As part of an aerospace quality management system in conformity to AS9100 Rev D the manager of the internal audit program must also audit the leadership. The quality department must also be audited at periodic intervals. To enable impartial and objective audits QMII recommends that organizations train at least 10% of the personnel. Organizations then have a good pool of auditors to draw from in meeting the requirements of the standard and the internal audit program.

When auditing the leadership, the program manager must recognize that this may be intimidating for some and accordingly choose an auditor that can ask the right questions of leadership. When auditing leadership consider the clauses under 4, 5 and 6. The leadership must be well versed in these clauses and their application to the system. Let us look at AS 9100 Rev D clause 5.1.1 and how auditors can assess the leadership for their commitment to the system.

- Taking accountability for the effectiveness of the quality management system: This will be evidenced from other parts of the system as the audit program looks at the overall effectiveness of the system. AS 9100 Rev D internal auditors can also look at the involvement of leadership in management reviews.

- Ensuring that the quality policy and quality objectives are established for the quality management system and are compatible with the context and strategic direction of the organization: The policy and objectives must not only exist but also be well known to the workforce. Further the policy and objectives must be reviewed at regular intervals and updated as needed. Objectives must also be set at relevant functions levels and processes.

- Ensuring the integration of the quality management system requirements into the organization’s business processes: Quality must be embedded into everything that the organization does. The leadership must be well versed with the QMS, the core process and communicate to all that quality is everyone’s responsibility.

- Promoting the use of the process approach and risk-based thinking: AS 9100 Rev D internal auditors are looking for evidence of how the leadership has assessed the context of the organization from Clause 4.1 and the needs of the interested parties from 4.2 to identity risks and then further address them within the QMS.

- Ensuring that the resources needed for the quality management system are available: Auditors are looking for examples of resources that the leadership had provided. This should also further be evidence when reviewing and assessing other processes.

- Communicating the importance of effective quality management and of conforming to the quality management system requirements: Auditors are looking to learn how the leadership does this. There are many different ways through which this may be done such as an all-hands meeting, newsletters, memo letters, training etc. As 9100 Rev D provides further guidance on communication in clause 7.4.

- Ensuring that the quality management system achieves its intended results: the management review will provide inputs on managements involvement with the system including the review of key metrics and actions taken.

- Engaging, directing, and supporting persons to contribute to the effectiveness of the quality management system: Where needed middle management may need the leadership to support new initiatives and changes. Auditors want to learn from the leadership what measures they have taken to support personnel in achieving the goals / objectives set.

- Promoting improvement: How do the top management ensure continual improvement of their system?

- Supporting other relevant management roles to demonstrate their leadership as it applies to their areas of responsibility – Once again this subclause of AS 9100 rev D calls for support of personnel as needed.

AS 9100 Rev D internal auditors will also need to look for examples of how leadership is ensuring customer focus throughout the organization.