Where’s the Risk in the Aviation, Space, and Defense Industry? – Lawyer Monthly Magazine

Where’s the Risk in the Aviation, Space, and Defense Industry? – Lawyer Monthly Magazine

The aerospace industry is an ever-evolving field thanks to recent and upcoming advancements in technology.  How has this impacted compliance and management?

While technology is moving along at a very fast pace, regulatory design standards struggle to keep up with the industry.  As a result, aerospace organisations are having to self-define what ‘good’ looks like and convince regulators that their designs, production and servicing controls are adequate to meet existing regulations and requirements.  With the growing trend of regulators delegating more self-certification authority to ‘certificate holders’, companies are accruing not only authority but also increased responsibility and liability.  Such responsibility includes not only meeting regulatory requirements, but also contractual and self-imposed quality requirements.  Simply relying on a certificate on the wall as evidence of compliance does not cut it anymore.  Organisational management has defined responsibility for compliance to both stated and unstated requirements.

What are the common contractual obligations regarding management responsibility in this field?

Regardless of the applicable national regulatory scheme, nearly all certificated aerospace organisations are required to have a quality management system in place that not only assure design, product, and/or service output, but also mandates processes of capable management oversight that are proactive.  The most common quality management standards applied in the aerospace industry are AS/EN9100 and AS/EN9110.  These standards are in addition to the regulatory requirements applied to the organisation, and when incorporated as part of the organisation’s conditions for regulatory approval, they carry the same authority as said regulatory requirements.  When management does not take into account nor understand the requirements of these standards, a broad minefield of potential liability is created.

From your experience, what regulatory and contractual obligations are commonly overlooked?

The 9100 and 9110 quality management standards require organisations to engage in documented proactive processes that are aimed at preventing non-compliance.  However, these are