Quality assurance

Quality Assurance By Brian Whitehead March 1999 Brian Whitehead is chief, policy development for the Aircraft Maintenance & Manufacturing branch in Ottawa. E-mail questions or comments to whitehb@tc.gc.ca. Procedures to ensure that...

To further illustrate this point, QA inspectors should not propose any corrective action for the deficiencies they find. To do so could detract from their independence, giving them a vested interest in the success of the proposal. This could make them less objective in any future inspection of the modified system. In effect, they could become part of the problem, instead of being part of the solution.

While QA personnel are not involved in any corrective action, they are required to analyze the deficiencies they find, and identify the probable cause or causes.

This is the real strength of QA. Instead of simply acting as a final filter for the rejection of faulty work, QA is a proactive technique that identifies weaknesses before harm can result. QA findings must be formally reported to the person responsible for maintenance (i.e., the Director of Maintenance or equivalent position) who is responsible for taking appropriate corrective action. They must also be made available to the certificate holder, who has final authority for all activities performed under the authority of the AMO certificate.

Because the QA analysis looks at the entire process, corrective action may be applied anywhere in the system, often far removed from the event that prompted the finding. Typical responses could include a change in procedures, improvements in equipment, better lighting, changes to the training program, or modification of a component, to name just a few. Often, a combination of actions will be indicated. Where appropriate, both immediate and long-term corrective actions must be addressed. All action taken must be documented, and the QA department notified. Future QA inspections will then track the results of the corrective action, to verify its effectiveness.

The Approved Maintenance Organization Standards include details of acceptable methods for complying with the QA program requirements. Among the chief requirements is an initial self-audit of all aspects of the AMO's technical activities within 12 months following the initial issue of the AMO certificate (This is additional to the ongoing QA inspection functions). Thereafter, a recurring cycle of further audits must be carried out at intervals established in the approved Maintenance Policy Manual.

The adoption of Quality Assurance techniques is one more example of the maturity of the aircraft maintenance industry. By no longer taking a purely reactive approach to quality, AMOs can look ahead and manage this critical aspect of their operations using the same professional business strategies that they apply to the commercial side of their operations.

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