AS9100D: What Helicopter Operators Should Know

By NQA | November 6, 2017
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Helicopter pilot checking the flight manual before a take off. Helicopter is on the ground with bright sunlight.

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The aerospace industry as a whole is undergoing changes that stem from the latest update of AS9100. The changes are designed to raise the quality standards of the air travel, space exploration and defense sectors.

When it comes to aviation, perfection is a must. There simply is no leeway when traveling hundreds of feet above the ground. Therefore, the aerospace industry looks to AS9100 for a set of guidelines that help to ensure the fulfillment of air-safety standards.


AS9100 Revision D: The Basics

The 2015 update of ISO9001 prompted revision D to AS9100, the purpose being to keep the two standards in sync with one another. For helicopter operators and other branches of the aviation industry, the revision contains requirements that apply to the following areas:

  • Organization and leadership
  • Planning, support and operation
  • Performance evaluation and improvement

AS9100 Revision D implements a set of clauses that concern the working methodologies in the fields in question. To summarize the 10 clauses of the revision:

  • Clauses one to three concern terms and objectives
  • Clauses four to seven concern teamwork and agendas
  • Clause eight concerns business courses of action
  • Clause nine concerns progress reports
  • Clause 10 concerns improvement

Remedial steps have been expanded and enhanced for a more encompassing, cautionary analytical system. As a result of these new requirements, opportunities and risks are being assessed at all tiers of the corporate infrastructure.

The Benefits of AS9100D

The risk-based model of analysis has helped companies pinpoint issues that could lead a management system off its intended course. Other changes addressed in the new clauses cover the following areas:

  • The safety of products
  • The prevention of counterfeit parts — this consists of a process that is addressed three times across the standard
  • Awareness and ethics in regards to quality and safety, with emphasis on the requirements of individual contributors
  • The management of nonconformity issues, with regard to personal factors

Additionally, the update includes clarifications regarding the engineering of product performance.

These clauses aim to foster improvements in strategy for the various facets of business culture within the aerospace sector. By focusing on these objectives, the revision hopes to achieve:

  • Improved engagement with leadership.
  • Enhanced focus on objective setting.
  • A more structured management review process.

The ultimate intention is to mend the divide between business plans and quality management in the aviation, space and defense sectors. With systems of management more thoroughly amalgamated, a fuller range of sometimes overlooked concerns, such as the environment and health, can become more integrated into the culture of the industries in question.

Moreover, Revision D sets out to establish uniform processes for best practices and ongoing development. In doing so, the revision sets out to achieve the following objectives:

  • Make it possible for organizations to quickly pinpoint and handle risks
  • Highlight the vital nature of change management
  • Secure enhanced flexibility with records
  • Organize plans that involve various entities, including government agencies, regulatory committees and original equipment manufacturers

Overall, the revision seeks to establish a uniform system of management across the chains of supply that feed the industries in question.

The Transition to AS9100D

The clauses of AS9100D were conceived as early as 2013, though the revision wasn't ultimately rolled out until September 2016. Helicopter operators and all other concerned parties should be aware that — as of June 2017 — all audits are now being run according to AS9100D. This applies to all organizations, even those whose auditing cycles began before this change took effect.

As of Sept. 14, 2017 — the deadline for transition audits and re-certification under Revision D — AS9100C certificates are no longer valid. If you want to learn more about certification to AS9100D or are considering an audit for the standard, contact NQA or fill out a form for a free quote on its website.


NQA is recognized as the “Aerospace Registrar,” working with clients such as NASA and the Boeing Company.

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