quality assurance system (QAS) defines and establishes an
organization's quality policy and objectives. It also allows an
organization to document and implement the procedures needed to attain
these goals. A properly implemented QAS ensures that procedures are
carried out consistently, that problems can be identified and
resolved, and that the organization can continuously review and
improve its procedures, products and services. It is a mechanism for
maintaining and improving the quality of products or services so that
they consistently meet or exceed the organization's implied or stated
needs and fulfill their quality objectives.
In a safety
management system, these elements are applied to an understanding of
the human and organizational issues that can impact safety. In the
same way that a QAS measures quality and monitors compliance, the same
methods are used to measure safety within the organization. In the SMS
context, this means quality assurance of the safety management system,
which in effect includes the entire operation.
effective quality assurance system should encompass the following
designed and documented procedures for product and process control
and testing methods
of equipment including calibration and measurement
of corrective and preventive action(s), and
The use of
appropriate statistical analysis, when required.
assurance is based on the principle of the continuous improvement
cycle. In much the same way that SMS facilitates continuous
improvements in safety, quality assurance ensures process control and
regulatory compliance through constant verification and upgrading of
the system. These objectives are achieved through the application of
similar tools: internal and independent audits, strict document
controls and on-going monitoring of corrective actions.
The use of
audit functions, to verify compliance and standardization, is an
integral part of the quality assurance system. An initial audit,
covering all technical activities, should be conducted, followed by a
recurring cycle of further internal audits. Detailed records of audit
findings, including issues of compliance and non-compliance,
corrective actions and follow-up inspections should be kept. The
results of the audit should be communicated throughout the company.
the size of the organization, these functions may be performed by
individuals within the company or assigned to external agents.
Wherever practical, having regard to the size of the organization,
these functions should be undertaken by persons who are not
responsible for, and have not been involved in, the certification or
performance of the tasks and functions being audited. In this way, the
quality assurance function system remains neutral and is independent
from the operational aspects of the organization.
checklists should be employed to identify all of the technical
functions controlled by the MPM, the MCM or the COM. These should be
sufficiently detailed to ensure that all of the technical functions
performed by the organization are covered. Accordingly, the extent and
complexity of these checklists will vary from company to company.
In the case of
a quality audit on a company's safety management system, the
checklist, should provide a detailed account of the following areas:
monitoring of all systems and the application of corrective actions
are functions of the quality assurance system. Continuous improvement
can only occur when the organization displays constant vigilance
regarding the effectiveness of its technical operations and its
corrective actions. Indeed, without on-going monitoring of corrective
actions, there is no way of telling whether the problem has been
corrected and the safety objective met. Similarly, there is no way of
measuring if a system is fulfilling its purpose with maximum
There are many
existing quality assurance standards. The most appropriate system
depends on the size and complexity of the organization and will be
tailored to meet these requirements. ISO 9000, a series of
international standards developed by quality experts from around the
world, is one example. ISO 9000 is for use by companies that either
want to implement their own in-house quality systems or to ensure that
suppliers have appropriate quality systems in place. The standards
were developed under the auspices of the International Organization
for Standardization (ISO).
series, ISO 9000:2000, was developed to assist all types and size of
organization, to implement and operate effective quality management
systems. ISO standards are intended to be generic and not specific to
any product or industry. They are intended to document the elements
required for an effective quality system, however, they do not specify
the technology requirements to be utilized. ISO 9000:2000 works on the
principal that, to successfully operate an organization, it is
necessary to direct and control it in a systematic and transparent
manner. The objective is to continually improve performance whilst
addressing the needs of all interested parties.
9000:2000 standards are composed of a set of eight quality management
principles that contribute to improved performance:
Focus Understanding what the customer wants and needs. In aviation
some of these requirements are a safe, reasonably priced flight,
that departs on time.
Leaders set the goals and purpose of the organization. They should
establish and maintain the internal environment in which the
individual becomes fully involved in attaining the organization's
of people Safety is everyone's responsibility. It is incumbent on
all employees therefore to involve themselves and utilize their
abilities for the organization's benefit.
Approach A managed approach is applied to activities and related
Approach to Management Identifying, understanding and managing
interconnected processes as a system contributes to the
organization's effectiveness and efficiency in achieving its
Improvement Continual improvement of the organization's overall
performance should be a fixed objective of the organization.
Approach to Decision Making Decisions are made utilizing available
information and current data.
Beneficial Supplier Relations Given that an organization and its
suppliers are interdependent, a mutually beneficial relationship
enhances the ability of both to create value.
several steps and organization must take to ensure a successful
implementation of ISO standards. The organization must clearly
understand what it hopes to achieve and what the expectations of the
stakeholders are. Furthermore, it must identify the gap between where
it is now and where it hopes to be in the future. A plan must be
developed to close these gaps and it must be monitored to ensure
effectiveness. This consists of both internal and external audits.