Small Businesses Dominate the Aerospace Industry: An Analysis of AS9100 Series Certifications

SimpleQuE chart of AS9100 series of certification by company size

Small businesses are leading the way with the most AS9100, AS9110 and AS9120 certifications

The aerospace sector, renowned for its cutting-edge technology and high-value contracts, might be perceived as a playing field for only the largest corporations. However, a closer look at the distribution of AS9100, AS9110, and AS9120 certifications—standards critical for maintaining quality and safety in the aviation, space and defense industry—reveals a different narrative, one where small businesses play a pivotal role.

Statistics shared at the Americas Aerospace Quality Group (AAQG) Spring 2024 meeting, reveal that a staggering 96% of AS9100 series certified companies have fewer than 500 employees. This figure is strikingly close to the Small Business Administration’s finding that 99.9% of U.S. businesses are classified as small (having fewer than 500 employees). This similarity underscores the significant presence of small businesses within the aerospace sector, much like in the broader national economy. The breakdown of the sizes of these aerospace-certified companies provides further insight, as seen in the chart.

  • 43% of Aerospace certified companies have 0 – 25 employees
  • 19% have 26 – 50 employees
  • 16% have 51 – 100 employees
  • 18% have 101 – 499 employees
  • 4% have 500 or more employees

Comparing these figures to general small business data where 70% of the companies are individually owned and operated according to the Chamber of Commerce, it’s clear that the aerospace industry, while specialized, still largely relies on smaller, more nimble companies. This could include smaller divisions of large corporations or locally operated businesses that maintain less than 250 employees.

The data doesn’t lie: small businesses are not only thriving in the aerospace industry but are a fundamental part of its structure. The robust presence of AS9100 series certified small businesses within aerospace highlights their indispensable role and reflects a broader economic pattern where small enterprises constitute the backbone of the U.S. economy. Moving forward, recognizing and supporting these small entities will be crucial as they continue to push the boundaries of aerospace technology and innovation.

Read our blog AS9100, AS9100 and AS9120 Aerospace Certifications Worldwide to see the latest certification stats for aerospace suppliers. 

Serving aerospace and defense manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and repair stations since 2005, simpleQuE offers customized AS9100AS9110 and AS9120, or ASA-100 (FAA AC00-56) consultinginternal auditing, and training services nationwide.

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