The aerospace industry is one of the most highly regulated industries in the world, requiring rigorous quality control measures to ensure the safety and reliability of its products. One such measure is the AS9102B, a standard that provides a comprehensive framework for first article inspection (FAI) in the aerospace sector. This article will delve into the details of AS9102B, discussing its importance, scope, and key components.

First Article Inspection with InspectionQuest

What is AS9102B?

AS9102B is a standard developed by the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG), which consists of representatives from various aerospace organizations such as Boeing, Airbus, and Rolls-Royce. It is a revision of the original AS9102, which was first published in 2004. AS9102B specifically outlines the requirements for the FAI process in aerospace manufacturing.

Importance of AS9102B

The aerospace industry demands a high level of quality control due to the potential consequences of failure in flight-critical components. AS9102B is a crucial tool in ensuring that products meet the necessary standards before they enter service. By standardizing the FAI process, AS9102B helps to:

  1. Verify that the manufacturing process is capable of producing parts and assemblies that meet engineering specifications.
  2. Ensure that all design and specification requirements are properly understood and documented by the manufacturer.
  3. Provide a uniform method for documenting and communicating FAI results.
  4. Facilitate change management and traceability for any deviations or non-conformities found during the FAI process.

Scope of AS9102B

The standard applies to any aerospace manufacturing organization that produces parts, components, or assemblies for use in the industry. AS9102B covers the entire FAI process, from planning and documentation to the actual inspection and verification of the first article.

Key Components of AS9102B

FAI Planning: The first step in the process requires the manufacturer to create an FAI plan, outlining the inspection requirements, methods, and criteria for the first article. This plan should be reviewed and approved by both the manufacturer and the customer.

FAI Documentation: AS9102B mandates the use of three standardized forms for the FAI process:

Form 1 – Part Number Accountability: This form captures the part number, any associated sub-tier part numbers, and the relevant design characteristics and requirements.

Form 2 – Product Accountability: This form details the materials, processes, and functional tests used in the production of the first article, along with their respective specifications and results.

Form 3 – Characteristic Accountability, Verification, and Compatibility Evaluation: This form documents the inspection results for each design characteristic, including dimensions, tolerances, and any non-conformities.

FAI Inspection: The actual inspection of the first article is a critical step in the process. It involves verifying that the manufacturing process has produced a part or assembly that conforms to the design requirements specified in the engineering drawings, specifications, and other relevant documents.

FAI Report: Upon completion of the inspection, the manufacturer must compile a comprehensive FAI report. This report should include all the relevant forms, along with any supporting documentation such as inspection records, test reports, and certificates of conformance.

FAI Approval: The FAI report must be reviewed and approved by both the manufacturer and the customer to ensure that the first article meets all the necessary requirements.

Common Challenges and Reasons for Rejection When Submitting a FAI

The FAI process is a vital step in aerospace manufacturing, ensuring that components meet the required quality and safety standards. However, there can be challenges and reasons for rejection when completing and submitting an FAI to an aerospace customer. Some of the common challenges and reasons for rejection include:

  1. Incomplete documentation: Proper documentation is essential for a successful FAI submission. Failing to provide all the necessary information on the standardized forms (Form 1, Form 2, and Form 3), or omitting required supporting documents, such as material certificates or process control records, can lead to rejection.
  2. Non-conformities: If the inspection results reveal any non-conformities, i.e., instances where the first article does not meet the specified design requirements, the FAI may be rejected. Non-conformities may include dimensional discrepancies, incorrect materials or processes, or failed functional tests.
  3. Inadequate traceability: Traceability is crucial in the aerospace industry, as it allows for tracking the origin of materials, processes, and components throughout the supply chain. If the FAI submission lacks traceability information or contains inaccurate traceability records, the customer may reject the FAI.
  4. Improper use of measurement tools and techniques: Inaccurate measurements can lead to erroneous FAI results. The use of incorrect, uncalibrated, or inappropriate measurement tools or techniques during the inspection process can cause discrepancies in the FAI report, potentially resulting in rejection.
  5. Inaccurate or outdated engineering specifications: The FAI process relies on accurate and up-to-date engineering specifications, such as drawings, models, or other relevant documents. If the manufacturer uses outdated or incorrect specifications, the resulting FAI report may not accurately represent the part or assembly, leading to rejection.
  6. Insufficient communication and collaboration: The FAI process often involves multiple stakeholders, including the manufacturer, the customer, and any relevant sub-tier suppliers. Poor communication and collaboration among these parties can result in misunderstandings or oversights, potentially causing errors in the FAI documentation or inspection.
  7. Lack of understanding of AS9102B requirements: The aerospace industry has specific requirements for FAI documentation and inspection. If the manufacturer is unfamiliar with or does not fully understand the AS9102B standard, they may fail to meet the necessary requirements, leading to rejection.

