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NADCAP vs. AS9100: Key Differences Explained

by | Dec 8, 2022

In the aerospace sector, safety is the one issue that commands attention. Naturally, this goes hand in hand with high-quality parts.

Which makes sense because electronic components used in aerospace are subjected to harsh environments. There is a high risk of failure if they are not strong enough to withstand such circumstances, which could endanger lives. Repairing faulty components on vessels operating so high above the ground and moving at speeds of hundreds of miles per hour can be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

To ensure performance, efficiency, and safety above all else, the manufacturing of aerospace parts is subject to a number of strict regulations. In this regard, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are accountable. There are a few essential component considerations for aerospace PCB design standards:

  • Whether all material specifications have been followed
  • How long it can last before it needs maintenance
  • Tolerance to harsh conditions
  • Type of testing and inspection required
  • Whether it’s fully compliant with design standards
  • Whether sufficient risk assessment has been conducted

Nadcap and AS9100 Rev. D are a couple of the accreditations that are applicable in this industry. It may be difficult to decide which of the two is necessary or which should come first when developing an aerospace quality management system (QMS). You must have a firm understanding of each in order to make this decision.

One thing to keep in mind is that before a Nadcap audit can be performed, the company’s quality system must be certified to AS9100 (or an equivalent standard) under the Nadcap process accreditation requirements. Therefore, before Nadcap, you must have the fundamental AS9100 QMS requirements in place.

You can find a thorough comparison of Nadcap vs. AS9100 in this article to help you decide which standard you need.


What Is NADCAP Certification?

Nadcap is an accreditation program run by the PRI (Performance Review Institute) that brings together government stakeholders and industry experts to ensure adherence to a set of standards for the supplier approval process. Because Nadcap is an industry-managed organization, the government and businesses collaborate to develop the standards and accredit various aerospace suppliers. 

Before Nadcap was established, the majority of aerospace companies would audit their suppliers to make sure they complied with a number of internal standards. Due to this, there were multiple audits, which significantly increased the suppliers’ workload.

However, the majority of subcontractor failures in the aerospace manufacturing sector could be linked to issues with process and quality control in a small number of unique processes. 

These unique procedures were formally identified by Nadcap Prime subscribers, and a number of regulations and audits were put in place to ensure industry standardization and get rid of redundant audits. The audit criteria (AC) are regularly evaluated and improved after being adopted by industry consensus. As a result, compliance is easier to maintain because it is accepted by all significant stakeholders.

These unique processes are the subject of extremely technical audits. They enforce high standards for quality within the aerospace manufacturing sector and are not just a paperwork exercise.


How Does It Work?

The special process audit requirements of Nadcap must be met by the new supplier before a prime subscriber engages them. Figure 1 depicts a high-level flow chart of the Nadcap accreditation procedure. The process starts with the OEM asking the supplier to submit an application for Nadcap certification. 

After that, the supplier must get in touch with Nadcap and ask for an auditor for their procedure, who is supplied by the PRI. Before the actual audit, a supplier will usually want to make sure that their pertinent special processes meet Nadcap’s requirements. After that, Nadcap will schedule the audit and designate an auditor.

Following the audit, the auditor will present their findings and call attention to any non-conformances. Following that, the findings of the original auditor’s report will be reviewed by the supplier and PRI technical staff, who serve as an additional support function. 

Before the PRI technical staff sends the audit report to the prime subscriber, any non-conformances must be resolved. The report’s findings will then be confirmed by a task force at the OEM. Any remaining non-conformances that the task group may have discovered should be resolved at the conclusion of this procedure, and the supplier will be given a certificate.

What Does NADCAP Audit?

Instead of focusing on individual craftsmanship, NADCAP implements procedural audits of a company’s adherence to the process. Materials, material allocation, outsourcing, purchasing, documentation, operator consistency, and equipment are all thoroughly examined by NADCAP. Every employee is audited at every touchpoint. 

Non-destructive testing (NDT) audits are specific to each application if a company uses NDT. In other words, there are audits for X-ray radiography and liquid penetrant. Welding process audits, such as manual or metal arc, are carried out. Audits cover every step of the procedure, from when the welder receives instructions to when the client receives the product.

The accreditation is not a one-off process and needs to be performed every 12 months. The renewal process is the same as the original audit, and if standards were maintained from the last audit, the renewal audit will be less arduous. However, it’s important to stay up to date with any changes that may have been made by Nadcap to ensure continued compliance.

Who Requires NADCAP Approval? 

Any business that provides parts or services to aerospace OEMs who are Nadcap subscribers may be subject to an audit. It depends on whether or not the supplier uses one of the unique procedures Nadcap has called attention to. 

Airbus, Boeing, Rolls Royce, and GE Aviation are just a few of the numerous significant original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the aerospace industry that are Nadcap members. The prime subscriber will include Nadcap accreditation as a non-negotiable condition of future business dealings if the organization performing these processes is not accredited. 

Additionally, a supplier has the option to proactively start the accreditation process without the direct request of a prime subscriber.


