Supplier Quality Program

The supplier maintains a Quality Assurance Program meeting the Bell Helicopter, U.S. Government, and industry quality system specifications. The system assures all contracted parts and assemblies conform to and comply with applicable drawings, specifications, and other criteria specified by purchase agreement. The supplier is responsible for all requisite inspections and tests to substantiate product conformity. This responsibility is executed not only during supplier production operations, but also in any procurement made in fulfillment of a Bell Helicopter purchase order. The supplier provides objective evidence of product conformity, regardless of the manufacturing source. Production material suppliers must place emphasis on defect prevention rather than detection to provide Bell Helicopter with defect-free product. The supplier must actively participate in mistake-proof applications and statistical process control methods as a proactive approach in achieving its quality performance goals. The supplier must use systematic problem solving techniques to determine root cause and facilitate closed loop corrective action. A candidate supplier must demonstrate technical leadership that is committed to total quality, on-time delivery, and a competitive advantage based on technology and/or significantly superior processes.

Quality Management / Inspection System

The Supplier's Quality / Inspection System complies with applicable requirements of purchase order referenced Quality Procurement Specifications and is implemented by written / controlled procedures. All procedures are documented in English. Suggested major headings for the program / inspection system documentation include:

  • Control # Assigned for Distribution Control
  • Revision History Page
  • Operational Planning
  • Design Change Control
  • Measuring and Testing Equipment Control
  • