AS9100 vs ISO 9001 – What’s the Difference?

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They’re two of the most widely recognized quality management certifications, but what are the differences between them when it comes to AS9100 vs ISO 9001?

These standards can help to increase confidence in your products. They’re developed by industry experts and outline the specifications for implementing a quality management system.

But before setting out on an implementation project, you need to understand the difference between the two standards.

Find out everything you need to know in our comprehensive guide to AS9100 vs ISO 9001.

AS9100 vs ISO 9100 guide - aerospace plane frame inspection

AS9100 vs ISO 9001: An Overview

Any discussion about quality management begins with ISO 9001.

It’s the most popular management systems standard in the world, providing a framework for implementing a Quality Management System (QMS). More than one million organizations worldwide have been certified to the standard, bringing their practices in line with globally recognized requirements.

ISO 9001 was developed by the International Organization for Standardization, an independent, non-governmental body. The standard was created by representatives from national standards bodies, with support from subject matter experts, consumer groups, and academic institutions.

The specifications of ISO 9001 contain a flexible set of requirements that can be tailored to your needs. Its framework can be used by organizations of all sizes and in all sectors.

By contrast, AS9100 is a quality management standard designed specifically for the AS&D (Aviation, Space, and Defense) industry. It was developed by the aerospace division of SAE International and the IAQG (International Aerospace Quality Group), using ISO 9001 as its basis. The standard includes additional requirements that help address risks specific to the AS&D sector.

Although AS9100 is industry-specific and ISO 9001 isn’t, the standards perform the same purpose by providing a framework to help you:

  • Improve quality – the specifications ensure that products and services are safe, reliable, and consistent.
  • Drive efficiency – the management system provides a single location to manage quality across the organization.
  • Reduce costs – a smoother workflow can help reduce waste and save money.
  • Strengthen trust – stakeholders can be confident that you’re committed to providing quality goods and services.
  • Gain a competitive advantage – organizations can use their certification to stand out among their competitors and potentially win new business.

AS9100 certification provides the framework to help you comply with the applicable regulatory requirements of the AS&D and grants your organization inclusion in the Online Aerospace Supplier Information System. This is an online database run by the IAQG, which aerospace firms can browse to find suppliers.

AS9100 vs ISO 9100 guide - plane in hanger undergoing maintenance inspection

AS9100 vs ISO 9001: Key Differences

When comparing AS9100 and ISO 9001, they both share the basic ISO 9001 requirements.

The AS9100 standard incorporates all the requirements of ISO 9001 plus the requirements for AS&D Space and Defense organizations. AS9100 also includes enhanced requirements for the design of complex systems, advanced requirements for production operations and enhanced requirements for production operations.

It is important to understand that the requirements specified in the ISO 9001 and AS 9100 standards are complementary (not an alternative) to the customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. If there is a conflict between the requirements of the ISO 9001 or AS9100 standards and customer or applicable statutory or regulatory requirements, the latter shall take precedence.

Industry Focus

The most significant difference between the standards is that organizations in any industry can use ISO 9001, whereas AS9100 is specifically designed for the aerospace sector. This includes those that provide aircraft equipment, assemblies, subassemblies, components and accessories. For organizations providing maintenance repair and overhaul, the AS9110 standard applies.


ISO 9001 refers to its central framework as a QMS (Quality Management System), and AS9100 uses the term AQMS (Aerospace Quality Management System). It’s a minor difference, but it is important to note if you want your management system documentation to align with AS9100.

Compliance Requirements

AS9100 contains all of the compliance requirements within ISO 9001 and additional ones that address issues specific to the aerospace industry.

These further requirements are mainly found in the standard’s Product Realization and Measurement, Analysis and Improvement sections. These sections emphasize product safety due to the high stakes in the aerospace industry and the potentially fatal consequences of unreliable and/or counterfeit products.

Some of the topics it covers are:

  • Counterfeit part management
  • Risk management
  • Design and development
  • Ethical behavior

Documentation Requirements

AS9100 is more prescriptive in its documentation requirements. As well as the policies and processes that must be produced as part of ISO 9001 compliance, organizations must address issues such as product traceability, configuration management, and supplier control.

Regulatory Requirements

AS9100 was developed to ensure that the US aerospace industry complies with the stringent regulatory requirements imposed by NASA, the Department of Defense, and the Federal Aviation Industry.

Why Choose ISO 9001?

ISO 9001 is the global benchmark for quality management. You should choose this framework if you’re looking for ways to improve the safety, reliability, and consistency of the products and services produced or delivered by your organization.

It’s ideal for organizations in a range of sectors, from manufacturing and construction to healthcare and hospitality. Certifying to the standard can help you generate new business, improve performance, drive efficiency, reduce costs, and strengthen your relationship with stakeholders.

Learn more with our ISO 9001 Certification Checklist.

Why Choose AS9100?

AS9100 is an internationally recognized standard for quality management within the aerospace industry. If your organization manufactures aircraft equipment, components, assemblies, subassemblies or provides services to the AS&D industry, this standard offers specific guidance to support your operations. There are also international standards for organizations providing aviation maintenance (AS9110), and for distributors of aerospace products (AS9120).

Although you’re not legally required to implement AS9100 if you operate in the AS&D sector, almost every client will demand certification. It demonstrates that you have the skills and competencies to address the risks specific to the industry. As such, it’s worth making the extra effort to implement AS9100 rather than relying on ISO 9001.

Want to know more? Read our guide on why you should certify to AS9100.

AS9100 vs ISO 9100 guide - aerospace engineer working on jet engine

ISO 9001 vs AS9100: Certification Requirements

As with most management system standards, the certification process for ISO 9001 and AS9100 involves a multi-stage assessment. A third-party auditor reviews your documentation before performing an on-site evaluation of your operations.

The certification process for ISO 9001 can take as little as three months, but the assessment is far more rigorous for AS9100 due to the high risks involved in producing or supplying aerospace parts.

Want to learn more? Read our guide on the ISO 9001 Certification Requirements

Ready to begin your AS9100 certification project? Orion Registrar’s expert auditors can help you with our certification services.

Start your AS9100 certification journey today with Orion.

Written by

Julian Russell

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