A Recipe for Quality: Tastes vary in quality process systems

A Recipe for Quality Tastes vary in quality process systems By Michelle Garetson November 1999 Creating a quality process for the maintenance facility can be likened to preparing a food dish -- the better the recipe and...

Tom Willis, a certified quality auditor, an FAA Designated Airworthiness Representative, an A&P, and president of Quality Management Solutions LP, an aviation quality management consulting, training and auditing firm, further explains AS 9000.

"This standard contains all of ISO 9001 plus more than 20 additions peculiar to the needs of the Aerospace manufacturer.Willis adds, "AS 9100 awaits release until the Europeans complete their formal balloting, at which time the document will be jointly released in Europe as EN 9100 and in the United States as AS 9100 around mid-November."

Other choices
There are other choices for quality standards and business tools in aviation.

"In the repair world," says Willis, "a Part 145 Repair Station applicant will not get far with the FAA until they have committed to base their facility on the management of quality. Hence, the FAR speaks of an Inspection Procedures Manual. The proposed revision to FAR 145 expands on the application of quality processes by adding a Quality Assurance element."

• ASA-100 Standard for aircraft parts distributors seeking not registration to ISO 9000 but "accreditation" under AC 00-56 - the Industry Voluntary Distributor Accreditation program.

•Kaizen - a Japanese word meaning "continuous improvement." Kaizen is a business practice that involves everyone -- managers and workers alike -- to constantly monitor and keep focus on company goals, which in turn, can improve efficiency, quality, and safety. Kaizen gave rise to the "just-in-time" inventory management system in an effort to streamline operations and reduce costs.

• Six Sigma - This is not a standard, but a tool for improving quality. Motorola pioneered the use of this tool in the 1980's and the most celebrated application in aviation is within GE.

AlliedSignal has applied the statistical techniques used in Six Sigma to the design of the new AS900 engine for mid-sized corporate and regional jets. The company stated that time-to-certification was shortened from a typical 42 months to 33 months; saving time, money, and effort. It was reported that overall, application of Six Sigma principles has saved the company $500 million in 1998, and is projected to save $600 million in 1999.

Quality Resources

American Society for Quality (ASQ) 611 E. Wisconsin Ave., P.O. Box 3005, Milwaukee, WI 53201,
800-248-1946 or (414) 272-8575;

International Organization for standardization, (ISO) 1, rue de VarembŽ, Case postale 56, CH-1211 Gen?ve 20 Switzerland,
Tel: + 41-22- 749-01-11;

KAIZEN Institute - America 1811 W. 35th St., Austin TX 78703
(512) 452-2696;

Quality Management Solutions LP, N14 W23777 Stone Ridge Dr., Ste. 170, Waukesha, WI 53188 (262) 523-4004; www.qmslpnet.com

The order of things
What's the order of business once a facility has decided to pursue certification? How does the FAA enter the fray?

"A company that is serious about maintaining relationships with customers and suppliers alike will eventually need to get serious about an advanced quality system such as ISO 9000 or AS 9100," says Willis. "Lots of time and money can be (and often is) wasted by trying to piecemeal a system together. We recommend the use of an outside provider who KNOWS aviation and is willing to first offer to conduct a ÔGAP Analysis.' Once the company knows where it is (in relation to a given standard), the management team can consider all the options."

FAA has verbally and in writing stated that while ISO 9000 is meant to help a company maintain and improve quality, the FAA cannot accept a company's registration in lieu of FAA surveillance. In essence, FAA generally will work with a company that has decided to go ISO however, the Principal will reserve the right to make specific requests of a certificate holder to "demonstrate compliance." It's a good idea to keep the FAA in the loop throughout every phase of the implementation process.

Is it worth the effort?
"Some companies have done only that which was required by the regulations of their locale," explains Willis. "Others have invested considerable sums of money into the development of elaborate quality systems because they feel that the investment will give them competitive advantage. Because change is a fact of life, every company will benefit from the skilled management of quality."

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