The aerospace industry is constantly evolving, requiring periodic revisions of standards to ensure the highest level of safety, quality, and reliability. AS6081, the standard for counterfeit electronic parts avoidance in the aerospace and defense industries, has recently undergone significant updates.
The original release in 2012, AS6081:2012, served as a critical guideline to combat the growing threat of counterfeit electronic components. However, as the industry evolved and new challenges emerged, the need for an updated version became evident. To address evolving challenges and ensure continued effectiveness, AS6081 underwent an update and was released as AS6081A on April 21, 2023, introducing several changes and improvements aimed at strengthening supply chain integrity and enhancing counterfeit detection methods.
Below are the areas that have been affected by the update.
The new revision of the AS6081 standard has broadened its application to include more types of organizations involved in procuring and distributing electronic components. It now distinguishes between independent distributors and brokers while also covering organizations that do not fit into these categories. The aim is to be more inclusive and encompass “grey area” organizations that were previously excluded.
This will remove the requirement for the standard’s provisions to be invoked through contractual language. This is a significant change because it alters how the standard’s requirements apply in transactions involving electrical, electronic, and electromechanical (EEE) parts between an organization and its customer.
The change was made to eliminate confusion among customers who mistakenly believed that certified organizations automatically conducted testing for all products in every transaction.
Request for Quotation Review:
Table 1-Lot Sampling Plan has been removed, which previously defined testing protocols using alpha character levels A through G. Instead, the standard now refers to AS6171, first published in 2016 and revised in 2018, allowing organizations to determine the relevant testing for EEE parts in agreement with the customer. This change avoids pre-determined, minimum testing requirements and provides a more flexible approach.
The intention is to provide a less rigid approach to testing requirements and reduce customer confusion. The previous revision’s Table 1 did not consider that certain types of EEE parts might not require all the listed tests, causing discrepancies when testing deviated from the table.
The new revision forbids the practice of pre-screening, where parts with existing anomalies are removed from a homogeneous lot prior to conducting documented tests.
Contract Review, Agreement, and Execution:
AS6081A no longer specifies a time limit for notifying the customer when requirements cannot be met. The requirements regarding the disclosure of the source of supply have been eliminated and replaced by the organization’s obligation to provide a product guarantee that the EEE parts are unused and authentic.
There is also no longer a requirement to issue a revised written quotation to the customer if the source of supply changes at any time.
Supplier Approval and Source Selection:
In AS6081A, Appendix A offers more extensive guidance by providing examples of supplier assessment scoring, supplier classification, and debarred company listings. This additional information helps organizations in assessing suppliers and making informed decisions during the processes of supplier approval and source selection.
Purchase Order Requirements:
The revision now requires the customer’s requirements to be communicated to suppliers using “appropriate contract mechanisms,” rather than specifically referring to “purchasing contracts” or “purchase orders.” This change acknowledges the evolving nature of business-to-business transactions that have taken place since the standard was initially published over a decade ago.
Supply Chain Traceability:
The retention period for documented information has been extended from 5 to 10 years. This extension provides added benefits to end users, particularly when they do not use the parts immediately or in situations involving prolonged litigation where counterfeit parts are identified. The longer retention period ensures that crucial information remains accessible and can support necessary actions in such scenarios.
Verification of Purchased Product:
The direct reference to contacting the Original Component Manufacturer (OCM) for authentication assistance has been removed. Instead, organizations are required to follow customer requirements and their own Quality Management System (QMS) for verification.
When conducting product verification, organizations must reference and include details such as results, sample size, acceptance/rejection criteria, disposition of nonconforming products, and the specific recognized industry standard test or inspection methods used.
When parts are returned by the customer, it is now required to verify that they were originally supplied by the organization. This verification is done by validating the parts against the organization’s traceability records and ensures that the organization can accurately confirm its lineage in the origin of the returned parts.
Control of Suspect Counterfeit and Counterfeit EEE Parts/Assemblies:
There is no longer a requirement to communicate with the supplier to request them to verify the organization’s findings. Instead, the standard provides other steps to be taken after identifying parts as suspect counterfeit or counterfeit. These steps may include destroying the parts or surrendering them to the relevant authorities who have jurisdiction over such matters.
AS6081A introduces more specific and detailed requirements for reporting compared to the previous version. It provides clearer guidelines on the information and documentation that need to be included in the reports.
The release of AS6081A represents a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to combat counterfeit electronic parts within the aerospace industry. By expanding the scope, strengthening risk assessment, improving reporting requirements, emphasizing supply chain traceability, updating test methodologies, enhancing training and competence requirements, and considering cybersecurity aspects – the revised standard aims to enhance the industry’s ability to detect, avoid, mitigate, and report counterfeit parts effectively.
As organizations implement the updated guidelines, they contribute to safer and more reliable aerospace systems, safeguarding the industry’s reputation and ensuring the well-being of end-users.