AS9100 Audit Checklist: Reviewing Key AS9100 Audit Questions & Training Tips

AS9100 Audit Checklist: Reviewing Key AS9100 Audit Questions & Training Tips

If your organization has built a quality management system (QMS) around the requirements of the aerospace AS9100 standard, has implemented it, and now is seeking to take the next step toward certification, it’s not unusual for you to feel some uncertainty around the type of AS9100 audit questions you’ll be asked during your assessment.

It’s important to remember that an auditor’s job is ultimately to verify that your quality management system meets the requirements set out in the AS9100 standard, not to catch you doing things incorrectly.

Considering that there are a lot of different areas an auditor could choose to focus on, we created a general AS9100 audit checklist that addresses critical areas that your organization should prepare for. By reading this article, you’ll learn about AS9100 audit questions, the definition of the AS9100 standard, and receive several expert AS9100 audit training tips that will help your organization proactively prepare for a successful audit score.

What Is the AS9100 Standard?

The AS9100 standard uses all the ISO 9001 standard clauses as a foundation, bolting on additional regulatory requirements and notations pertaining specifically to aerospace quality needs. Instead of being produced by ISO, AS9100 is backed by the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG), which includes representatives from many major worldwide aerospace companies. AS9100 certification is a common requirement in the aerospace industry.

There are seven critical sections within the AS9100 standard that are based on the ISO 9001:2015 framework, from which many potential AS9100 audit questions may stem from. Those sections include:

  1. Context
  2. Leadership
  3. Planning
  4. Support
  5. Operation
  6. Performance Evaluation
  7. Improvement 

Many of the additional requirements found in the AS9100 standard are based on the “Product Realization” (under the Operation) and “Measurement, Analysis, and Improvement” sections (under the Performance Evaluation and Improvement). These additional requirements are added to the list above due to their critical functions within the aerospace and defense industry and include the following:

  • Risk management
  • Controls
  • Counterfeit part management
  • Safety requirements
  • Configuration management

There are many other examples and areas within the standard where AS9100 audit questions can be pulled from, but these give you an idea of where to start to prepare your company.

Examples of AS9100 Audit Questions

With something like an AS9100 audit, each auditor that assesses certification to it has their own unique style in how they conduct interviews. They have their own lists of AS9100 audit questions based on their audit plan for your specific organization, and your organization will only know the details of the scope of the audit when your auditor provides the audit plan prior to their scheduled visit. However, there are some general sample external AS9100 audit questions that will occur during most assessments:

  • What is your quality policy?
  • What are your quality objectives?
  • How do you control and maintain documentation?
  • Do you have an internal audit schedule?
  • How do you manage findings from an internal audit?
  • How do you determine requirements for products and services?
  • How do you communicate with your customers?

AS9100 Audit Questions Related To Management Reviews

When a management review happens and what specifically is discussed are critical elements of the internal audit requirement under the “Improvement” section in the AS9100 standard. Some sample AS9100 audit questions regarding management’s responsibility might be:

  • What are the inputs reviewed during management review?
  • How does leadership demonstrate commitment to your quality management system?
  • Do your employees understand your quality objectives and how they apply to them?

It’s important to be clear when relaying the quality objectives to management, to ensure buy-in and underscore the importance of providing evidence of compliance.

AS9100 Audit Questions For Employees 

Employees that are involved in production and operations will also be involved in an AS9100 audit. Some examples of the kind of questions they may be asked include:

  • Are the processes detailed in your quality management system being followed? Can you provide evidence?
  • What is your understanding of your organization’s quality management system?
  • What controls are in place to ensure products and services meet requirements?
  • How do you control nonconforming products or services?

If your quality management system has been correctly implemented and well-maintained, your company’s employees should have no problem answering these types of AS9100 audit questions.

Benefits of AS9100 Certification

There are many benefits that can be gained by achieving AS9100 certification. Here are just a few examples:

  • Increases in efficiencies
  • Stronger supplier relationships
  • Risk reductions
  • Forming habits around continual improvement
  • Potential for cost savings

As it was referenced in one of the potential employee AS9100 audit questions, it’s important that your entire organization understands how your company can benefit from AS9100 certification. There is a real chance that some of the auditor’s questions may revolve around why a quality management system with AS9100 requirements was implemented in the first place.

AS9100 Audit Training & Preparation Tips 

With a better idea of what types of AS9100 audit questions can be asked during an audit, consider these fundamental tips on how to prepare for this type of audit and the interviews within:

  • Relax – Ultimately, the audit is not a personal one, it's only overarching objective is to determine the effectiveness of a quality management system
  • Be well-prepared — Utilize the audit plan provided by your auditor to help your team prepare. Typically, these are issued at least a month or two months ahead of the audit. If you have questions on the audit plan, contact your auditor or your certification body.
  • It’s okay to say you don’t know – If the interviewee isn’t sure of an answer, it’s okay to say so.
  • Take internal audits seriously — A rigorous internal audit with critical AS9100 internal audit questions can help employees and top management prepare for the external audit and interview.
  • Implement corrective actions — It's not enough to document nonconformances. You also must have a plan in place to address recurring issues.
  • Complete that management review — A thorough management review can expose additional areas that need to be addressed. Perform it early enough to provide time to fix issues that arise.
  • Monitor objectives correctly — Be able to demonstrate that you've tracked your progress on meeting objectives over time. 
  • Schedule a pre-assessment or gap analysis — While third-party auditors can’t provide consulting and will not tell you how to set up or manage your system, they can identify gaps ahead of the certification audit. Doing so will go a long way to giving you peace of mind that you will be prepared. Plus, you’ll get to meet your auditor ahead of time and can begin forming a strong relationship. Smithers offers pre-assessments, so contact us to learn more.

Looking for More Proven AS9100 Audit Training Tips & Preparation Strategies?

If you still have AS9100 audit questions or have further inquiries regarding how a third-party certification process works, in general, Smithers has years of experience in helping our clients through the AS9100 certification process. Contact us today to learn more

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