The importance of standards

How important is it to refer to the standards that are applicable to the task in hand? Within the aerospace sector there are numerous primes which all have their own standards and procedures and can have different requirements for the same inspection method and technique. The differences can relate to how long the penetrant should be applied for, rather than the size of flaw that would be classed as a reject.

Another significant difference can be the certification standard called for. There are standards that cover second-party certification based on SNT-TC-1A, where the employer has a written practice and appoints a Level III to administer the training and certification; there is no independence to this scheme, however it is tailored to the company’s specific requirements, equipment and procedures. BS EN ISO 9712:2012 covers the requirements for third-party certification, where the employer, trainer and examiner are all different people. The training and examinations are conducted in accordance with published syllabuses but are not tailored to the company’s specific requirements. As an aside, the BS relates to a British standard, the EN relates to a European standard and the ISO relates to an international standard. The minimum requirements given in the standard have to be met. PCN typically exceeds these requirements and all European schemes meet the minimum requirements. This is not the case internationally as some countries can and do apply Guide 21, which allows deviation from the requirements.

So, in conclusion, the use of standards is not customary and the correct standard has to be agreed at the beginning of the work. Even the application of the standard is not uniform between companies and countries. This should not be the case, especially when considering the requirements for the inspection of aerospace products against the inspection of bridges – both linked under the transport banner but so very different in materials and applications. Therefore, ensure that you are working to the correct standard and that it is at the agreed issue state.

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