Benefits Of Being NADCAP Certificated


Validation For The Aerospace Industry

It is necessary for many important aerospace companies to have Nadcap accreditation. Suppliers who maintain their Nadcap accreditations may find the tendering process with these companies to be more straightforward. The OEM won’t waste time helping a non-accredited supplier comply with regulations. Nadcap accreditation carries more weight than ISO 9001 accreditation in proving that a company strictly adheres to industry-recognized best practices because it shows that thorough internal audits of special processes were conducted and the supplier’s actual processes adhere to the necessary standards.

Nadcap certification is a requirement for any company that wants to work with the biggest names in the global aerospace industry. Thanks to this accreditation, these aerospace industry giants will be able to rely on a supplier to uphold the strict standards of the industry. This can aid a company in the aerospace sector in standing out from unaccredited competitors and achieving some level of international recognition. 

By improving the overall standard of a company’s manufacturing processes, Nadcap accreditation also reduces warranty costs. The aerospace industry is well aware that Nadcap accreditation is worthwhile because it ensures quality.

Other Benefits

Last but not least, obtaining NADCAP certification gives companies the chance to assess and enhance how they carry out their duties. The NADCAP auditing procedures are designed to help businesses identify their areas for growth and to recognize the market for its successful practices. 

By recording how work is done and how materials are handled, it is possible to ascertain whether a process is outdated, whether a workflow is difficult to maintain, or whether some key process indicators need to take precedence. 

This becomes even more significant when compared to the recommendations of a global network of technical experts, contractors, suppliers, and government representatives.

Companies and suppliers who consent to an audit get new insights into their functionality as well as a running list of improvements. System escapes and field failures can both be avoided with careful analysis and methodical change. A portion of the cost decreases as process variability is decreased.

If justified, the gap between audits may grow as a NADCAP-certified supplier keeps lowering and improving audit findings. Because the supplier is a NADCAP-recognized supplier, the customer can do away with or replace the pricey individual audits that their quality department would otherwise demand. NADCAP certification is a covert way for major aerospace and defense contractors to say they have confidence in your company, whereas historically they have sent out individual personnel to audit suppliers. 

It is easier for a company to trust its suppliers because they are aware of the requirements set forth by NADCAP.

NADCAP Benefits


What Is AS9100 Certification?

EN9100:2018, also known as AS9100D or AS9100, is the most recent standard for businesses that design, develop, or provide aviation, space, and defense products and services, including parts, components, and assemblies. With assistance from representatives of aviation, space, and defense companies in the Americas, Asia/Pacific, and Europe, the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) developed the standard.

Similar to earlier iterations of AS9100, EN9100:2018 standardizes the requirements for quality management systems for companies involved in the aerospace industry and supply chain. The standard achieves this by supplementing the general ISO 9001 standards for quality management systems with sector-specific guidelines for the secure development, production, and distribution of high-quality aerospace parts and products.

To improve their performance in terms of quality, cost, and delivery, organizations from all over the world can become certified under the AS9100 standard. This was accomplished by reducing or eliminating organization-specific requirements, effectively implementing a quality management system, and applying more moral business practices.

In addition to AS9100, a general aerospace industry standard, the IAQG has also created two other more specific aerospace management standards, AS9110 and AS9120. Aerospace Management Systems for Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) Stations, the earlier standard, modifies AS9100 to add new requirements for the maintenance of civil, military, and private aircraft. The latter, Aerospace Management Systems for Stockist Distributors, adds requirements for the manufacture of aerospace materials and the sourcing of component suppliers. NQA has the ability to assess compliance with AS9100, AS9110, and AS9120.

Because AS9100 certification helps ensure an organization has adequate quality management systems in place, many aerospace manufacturers and suppliers will only work with certified partners. As a result, every company involved in the aerospace industry should consider obtaining AS9100 certification.

AS9100 Certification

What Is An AS9100 Audit? 

A crucial step in the Quality Management System procedures is the AS9100 audit. In general, an audit involves gathering evidence of what is occurring in the processes and comparing it to the process’s intended arrangements. When actual activities match planned activities, the audit’s goal is to confirm conformance; however, if processes are not going as expected, this is noted. This audit evidence is gathered through interviews, observations, and documentation reviews.

The organization hires individuals to carry out internal audits of the processes and provide feedback to the business on how well the processes are performing in comparison to the plans as part of the QMS. Many businesses will also employ impartial, outside certification auditors to assess their systems against the AS9100 requirements and issue a certification that all requirements have been met. The term for this is AS9100 certification.


Benefits Of Being AS9100 Certificated 

Better Customer Satisfaction

The AS9100 standard mandates that you concentrate your efforts on comprehending your customers’ needs in order to more effectively meet their needs. More repeat business and, consequently, higher future sales are correlated with higher customer satisfaction.

Improved Company Image

Enhanced brand recognitionAS9100 is now expected by customers by default because it is the internationally recognized standard for Quality Management Systems in aerospace businesses. 

