First article inspection
||This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (November 2013)|
First Article Inspection is one of the primary methods for the "inspection and testing of vendor components." The testing of a pre-production sample is considered essential in the process of approving an order or contract; the first article inspection should determine if the product meets acceptance requirements and quality control requirements. Customers who perform such inspections are recommended to identify this in the contract, and to use specific forms to document the results.
AS9102 is the Aerospace Standard for First Article Inspection Requirements. First Article Inspection Report (FAIR) can be documented on Forms 1 (Part Number Accountability), 2 (Product Accountability), and 3 (Characteristic Accountability, Verification and Compatibility Evaluation).
The purpose of the First Article Inspection is to give objective evidence that all engineering, design and specification requirements are correctly understood, accounted for, verified, and recorded. The purpose of this standard is to provide a consistent documentation requirement for aerospace components FAI.
FIRST ARTICLE INSPECTION (FAI): A complete, independent, and documented physical and functional inspection process to verify that prescribed production methods have produced an acceptable item as specified by engineering drawings, planning, purchase order, engineering specifications, and/or other applicable design documents.
FIRST ARTICLE INSPECTION REPORT (FAIR): The forms and package of documentation for a part number or assembly, including FAI results, as per this Standard.
In general this is the aerospace equivalent of the automotive PPAP, Production Part Approval Process. PPAP requires larger quantity of components than would be typically manufactured for aircraft components.
Enhanced First Article Inspections
With the use of modern computers in the manufacturing environment, First Article Inspections are no longer being used with the traditional three form layout on paper but instead recorded digitally and stored on servers for easy access and organization. Recording the first article digitally eliminates errors with the help of software that keeps tracks of the FAIs and generate reports (FAIR) immediately after successful completion of an FAI.
Many large aerospace companies including Bombardier Aerospace, and Spirit AeroSystems have recently switched to enhanced first article inspections in order to keep track of the numerous first articles received by different companies within the company's supply chain. Suppliers to these companies, including Machine Shops, are also turning to enhanced first article inspections to improve manufacturing productivity and throughput by eliminating the manual process of creating FAIs.
- Cappels, Thomas M. (1999). Financially focused quality. CRC Press. p. 108. ISBN 978-1-57444-248-9. Retrieved 15 March 2010.
- Bowman, Daniel R.; Daniel R. Bowman (1996). Procurement specification guidelines for mass transit vehicle window glazing. Transportation Research Board. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-309-05720-2. Retrieved 15 March 2010.
- Pennella, C. Robert (2006). Managing Contract Quality Requirements. American Society for Quality. pp. 48–49. ISBN 978-0-87389-694-8. Retrieved 15 March 2010.
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