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Aerospace APQP

In 2009 the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) released a revision to AS9100, the quality management system (QMS) standard for the Aviation, Space and Defense industries. The AS9100 quality standard is based on ISO 9001, adding requirements specific to Aerospace. The goal of the IAQG is to improve product quality and on-time delivery of products through the cooperative implementation of initiatives intended to make significant improvements in quality and reductions in cost throughout the value stream.

The most recent initiative is the addition of Advance Product Quality Planning (APQP) to the Supply Chain Management Handbook (SCMH). The latest upload of documentation for this initiative is April 2014 although individual APQP Phase Checklists were made available in December 2013.

Although other industries (for example, the Automotive industry) have been using APQP, the needs of the Aerospace industry differs from other industries and the IAQG has developed guidance material which is tailored to better address these demands.

The Aerospace APQP was developed to foster a proactive and preventative mindset within the organization. It is a structured approach to product development to guarantee the new products satisfy customer needs and wants by utilizing cross functional teams that promote collaboration and communication, thus avoiding the creation of “functional silos” which tend to act independently. Aerospace APQP should be integrated into the program / project management to provide effective early warning and to support on-time and on-quality delivery of the product by monitoring key deliverables critical to quality.

The Aerospace APQP Model has 3 Pillars

APQP Principles
  • Organizational Commitment & Management Support
    • Full engagement and commitment of top management from project launch is key
  • Cross Functional Team
    • Ensures effective communication across the entire organization and enables faster product development
  • Effective Project Planning
    • Commitment of the project team to Aerospace APQP planning is key to the project success

The APQP principles are defined in terms of Phases, Elements and Deliverables.

Aerospace APQP
  • The five phases represent the logical steps taken to deliver product from concept to production. Each phase ends with defined outputs (milestones).
  • 46 elements are the discrete activities that need to be completed during a specific phase.
  • Deliverables are tangible evidence that an activity has been completed effectively.

The APQP Manual provides an Element Card for each element identifying the Element Owner, Definition, Deliverables, Necessary Inputs, Resources, Methodology and Reference documents.

For example:


Each deliverable has an associated checklist which consists of a set of short, simple, clear closed questions (designed to deliver Y/N answers). The checklist is used to assess the quality of the deliverable. The checklist is also used to:

  • Document references as evidence and records of deviations;
  • Record corrective actions to correct deviations;
  • Establish the first level of Red/Yellow/Green rating (based on answers to each questions).

Finally, the Aerospace APQP process includes a Production Part Approval Process (PPAP). This process, in additional to the FAI process, enables the supplier to demonstrate that their production process is consistently capable of producing product that meets customer requirements (see the Element Card example, above).

PPAP has been required by many Aerospace customers for several years now. Just some of the customers that require PPAP include Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier Aerospace, Spirit AeroSystems, UTC (UTAS, Pratt-Whitney, Hamilton Sundstrand, etc.), Snecma and Rolls-Royce) . Now, as part of the Aerospace APQP, PPAP is receiving industry recognition; however, the specific deliverables are still determined by the customer.

If integrated into the new product development activities as a prevention strategy rather than a “customer document generation process”, APQP will reduce “Infant Mortality” costs incurred on a new program. Together with PPAP (Including FAI), APQP will assure—with evidence—that manufacturing process functions are clearly planned, validated, documented and communicated that result in:

  • Reduced process variation
  • Statistically controlled processes
  • Enhanced customer confidence in supplier’s capabilities
  • Consistent quality and delivery
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