The quality management system standard for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MR&O) facilities, AS9110, was published in the Americas Sector in 2003. Certification Bodies (CBs) have finally received resolution from the Registration Management Committee (RMC) as to what it will take to begin performing accredited audits under the Industry Controlled Other Party (ICOP) process. ‘AS9110, Quality Maintenance Systems - Aerospace - Requirements for Maintenance Organizations’, is based on the ISO 9001:2000 standard and specifies additional requirements for a quality management system (QMS) for aerospace maintenance organizations. The additional aerospace requirements are shown in bold, italic text, just as in AS9100.
CBs and aerospace maintenance organizations wishing to pursue registration to AS9110 have been awaiting this resolution for quite some time. International harmonization of the required AS9110 checklist took almost two years.
Requirements for CBs to conduct accredited audits to AS9110 are defined in two documents. The international requirements are in AS9104 and Americas Sector specific requirements are in AIR5359. The main issues affecting CBs are auditor qualifications, training and witness audits. At a recent RMC meeting, a resolution was voted on and passed that will address these issues, as well as issues for Accreditation Bodies. The resolution is going to require CB auditors who do not have recent industry experience to go through a more extensive training program. The training program will be an in-depth competency course, with a focus on specific MR&O requirements. At the time of this writing, there are no approved competency courses, but it is understood that several training providers are close to having their programs approved. Once the training courses are approved, it is expected to take upwards of six months to get auditors trained and approved.
This recent resolution is going to prolong the process to train and approve auditors, and for organizations to achieve registration to AS9110. However, one thing to keep in mind is that MR&O facilities have a significant impact on airworthiness and public safety, possibly more so than the OEMs building new product. There are literally thousands and thousands of maintenance and repair stations that perform a multitude of services. With current levels of regulatory staffing, it is a challenge to perform effective oversight. AS9110, with increased auditor competencies, should close that gap and have a significant impact on safety in the aviation industry for years to come.