How Inspection Software Can Help Aerospace Manufacturers Overcome FAIR Challenges and Reduce the Risk of Rejection

The use of inspection software, such as InspectionQuest, can play a significant role in overcoming challenges and common reasons for rejection in the FAI process. Here are some ways in which inspection software can help:

  1. Streamlined documentation: InspectionQuest can help automate the generation of FAI data, ensuring that all required fields are completed accurately and consistently. This reduces the risk of incomplete or incorrect documentation, which is a common reason for rejection.
  2. Enhanced traceability: InspectionQuest includes features for maintaining traceability records, such as linking material certificates, process control records, and other relevant documents to the FAI inspection data. This helps ensure accurate and complete traceability information, reducing the likelihood of rejection due to insufficient traceability.
  3. Improved accuracy: InspectionQuest can assist in reducing measurement errors by guiding inspectors through the appropriate measurement techniques and tools with our robust inspection plans. It can also help to ensure that all measurements are taken consistently and accurately, reducing the likelihood of non-conformities due to inaccurate measurements.
  4. Real-time collaboration and communication: InspectionQuest includes features that facilitate communication and collaboration among stakeholders, such as real-time data sharing, messaging, and document management. This can help to ensure that all parties are aligned and informed throughout the FAI process, reducing the risk of errors due to miscommunication.
  5. Automated data collection and analysis: InspectionQuest can help automate the collection and analysis of inspection data, reducing the risk of errors due to manual data entry or calculations. This can help to ensure that the FAI report accurately reflects the inspection results, reducing the likelihood of rejection due to discrepancies in the data.

Conclusion

The AS9102B standard plays a critical role in maintaining the high levels of quality and safety required in the aerospace industry. By providing a structured and consistent approach to the FAI process, it enables manufacturers to validate their production capabilities and ensure that their products meet specifications.

To mitigate challenges and minimize the risk of FAI rejection, manufacturers should thoroughly familiarize themselves with the AS9102B standard, invest in proper training for inspection personnel, maintain open lines of communication with customers and suppliers, and continually review and update their documentation and processes to ensure accuracy and conformance.

By incorporating inspection software into the FAI process, aerospace manufacturers can streamline their workflows, improve accuracy and traceability, and enhance collaboration and communication. This can ultimately help to reduce the likelihood of rejection, ensuring that components meet the stringent quality and safety standards required in the aerospace industry.  If you’re looking for an inspection software solution to help streamline your FAI process and reporting, reach out for a demo of our newest application, InspectionQuest, and take advantage of our no-cost 60-day Proof of Concept (POC) so you can see for yourself what our suite of applications can do for you.

Inspection Data Management System

InspectionQuest automates the creation of inspection records and the collection of inspection data so that decisions can be made quickly on the plant floor for process correction or product containment, as well as allowing the collected data to be analyzed to understand process control and capability so that key stakeholders have the data and tools necessary to implement process improvements.  With standardized and scheduled inspection instructions, techniques, and sampling plans, you’ll have the data you need to both make quick decisions on the plant floor as well as to plan and execute long-term process improvement.

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