December 2004/January 2005 
Volume 03, Issue 8 
Commercial Airplanes

Cooperation is essential

Aerospace industry program Nadcap aids Boeing's quality assurance plans


Safety and quality. In the world of airplane manufacturing, these words represent the essence of what customers demand—and the premise behind Boeing products.

This is why Commercial Airplanes and Integrated Defense Systems have included Nadcap—an industry-managed, not-for-profit program—as part of a joint Boeing strategy for the approval and oversight of companies that perform special processing of Boeing's products. This oversight helps ensure quality and allows Boeing to focus on its primary role as a large-scale systems integrator.

Nadcap consists of representatives from several aerospace companies. "We work together to increase the value for our industry as a whole," said Sandy Postel, Commercial Airplanes vice president of Quality in Renton, Wash., and member of the Performance Review Institute board of directors that oversees Nadcap. "In matters concerning safety and quality, industry cooperation is essential."

Operating since 1988, Nadcap is the leading worldwide cooperative program of major companies designed to manage a cost-effective, consensus approach to special processes and products and to provide continuous improvement. In an industry where supply chains are worldwide, Nadcap ensures quality standards are consistent—not only for Boeing, but for the entire aerospace industry. Nadcap assesses and accredits most of Boeing's 1,400 special processors.

Arne Logan, Commercial Airplanes' process team leader in Everett, Wash., said the purpose of Nadcap accreditation is to "increase quality" and "eliminate escapes" that become extremely costly to correct once they've slipped undetected into the supply chain.

"Our participation in Nadcap is the right strategy for Boeing," Logan said. Participation in the program is in Boeing's best interest in order to improve product quality and contribute value to the industry, he said.

"The industry cooperation in Nadcap is outstanding," Logan said. "When we get together to discuss issues, it's never someone saying 'my company did this' or 'your company did that.'"

Areas in which Boeing processors and some suppliers must obtain Nadcap accreditation in the Americas include heat treatment, nondestructive testing and chemical processing. In early 2004, Boeing expanded the requirement to include additional technologies of material testing, welding and shot peening, and most recently, composite manufacturing. Beginning next year, accreditation also will be required in Europe and Asia.

Barb O'Dell, Commercial Airplanes' director of Procurement Quality Assurance in Everett, said that prior to the Nadcap program, there wasn't an industry-sponsored program to standardize the accreditation process.

Processors were audited annually by individual companies, often within days of each other. This resulted in redundant audits adding little value.

"Now we go through Nadcap to accredit processors, which allows Boeing to focus resources on product conformance and processor improvement," O'Dell said. "This method complements and supports Boeing oversight of special processors and provides a more comprehensive technical review of a company's capability to meet requirements."

In the Nadcap process, engineering standards are reviewed by the industry members to develop the audit criterion that serves the industry as a whole. Next, industry members determine auditor qualification criteria, and interview and recommend candidates. The industry members also review and approve corrective action and grant the accreditation.

"As part of Nadcap, Boeing continues to work with the industry to improve quality, reduce total costs and facilitate best practices within a regulated industry," Logan said.


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