It will be very challenging, if not impossible, to fulfill your first order for a customer if they expect you to have AS9100 certification. If they don’t make their first purchase, you won’t be able to convince them of the quality of your goods and services, and you’ll lose them as a client even before you begin.

Better Decision-Making

AS9100 promotes making decisions based on facts and data rather than hazy assumptions and integrates your top management into the QMS. Making decisions based on data will help you direct your efforts toward pressing problems, which could result in cost savings.

Enhanced Efficiency

AS9100 emphasizes understanding how these processes interact and is based on the process approach to understanding how you provide your products and services. You can identify and remove systemic inefficiencies for better product and service delivery by adopting this perspective on your entire business process.

Engaging Your Employees

You can make sure that your processes are working as expected by defining and mapping them and involving the individuals who are part of them in the activity. You can also engage your workforce in efforts to improve processes and increase customer satisfaction. Who could improve your procedures and look for time and money-saving opportunities better?

Better Supplier Relationships

By putting a priority on relationships that are mutually beneficial, you can find ways to collaborate with your suppliers to raise customer satisfaction. Suppliers who cooperate with you can provide you with goods that are quicker and less expensively delivered and are better suited to your needs. You can establish long-term contracts with suppliers who benefit from your partnership and who can help you save time and money in the long run.

Consistent Improvement

Finding ways to make the management system progressively better over time, or through continual improvement, is one of the fundamental ideas ingrained in the AS9100 requirements. 

Your engaged workforce can be focused on finding ways to make the processes they are involved in better, faster, and more affordable by implementing improvements into your daily operations. By using your quality management system in this way, you will experience savings in both time and money over the years.

AS9100 Certification Benefits


NADCAP vs. AS9100: Key Differences

AS9100 Rev. D is a standard set of requirements for implementing an aerospace quality management system. It complies with all requirements for quality management established by the ISO 9001:2015 international standard. These specifications are acknowledged as the industry standard for a management system aimed at delivering goods and services that satisfy customers and increase their retention.

Therefore, whereas Nadcap accreditations are used to ensure that a supplier meets all requirements for a specific special process, AS9100 is an aerospace standard that specifies requirements to implement and maintain a QMS for the aerospace industry. While any aerospace company can implement an AS9100 QMS, Nadcap accreditation is only valid for specific company processes. For instance, Nadcap will not accredit you for heat treatment if you do not perform it.

You can use eAudioNet, a program that collaborates with the PRI’s accreditation programs and systems, to obtain Nadcap certification. It has a database of all accredited businesses called Nadcap.


How To Find Out If A Company Is AS9100 Certified

Performance and longevity of components are key success factors for aerospace businesses. Components that fall short of the desired threshold might need ongoing maintenance, which would raise the cost of operations. Even worse, any issue could lead to catastrophic accidents that cause the loss of lives, damage expensive equipment, and erode consumer trust in your company’s reputation.

Working with suppliers is inevitable because not all such components or services can be handled internally. To avoid such risks, it is crucial to confirm that suppliers are properly accredited when looking for aerospace manufacturing services. You can verify this by asking for a copy of their certificate, contacting the pertinent accrediting bodies, or speaking with their registrar.


Which Accreditation Do You Need?

Your contracts contain the information you need for Nadcap accreditations. Regarding which special processes they need to have accredited to Nadcap, customers will be very specific. If you employ these procedures, you will require a Nadcap accreditation in order to serve this client. Even if you offer elastomer seals, your customers may not insist that you hold Nadcap accreditation for this unique product. 

The majority of the time, businesses do not want to incur additional costs associated with needlessly accrediting their processes or products if there is no requirement from a customer. However, fulfilling this need must be a top priority if you do require a Nadcap-accredited process to satisfy a customer requirement.

Regarding AS9100, even if it is not a requirement of a contract, you can still decide to implement a QMS that complies with these aerospace standards within your business. By doing this, you’ll be able to serve the needs of your current clients while also qualifying for upcoming work with brand-new clients in the aerospace industry. 

These specifications enable you to develop the system required to offer goods and services that satisfy customers’ needs and enhance both your business and their satisfaction.


Final Thoughts: The Choice Is Yours 

The implementation of AS9100 or Nadcap will need to be weighed and understood by your particular company, as with many other business decisions, because the solution is different for everyone. As has already been mentioned, you won’t really have a choice to make if you have custom requirements that demand accreditation for both Nadcap and AS9100 — you must implement both. 

If there are no customer requirements, you will have to decide for yourself based on what you believe the needs of potential customers will be or the advantages that the implementation will bring to your business. In order to improve your business for both the present and the future, you must evaluate which systems to implement. 

However, at Valence we are Nadcap, AS9100, and ITAR certified and serve the global supply chain with the most comprehensive set of processing capabilities and approvals for high-value, mission-critical parts. 

From the smallest part to a large aerostructure assembly, Valence is your one-stop-shop in the supply chain for metal finishing. 

Get a quote from us today for your next project.

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