Walking the Line an Insight into EASA Quality Systems

Quality 2013 03 01 20A Quality System is Quality Control (QC) plus Quality Assurance (QA)

– QC being the delivery of the process and procedures required to demonstrate compliance and QA being the delivery of the organisational product that complies with all regulatory and company requirements. This should be the lifeblood of any organisation, integrated into every facet of the company. When this is the case, organisations can excel in the delivery of the product or service and are well placed to react quickly and efficiently to any identified shortfall. In addition, an effective Quality System that follows the QC/QA 80/20 rule can deliver significant savings by reducing waste and inefficiencies.

However, many organisations develop what could be considered a bolt on, rather than an integrated solution, and are driven primarily by the need to satisfy the regulator that a compliant Quality System is implemented. This means they miss the opportunity to benefit from the savings which arise from a truly effective Quality System. Even though such a bolt on arrangement often complies with the minimum of regulatory requirements, it usually falls far short of a system that is fully supportive of, and provides tangible benefits for, the organisation.


Who is responsible for quality in an organisation? An answer that is often given is the Quality Manager. This is partially true, but is not correct – the Quality Manager is responsible for Quality Assurance but should not be responsible for Quality Control. There are actually two correct answers. Legally, the correct answer is the Accountable Manager, who signs a statement to the eff ect that he or she accepts responsibility for the organisation complying with not just quality, but also all safety requirements. the other answer is ‘we all are’, which means everyone within the organisation has a shared responsibility to ensure delivery of a quality product. This is an important message that must be communicated to the workforce in a meaningful and effective way – a challenge that also highlights the need for effective communication.

The Accountable Manager position is a serious and demanding role, and it is important that there is a strong and effective team of competent and knowledgeable post holders to back up quality assurance and safety management to ensure that quality and safety are, or become, fundamental attributes within the organisation. Safety is playing an increasingly important role and Safety Management Systems (SMS) are particularly important in an effective organisation. this is especially relevant with the need to demonstrate compliance with ICAO annex 6 Safety Management System requirements, which have become effective since January 2009.

For the delivery of an effective Quality and Safety Management System, the more information regarding the organisational compliance status that is available, the more focused the decision making of those involved will be. However, compliance management becomes difficult without the availability of an electronic oversight system, as a huge amount of documentation needs to be managed. this includes: policies procedures and manuals, both internal and external; showing the status of conformity ona continuous basis; planning, scheduling and recording the performance of audits; developing an approved database of accepted suppliers, allowing for a range of audit options from postal audit to continuing oversight; and the engraftation of corrective actions (discrepancies) with an automatic follow up process for outstanding discrepancies.

Where does the Quality Manager fit into this story? They are responsible for the delivery of an effective QA system. Interestingly, there have been a great deal of regulatory requirements written on the responsibilities of the Quality Manager, and far fewer regarding the responsibilities of the post holders to deliver effective quality control.

Effective system

To deliver an effective quality system requires a fundamental understanding and a recognition of the differences between QA, QC and Safety Management, and someone who is responsible for delivering the various elements. The key to QC success is to set and manage the company standards, making regulatory compliance an easier goal to achieve.

There are three steps to achieve this. The first is the management of the documentation to ensure the procedures are necessary, effective and efficient; the second, but just as important, is the understanding of these procedures by the workforce to include, where necessary, appropriate training; and the third is the management of competencies to ensure the staff are qualified, capable and, indeed, motivated to deliver the process required in an effective way. Unless the organisation has effective control of these elements, it is in effect fighting with one arm behind its back. It should also be accepted that to promote effective QC, the process and procedures must belong to the post holder or line manager, even though the Accountable Manager holds ultimate responsibility. This retains the independence of the audit, but, more importantly, ownership of the procedure is an intrinsic element of delivering effective quality control.

The process is overseen by, and is usually delivered through, company controlled documentation manuals, forms and procedures, such as Ops Man Gen Part A, Maintenance Organisation Exposition and Continuing Airworthiness Maintenance Exposition. The role of QA is two-fold. As described, it is to demonstrate that the organisation complies with all regulatory requirements. However, there is a more fundamental role: to share with the post holders and the Accountable Manager the deviations within the system from the company processes and procedures, as well as discrepancies as a result of non-conformity with regulatory requirements.

Some people believe that up to 20% of profit is lost by airlines due to wastage and inefficient procedures. Identifying such shortfalls may not automatically be within the remit of the QA system because it may not necessarily fall foul of any company or regulatory requirements. So the company has to have mechanisms to bring together the QC process, the safety management process and to compare them with wastage, which could be late departures, ground damage, over fuelling or inefficient routeing. Considering that an effective Quality System consists of 80% QC and 20% QA, it is apparent that effective QC is an essential part of a successful Total Quality System (TQS).

Sofema Aviation Services offers a range of EASA compliant vocational and regulatory training. For any comments or questions please email office@sassofia.com or visit www.sassofia.com