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ISO and the Aviation Industry

ISO and the Aviation Industry: A Case Study in What the ISO Standards are Worth

In a Nutshell:

ISO certification is becoming more popular in the aviation community. ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization and is a non-governmental organization comprised of the national standards bodies of 149 countries from all regions of the world. The 9000 family of certification covers quality management standards and the 14000 family covers environmental management standards.

Last year FlightWorks, a charter and aircraft management company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia earned ISO 9001:2000 certification through an independent auditing firm, Vehicle Certification Agency, North America (VCA), located in Northville, Michigan. Aviation Maintenance visited with FlightWorks to learn more about the ISO certification process and the results of implementing and achieving the certification.


As outlined in my best-selling ISO book in the 1990s, ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies (ISO member bodies). The work of preparing International Standards is normally carried out through ISO technical committees. Each member body interested in a subject for which a technical committee has been established has the right to be represented on that committee. International organizations, governmental and non-governmental, in liaison with ISO, also take part in the work. Note: ISO collaborates closely with various agencies and technical committees, such as the International Electro-technical Commission (IEC) on all matters of electro-technical standardization.

Draft International Standards adopted by the technical committees are circulated to the member bodies for approval before their acceptance as International Standards by the ISO Council. They are approved in accordance with ISO procedures requiring at least 75 % approval by the member bodies voting. International Standard ISO 5843-5 was prepared by Technical Committee ISO/TC 20, Aircraft and space vehicles.

Established in 1947, ISO/TC 20 is one of the most prolific ISO technical committees in international standardization. With nearly 600 published standards developed under the broad umbrella of the committee and its subcommittees, ISO/TC 20 maintains a significant, relevant presence in the aerospace industry. ISO/TC 20 is a Technical Committee (TC) of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO),  responsible for developing and maintaining standards for aircraft and space vehicles. Specifically, the committee covers the standardization of materials, components and equipment for construction and operation of aircraft and space vehicles, as well as equipment used in the servicing and maintenance of these vehicles. ISO/TC 20 works to ensure that internationally accepted standards exist for the design, construction, test and evaluation, operation, air traffic management, maintenance, and disposal of components, equipment and systems of aircraft and space vehicles, including issues related to safety, reliability and the environment. And as required, produce, maintain and assure these standards are produced cost effectively and correspond to users’ and market needs and to support the technical projects of the sector.

ISO/TC 20 provides a forum for the work of ten dynamic subcommittees ¹:

  • ISO/TC 20/SC 1, Aerospace electrical requirements
  • ISO/TC 20/SC 4, Aerospace fastener systems
  • ISO/TC 20/SC 6, Standard atmosphere
  • ISO/TC 20/SC 8, Aerospace terminology
  • ISO/TC 20/SC 9, Air cargo and ground equipment
  • ISO/TC 20/SC 10, Aerospace fluid systems and components
  • ISO/TC 20/SC 13, Space data and information transfer systems
  • ISO/TC 20/SC 14, Space systems and operations
  • ISO/TC 20/SC16, Unmanned aircraft systems
  • ISO/TC 20/SC17, Airport infrastructure
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¹ Also included in this discussion is the International Standard ISO 5843-5, that was prepared by Technical Committee ISO/TC 20, Aircraft and space vehicles. It states that ISO 5843 will consist of the following parts, under the general title Aerospace — List of equivalent terms. ISO 5843 establishes a list of equivalent terms used in the field of aerospace construction. This part of ISO 5843 gives those terms relating to environmental and operating conditions for aircraft equipment. in addition to terms used in the three official ISO languages (English, French and Russian), this part of ISO 5843 gives the equivalent terms in the German language; these are published under the responsibility of the member body for Germany, F.R. (DIN). However, only the terms given in the official languages can be considered as ISO terms: Part 1: Aerospace electrical equipment; Part 2 : Aerospace rivets; Part 3 : Aerospace bolts and nuts; Part 4: Flight dynamics; Part 5: Environmental and operating conditions for aircraft equipment; Part 6: Standard atmosphere; Part 7: Aircraft cargo; Part 8: Aircraft reliability; Part 9 : Aircraft; Part 10: Aircraft structure.