If you recall, I requested to join the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG), that plucky group of bootstrappers that author the AS9100 series of standards. My argument was that they disallow participation by industry stakeholders and retain authority only for the aerospace companies they arbitrarily deem “primes,” while denying membership to major manufacturers like SpaceX as well as the thousands of AS9100 user organizations. Specifically, I asked to join the “Americas Aerospace Quality Standards Committee” (AAQSC), and was rejected. The rejection was a foregone conclusion, since anyone applying can’t actually comply with the application requirements: they demand you understand and agree to the “AAQSC Charter and committee rules.” but these rules aren’t published anywhere, and when asked to produce them, no one on AAQSC could find a copy.

My rejection was provided by Elizabeth Ray of Rockwell Collins, who rationalized the decision  by saying I would be violating the rules because my application was a “request to act as an outside advocate to an unidentified group versus as an individual participant.” The nearly paranoid explanation was not only inexplicable — I clearly indicated I intended to represent AS9100 users who are not an “unidentified group” but the very clearly identified group of AS9100 users, each of which is clearly registered in OASIS — but also cited an odd requirement that members not represent companies, but remain individuals.

Then, as you may recall, even though I hadn’t re-applied, some months later the AAQSC rejected me a second time, just to make sure I got the message. This time, Ms. Ray explained:

The SAE Aerospace Council Organization and Operating Procedures also require that participating members function as individuals and not as agents or representatives of any organization or group with which they may be associated.

She was apparently quoting SAE Technical Standards Board – Governance Policy clause, if you’re interested.

So we have established that the rules require that IAQG participants act as individuals and not representatives of their employer companies. The fact that Ray wrote the email from her Rockwell Collins email address was ironic fun, but the bigger issue is that the IAQG actively ignores this rule on a daily basis, constantly identifying its key members by their employer (Boeing, Lockheed, Rockwell, etc.) on official documents, PowerPoint presentations and guidance publications. All of them use their employers’ email addresses, as Ray did. So it defied both logic and reality.

So it is certainly a curious thing to see the 2017 IAQG Strategic Plan indicate the exact opposite of the official policy they insisted was so important, that they deny people access to membership on its basis. That Strategic Plan (which you can read here) says:

IAQG members are companies, not individuals creating a unique strategic challenge in maintaining resource continuity and prioritization of major projects aligned with company business priorities. Nevertheless, the IAQG has successfully created and managed a robust, recognized and valued industry QMS certification with a supporting Online Aerospace Supplier Information System (OASIS) database to manage the certification data. [Emphasis added.]

So I wrote to the author of the plan, Judy Lasley of Rolls Royce (her name appeared in the PDF metadata), and asked for a clarification. That email was sent back in early July, so we’re approaching three months and Ms. Lasley hasn’t seen fit to reply. I will assume she has no intention of doing so, but I also see the Plan wasn’t updated to remove the language, so the IAQG appears content to allow this contradiction to stand. Meaning: when the IAQG wants to create publicity documents like the Strategic Plan, it will insist that members are companies, not individuals; when it wants to dream up rationales for denying membership to stakeholders, it will insist that members are individuals, not companies. Got it?

As I will be discussing soon, the constant drumbeat by IAQG that OASIS is the tool they use is also frustrating, since I now have two feedback requests entered into OASIS, and both have been ignored, one of them for an entire month. Both are important issues impacting on many clients and all the AS9100 CBs, and while I don’t expect a timely response, it appears that neither issue was ever actually opened by anyone at IAQG since they remain unassigned to anyone to review. I’ve reached out to the IAQG leadership on this, via email, so we will see what happens.

What is clear, however, is that both the rules and OASIS exist as strings on the AS9100 end user puppet, things the IAQG leadership can fiddle with to manipulate their customers at will, at times using them one way to sell standards, and then reversing the movements when they want to restrict access to authority. So the issue becomes one of law, but good luck with that, since IAQG holds itself to Belgian law which everyone knows is made of rich cream cheese and a flaky crust. Or something.

I’ll update if I hear anything.

    About Christopher Paris

    Christopher Paris is the founder and VP Operations of Oxebridge. He has over 25 years' experience implementing ISO 9001 and AS9100 systems, and is a vocal advocate for the development and use of standards from the point of view of actual users. He is the author of Surviving ISO 9001:2015. He reviews wines for the irreverent wine blog, Winepisser.