AS9102 FAIR: The What & Why

Quality assurance and inspection have always been key elements of the aerospace and defense manufacturing production process. However, as product parts become more intricate and customer expectations escalate, it’s especially important to prove that you’ve taken all the right steps.

This is part of what’s achieved by a First Article Inspection Report (FAIR) and, more specifically, AS9102 FAIR. Here’s what to know about this inspection report and what it means for product accountability, quality assurance and more.

AS9102 FAIR Process: The Basics

First Article Inspection, sometimes called FAI or the AS9100 quality management system, is a topic of its own. FAI authenticates every step of the manufacturing and production process, from planning to verification, and culminates in a FAIR proving that all parts meet the customer’s requirements.

AS9102 FAIR is a standard maintained by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE); its goal is to clarify and support FAI efforts and reporting, helping both the supplier and the customer. According to the SAE, this standard seeks to:

  • Emphasize the value of the FAI process.
  • Separate and enhance planning and evaluation activities.
  • Define Digital Product Definition (DPD) and its relevance to FAI processes.

When completed properly and in full, an AS9102 FAIR can help reduce costs and risks, improve customer satisfaction, indicate any issues with non-conformance and more. To ensure these outcomes, every FAIR must fulfill certain requirements — not just to create reliable inspection results, but to improve design characteristic accountability across the entire production run.

First Article Inspection and AS9102 in Detail

Although FAI and AS9102 processes can quickly become second nature, breaking down the foundational information that makes this process possible is helpful. Here’s a closer look at the various moving parts:

AS9102 Revisions

The SAE website maintains three listings for AS9102 FAIR:

  • AS9102.
  • AS9102A or AS9102 Rev A.
  • AS9102B AS9102 Rev B.

The first two are historical; the last is the most up-to-date version of the standard. The main difference between AS9102 Rev A and Rev B is that the latter lays the groundwork for managing DPD design requirements, including 3D drawing or model information. 

AS9102 Process

The AS9102 FAIR process begins when an aerospace supplier or manufacturer selects parts to test. The team inspects every detail before, during and after production, documenting results along the way. This often includes comparisons between actual parts and the drawing or specification document intended to characterize them. When the inspection results are ready, everything is compiled into a finalized First Article Inspection Report, which includes all appropriate AS9102 forms. This report can be shared with and verified by the customer.

AS9102 Forms

The AS9102 FAIR process requires three forms:

  • Form 1: Part Number Accountability — This form identifies the part or parts that the FAI and resulting report will focus on.
  • Form 2: Product Accountability — This form accounts for material and process specifications as well as testing and design requirements.
  • Form 3: Characteristic Accountability — This form includes dimensions, tolerances and more, all recorded in an inspection drawing or model. Ballooning software helps create “inspection balloons” that call out and categorize relevant drawing data. Each balloon has a number corresponding to a listing on this form.

AS9102 Timing

Despite the name, a First Article Inspection Report isn’t necessarily the “first” step in any production run or process. Instead, FAIs and AS9102 FAIRs can be completed:

  • On the first instance of a particular production run.
  • After any significant change in design, materials, process or supplier.
  • If two or more years have passed since the last production run.

AS9102 FAIR Process: Frequently Asked Questions

Ready to learn more about the AS9102 FAIR process? Review answers to these common questions:

Is AS9102 a Requirement?

Unlike the First Article Inspection process itself, AS9102 isn’t mandated in the aerospace or defense industries. It doesn’t need certification — but if you do create an AS9102 FAIR, it must meet certain requirements to be accurate and accessible.

What’s the Difference Between AS9100 and AS9102?

AS9100 is a quality management system. It’s governed by the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) and describes the process for creating a First Article Inspection Report. 

AS9102 is part of the AS9100 quality management system. This standard helps define article inspection requirements and enables product accountability across manufacturing workflows. AS9102 documentation becomes part of a FAIR, reducing the risk of non-conformance and improving various parts of the production process. However, AS9102 comes with its own requirements that may extend inspection timelines. 

What’s the Difference Between ISO 9001 and AS9100?

AS9100 is unique to the aerospace and defense industries. ISO 9001 similarly helps manage quality and visibility, but this system can be utilized and adapted by a wider range of industries; because of this generalization, it may be less comprehensive.

How Do You Meet AS9102 Article Inspection Requirements?

Multiple steps are involved in populating AS9102 forms and integrating this data into complete FAIRs. This includes:

  • Gathering drawings and documentation.
  • Creating article inspection plans.  
  • Following standard production processes and capturing relevant data.
  • Putting data in the correct forms.

DISCUS Excel Validator helps you do all this and more, compiling, consolidating and organizing your product and part information to fulfill FAI requirements. The software also helps manage risk by flagging inconsistencies and preventing export until data points match across all documentation. DISCUS Desktop also helps check these boxes, reducing the turnaround time of AS9102 requirements by up to 80%. 

Make Quality Assurance Simple

A sound First Article Inspection Report process is a requirement for any supplier or manufacturer in the aerospace industry. AS9102 FAIR requirements aren’t technically mandated, but they are widely adopted — which means customers have come to expect the clarity, accountability and visibility provided by these documents.

To simplify your FAI process, create reliable AS9102 FAIRs and support the overall manufacturing workflow, you need software that makes it happen. DISCUS helps compile your most important data and ballooned notes all in one platform.

Want to learn more? Contact us today to start making quality assurance simple.