What is a First Article Inspection?

First Article Inspection, commonly referred to as FAI, is a leading means of inspecting and testing products in the early stages of production. This quality assurance process is designed to save time and money later on in development by establishing a high level of accuracy and consistency. Additionally, FAI helps to ensure that products are manufactured to the exact specifications and stringent quality standards of the purchasing manufacturer, meaning that they pose no safety risks.

The noun “First Article Inspection” refers to the act of comparing a physical sample production part with the specifications against which it was designed, before mass production begins.

FAI standards call for the proper documentation and verification in detail of production methods. That includes tooling, all elements of development, material specifications, and testing processes and measurements. A First Article Inspection report serves as the record for the company and addresses government regulations that require such materials to be completed and kept on file.

Typically, the more complex the production component, the more complex the FAI process and documentation will be.

DISCUS FAI software is designed to streamline this process, and provides assurance that products are manufactured to the specifications and quality standards purchasing manufacturers demand.

An FAI report must include the following inspection results:

  • Dimensional measurements
  • Specification requirements
  • Product part number and name
  • Detailed statistical analysis
  • Design characteristics

DISCUS solutions provide line of sight into the current specifications necessary for a variety of industries. With DISCUS Desktop, businesses can tailor their FAI needs via an easy-to-use interface, designed to provide direct line of sight into compliance standards.

FAI is routinely practiced in the aerospace industry, automotive industry, and to a lesser extent medical industry, all of which require stringent quality control inspections on the part of each supplier before the full-scale production run can begin. These industries must follow strict and complex regulations to ensure dependability, reliability, and safety, as non-conformance could lead to costly corrective actions and lawsuits.

Regulatory agencies and standards organizations work to define and evolve various quality requirements for specific industries. For example, the aerospace industry has a standard labeled AS9102 developed by the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG).

In summary, many industries make an FAI report a requirement as part of the detailed verification of production before the ongoing manufacturing workflow can begin.

Why Does The First Article Inspection Process Matter?

If something goes wrong with the product, or a necessary change is identified in either the product design or the manufacturing process after production begins, all output produced to that point is useless — a waste of time, effort, and resources. If an FAI report is not carefully and completely performed, these flawed components could be installed in the end product. That ultimately leads to negative outcomes. In certain situations, it even means endangering the lives of patients, travelers, drivers, pedestrians, and many other groups.

A proper FAI report will:

    • Allow for verification of drawings to represent necessary adjustments for parts design.
    • Help to verify the production process in a comprehensive manner that considers every parameter, not only aspects that are deemed “most critical.”
    • Verify that tooling is in the right condition and can be relied upon to produce parts within defined specifications.
    • Ensure that fixed process documentation attachments are available.
    • Detail customer approvals.
    • Associate process certification with the correct revision levels.

The FAI report for a single production part often requires a full 24 hours of labor on the part of engineers and other technical professionals. By organizing the many aspects of an FAI inspection, DISCUS FAI software can reduce the cost and time involved and prevent errors along the way. These advantages help companies streamline their production process. FAI software by DISCUS can increase the speed of the FAI process by as much as 50%, streamlining this crucial process without making a sacrifice in terms of quality, dependability, or the overall final result.

The DISCUS Advantage

The DISCUS family of products is specifically designed to enable you to organize the technical data package or packages (TDP or TDPs) and capture the characteristic accountability of a part much more efficiently for the setup of the FAI process.

The DISCUS solution features a panel for analyzing and extracting characteristics from the drawing or model, as well as from the specifications. DISCUS then generates the list of part-specific characteristics and creates associated ballooned drawings.


In addition, our solution facilitates AS9102 first article inspection, PPAP, and Part 820 compliance. DISCUS empowers you to:

  • Assemble your CAD 3D models, ballooning, specs, and related Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T) documents.
  • Identify characteristic requirements, and manage them at a detailed level.
  • Export to an AS9102 FAI Excel spreadsheet, which can also be customized for each of your customer’s needs.

In summary, the DISCUS FAI solution can consolidate and organize all your information, saving you time and money. At the same time, this software provides an incredibly efficient workflow to electronically generate customer FAI reports.


Naturally, the FAI solution starts with DISCUS Desktop, but it can be further configured to meet the specific needs of your business.

For example, if you are providing reports to a customer’s web-based FAI quality management system, you may be interested in adding DISCUS Results to enable your team to enter the mearsured values for verification. If you have customers that share CAD 3D models, you may be interested in adding the DISCUS 3D Data Management module to maximize your FAI productivity. The use of DISCUS for FAI has reduced the time required for the FAI process by as much as 50%.

The most common solutions for FAI reports consist of selected DISCUS modules packaged into bundles:

  • 2D FAI Suite: DISCUS Desktop with DISCUS OCR and DISCUS Results add-ons.
  • 3D FAI Suite: DISCUS Desktop with DISCUS 3D add-ons.

You can learn more about the specific DISCUS modules on our products page, and you can review the pricing for the discounted bundles on our pricing page.

Experts in Multiple Industries

DISCUS FAI software is used within many important industries to consistently support high quality on the production line, including:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Medical
  • Military

In each of these industries, the accuracy and consistency of parts are absolutely crucial. The FAI process must be of similarly high quality. That’s why leading companies in these fields trust DISCUS to empower a reliable, effective, and efficient workflow for each and every part that must pass through inspection.

Contact DISCUS

With the importance of FAI software and the advantages that you get from utilizing DISCUS, why not test out a trial version today? We have years of experience helping close to 2,500 customers achieve FAI success.

More questions? Contact us today!