AS9100 defines additional areas within an aerospace quality management system that must be addressed when implementing an ISO 9001:2000-based quality system. Typically, these requirements are included within robust aerospace quality systems. The industry experts who wrote the standard and the representatives who approved it all agree that these additions are essential to ensure product, process and service safety and quality.
Although the standard outlines industry "whats" for a quality management system, the "how tos" were deliberately left out and remain the system designers' responsibility. This reflects the AS9100 writing team's, and my, belief that how-to information stifles continuous improvement.
All quality systems must be designed to meet the specific needs of the users. And although AS9100 identifies areas to address within the aerospace industry, system designers are encouraged to first establish a robust quality system that's both effective and efficient. This system should be a holistic entity with practices spanning multiple functions and processes within the business.
For example, regulatory requirements are critical functions within the industry. The requirements within AS9100 are complementary to contractual and applicable law and regulations. Those implementing a quality system compliant with AS9100 must ensure that the additional requirements of their customers, regulatory agencies (such as the FAA and the JAA) and local, state and national laws are also referenced within the system's documentation.