ISO 9001 vs. AS 9100 for the Aerospace and Defense Industry

August 22, 2017

August 23, 2017


Quality management standards evolve over time, making your job as a quality management professional an ongoing challenge. Periodic changes to hallmark standards, such as ISO 9001 and AS 9100, provide a critical opportunity to reexamine your quality management system and raise total quality to the next level. Knowing how quality standards differ and change with each update is key to optimizing processes, people and technology at your company. Here’s a refresher on ISO 9001 and AS 9100, covering the most important similarities and differences between these two important standards.



The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is responsible for creating and maintaining several different standards. Essentially, the ISO 9001 and AS 9100 standards aim to harmonize global quality management processes. Over time, the success of the ISO 9001 series led to the introduction of industry-specific standards, laying the foundation for applying quality management across a broad range of industries, such as the aerospace and defense industries.

The ISO 9001 series is the basis for AS 9100. AS 9100 encapsulates ISO 9001 requirements to suit the quality system needs of the aerospace and defense industries more effectively. As ISO 9001 changes periodically, AS 9100 also changes to comply with new versions of ISO 9001. The International Organization for Standardization itself does not update and maintain the new versions of AS 9100. This responsibility lies with the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) which decides which changes to ISO 9001 to incorporate into updated versions of AS 9100.

Here is a closer look at what AS 9100 entails in comparison to the ISO 9001 series.



AS 9100 essentially takes ISO 9001 and amends its requirements and recommendations to suit the specific needs of the aerospace and defense industries. AS 9100 includes more specific references to the statutory and regulatory requirements that govern the aerospace and defense industry from a broader perspective. Also, AS 9100 takes the crucial step of adding risk management to the quality management equation. The standard also aims to address the needs of stakeholders better. The latest version of AS 9100 makes specific improvements to product realization requirements as well as major additions for corrective and preventive actions.



When it comes to creating and maintaining a sound quality management software, it is important to pay attention to the details of quality management standards such as ISO 9001 and AS 9100. At a glance, they appear to be interchangeable. But upon closer examination, AS 9100 contains some key revisions and alterations to ISO 9001. AS 9100 adds the terms “special requirements,” “critical items” and “key characteristics.” This kind of specificity is not exhibited by ISO 9001 in general, but for the purposes of AS 9100, these definitions set the stage for the rest of the standard.

Like ISO 9001, AS 9100 takes a process-based and risk management-based approach. Your ability to account for risk management in your quality management system plays a critical role.

Another key difference added to AS 9100 is in the standard’s management responsibility clauses. AS 9100 specifies that everyone must have unrestricted access to management when it comes to quality management concerns. However, the biggest differences between ISO 9001 and AS 9100 are in product realization.

Section seven of AS 9100 makes specific mentions to project management, verification and validation procedures, and post-delivery support. These are only three of the many additions to AS 9100 under product realization, which reflect the highly sensitive nature of manufacturing in aerospace and defense. The most important fact to note about AS 9100 is that the standard mirrors ISO 9001 only to a certain degree. AS 9100 is deviating gradually from ISO 9001 over time.

Despite their differences, AS 9100 and ISO 9001 are intertwined to a high degree. While differences do exist, the overarching theme is that changes to ISO 9001 affect AS 9100 periodically and need to be addressed by your quality management system. Knowing the differences is key to your quality management system’s success.

The aerospace and defense industries rely on AS 9100 to maintain and develop a consistent quality management system at a low cost, similar to how general manufacturers rely on the ISO 9001 series. The key differences to remember, however, revolve around scope, definitions of terms and product realization. As you look forward to ISO 9001 updates in the near future, you should also anticipate AS 9100 to also change.


For more information on ensuring an optimal quality management system, contact us today.





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