up to the standards set forth by AS9100 yields in a myriad of benefits that your organization experiences.

Employing the quality management system and best practices as published by AS9100, your organization will see an increased level of operational efficiency, and a boost in other significant business metrics as well. Efficiency is one of the most sought-after-traits in an organization’s management. Business leaders and decision makers all over the country are constantly looking for new ways to improve efficiency, save time, and add hours back into their weekly schedule.

The same is true in the aviation and aerospace field. As one of the most technological-dependent fields in the market, having an emphasis on efficiency and time management is integral to edging out the competition, especially as more competitors emerge. The value of a single minute, or a single hour, in the context of a business-week in the industry of aerospace and aviation is exponential, and as such – optimizing your quality management systems, processes, and procedures leads to incredible returns in the sense of time.


AS 9100 is a certification based on a standard published by the Society of Automotive Engineers in the Americas (SAE). Initially released in October 1999 by the Society of Automotive Engineers in the Americas and the European Association of Aerospace Industries in Europe, and shortly thereafter by standards organizations in Japan and Asia, AS 9100 was a cooperative effort of the International Aerospace Quality Group. As such, it combines and harmonizes requirements outlined in the SAE’s AS 9000’s and Europe’s prEN9000-1 standards.






SAE International is a global association of more than 128,000 engineers and related technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries. Our core competencies are life-long learning and voluntary consensus standards development. Much like ISO and other standard development bodies, they rely on technical committees. The Technical Committees are responsible for the preparation, development and maintenance of all relevant technical reports within their scope. Technical Committees consist of experts from government, industry, regulatory agencies and academia.


Revision D to AS 9100 was released in October 2016, with a September 15, 2018 transition deadline. 9100 is built upon ISO 9001:2015, which also has a September 15, 2018 deadline; with a few additional requirements. Simultaneous certification to ISO 9001 is NOT required for certification for AS 9100, but by certifying it you will have met all requirements for ISO 9001 certification so it is up to you to decide whether to proceed with auditing and certifying to both standards or not.


An excellent breakdown by Quality Digest summarizes how the two standards compare. There are many similarities between ISO 9001 and AS 9100, including leadership focused on quality, continual improvement, enhanced customer focus, and involving people in the process.

The differences between the standards, per Quality Digest, include:

  • Planning for Product Realization – emphasizing risk assessment and risk mitigation
  • Design & Development – verification and validation, as well as requirements for documentation and testing of these stages
  • Purchasing & Purchased Product – focusing on supplier control including vendors
  • Product Monitoring & Measurements – rules governing quality measuring capacities including criteria for rejection and non-conformity processes


There is a ton of information in and about AS9100. As the leading international standards for the aerospace and aviation field, the AS9100 standards are designed to improve your organization from the inside-out. 

Adhering to the AS9100 standards doesn’t only improve the operational efficiency internal to your organization, but also stems externally, and improves aspects of your company like sustainability and quality management. 

The process for becoming AS9100 certified is relatively quick, however. It can take anywhere from 4-7 months to earn certification, and can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,600. However, it is highly suggested that you make use of an ISO consultant in your AS9100 certification pursuit. There are many benefits to making use of an ISO consultant, as they have access to information and resources that will ease the process from start to finish. 

There is a wide variety of benefits to implementing the standards set forth by AS9100. For more information on AS9100, visit Glacier Consulting today and get in touch with an expert ISO consultant ready to manage all of your industry-standard needs.