AS9003B – Inspection and Test Quality Systems Requirements is Published as “Stabilized”


The AS9003 standard specifies Inspection and Test Quality Systems Requirements for Aviation, Space and Defense Organizations.  AS9003 has less stringent requirements compared to AS9100, and its intent is to define a quality inspections system, not a QMS (quality management system).

AS9003 is an America’s-only standard that is intended for companies that make non-complex products whose quality can be determined through inspections and test.  The main target for this standard is for make-to-print companies for non-complex products.  The definition of a Non-Complex Product is “A hardware or processed item whose conformance to quality characteristics can be fully evaluated by documentation, measurement and test of the end item, without uneconomical disassembly or destructive testing.”

The AS9003B standard has just been published, which only changes the RATIONALE section and STABILIZED NOTICE on page 1.  The balance of the standard is identical to AS9003A, and is going to remain untouched or “stabilized” for those US space and defense customers that wish to continue to use AS9003 for qualification of some suppliers.

Jim Lee, President of simpleQuE, served as vice-chair of the writing committee to update AS9003A to use ISO 9001:2015 as the baseline and become a QMS standard.  The writing committee consisted of personnel from NASA, DCMA/DoD, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, and PRI, all interested parties of AS9003 from the space and defense industry.

After a lot of work on upgrading AS9003A to AS9003B, it was determined that the team was assigned conflicting objectives to make AS9003 a QMS.  It was decided that instead of updating AS9003 to a QMS, AS9100 should do a better job explaining or showing how to exclude requirements for make-to-print companies, and other types of companies who don’t need to meet all the AS9100 requirements, including complex concepts throughout the AS9100 standard that are really intended for companies that have design authority, and product design responsibility. An Americas 9100 writing team has been selected to perform the 5-Year Review Study, and several members of the AS9003 writing team are included to help address this gap with tailoring AS9100 for less complex companies.

There’s still a place for AS9003.  The space and defense industry use AS9003 and write it into supplier contracts, although it is no longer a 3rd party certified standard (due to the low volume and low demand for certification).   Some may ask why the space and defense industries use this simpler quality standard. Some of the reasons are that there are many companies in the US that are not ISO 9001 or AS9100 certified, but they have proven themselves to be viable suppliers for extremely low volume, make-to-print, non-complex products.  The space and defense customers wish to use these uncertified suppliers, and use AS9003 as a minimum acceptable standard to approve suppliers via product measurement, inspections and test.  The customers are willing to take on the risk and validation responsibility for the parts working in the end-use application, as long as the parts meet the specifications, and these suppliers can demonstrate compliance with AS9003.

SimpleQuE’s certified AS auditors can perform annual AS9003 compliance audits and provide a Letter of Compliance.  Contact us for a free quote.

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