Lee Aerospace Is First Company in the World to Earn the Nadcap Aero Structure Assembly Accreditation

March 18, 2019
Lee Aerospace is a proven OEM supplier to major aircraft manufacturers, as well as a reliable aftermarket support to general and business aviation.

Wichita, KS – March 18, 2019 – Staying on the forefront of quality and innovation, Lee Aerospace has earned an impressive list of OEM approvals and accreditations in the aviation industry.  Now, Lee Aerospace can add the new Nadcap Aero Structure Assembly accreditation to its long list of credentials.  “As an active member of Nadcap, when the opportunity to be the first company for accreditation in a pilot program presented itself, we literally jumped at the chance,” said Tommy Howland, Director of Quality for Lee Aerospace.  “At Lee Aerospace, we strive to be the best in all aspects of our manufacturing processes, including transparencies, composites, and aerostructure assembly.

”Since its establishment in the summer of 2016, Nadcap’s newest Aero Structures Assembly (ASA) Task Group has evolved extensively with help from several Subscriber and Supplier task group members. The task group’s origin began in January of 2015 when an auditor observed sealing and subsequent assembly operations while performing a pilot audit to the AC7219 sealing of aerospace assemblies and components checklist process. This observation led the Nadcap Management Council (NMC) to evaluate the significance and necessary involvement for accreditation of the assembly process.  As the survey proved, Nadcap Subscribers were undoubtedly interested in promoting this field for credentials.  

By employing decades’ worth of experiences, representatives from Northrop Grumman, Spirit AeroSystems, Airbus, and BAE Systems began engaging in task group discussions to organize the scope and criteria for each of the AC7135 ASA Checklists. The group has now grown from 12 industry representatives to 28 ASA task members. 

Some of the group’s first undertakings were developing a baseline checklist and converting the AC7219 checklist to an ASA slash sheet. Chris Lowe of Spirit AeroSystems replaced Craig Bowden of BAE Systems as current Chairperson and has led the group in countless reviews and rulings of the technical benchmarks for each of the checklists listed:

  • AC7135 - Baseline Checklist
  • AC7135/1 - Fastening
  • AC7135/2 - Electrical Bonding
  • AC7135/3 - Bushing and Bearing Installation
  • AC7135/4 - Sealing of Aerospace Assemblies and Components

Howland, a supplier voting member and NMC ASA Supplier Representative, solicited his employer, Lee Aerospace, Inc., to be the first Aero Structure Assembly accredited company in the world.  The audit was held from September 10-14, 2018 in Wichita, Kansas. 

Lee Aerospace, Inc. was forged by President and owner, Jim Lee, in the late 1980’s, primarily as a window manufacturer. Thirty years later, the company campus houses over 150,000 sqft. of manufacturing facilities.  Lee Aerospace programs include full fuselage builds for two different OEM’s, in addition to major, complex and sub-assembly work, large-scale composite manufacturing, and window production for numerous major aircraft manufacturers. 

Multiple buildings were involved in the successful testing of the ASA criteria. The audit, conducted by Nadcap Auditor Frank Ead, was in-depth and covered the scope of all four checklists. Task group members from Lockheed Martin and Spirit AeroSystems joined the auditor as observers and allowed enhanced feedback for the validity of the checklist and job audits performed. 

During and after the pilot audit, several additional goals for the ASA Task Group materialized including:

  • Balloting the current checklists for release
  • Developing semi-automatic and automatic fastening processes into slash sheets
  • Interviewing and hiring additional ASA auditors 
  • Encouraging companies to mandate the accreditation
  • Conducting additional ASA audits by 4th Quarter 2018
  • Discussing further concerns/goals at the Nadcap Conference in Pittsburgh, PA (Oct 2018)

The Task Group continues to meet at all Nadcap Meetings and also holds monthly conference and WebEx calls. Interested Subscribers and Suppliers are always welcome to attend. For additional information about the Aero Structures Assembly Task group or for more information about the ASA Program and Task Group activities, please contact Keith Purnell at [email protected].  If you or someone you know has Aero Structure Assembly experience and is interested in becoming a Nadcap Auditor, please contact Jennifer Eckels at [email protected]

About Lee Aerospace Inc. – Lee Aerospace is headquartered in Wichita, Kansas and was founded in 1989 by owner and President, Jim Lee.  Starting as a production facility for Boeing 737/757 cabin windows, Lee Aerospace has grown through the years to include advanced aerospace transparency design, an FAA 145 Certified repair facility offering repair and installation, major and complex aerostructure assemblies and composite manufacturing programs for some of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world.  Lee Aerospace is a proven OEM supplier to major aircraft manufacturers, as well as a reliable aftermarket support to general and business aviation.  Lee Aerospace is an ISO AS9100D and Nadcap accredited aviation supplier.

About Nadcap - Nadcap is an industry-managed approach to conformity assessment that brings together technical experts from both Industry and Government to establish requirements for accreditation, accredit Suppliers and define operational program requirements. This results in a standardized approach to quality assurance and a reduction in redundant auditing throughout the aerospace industry. Nadcap is administered by the not-for-profit Performance Review Institute (PRI), a global provider of customer-focused solutions designed to improve process and product quality by adding value, reducing total cost and promoting collaboration among stakeholders in industries where safety and quality are shared goals. Learn more at http://www.p-r-i.org/Nadcap/ or contact PRI at [email protected]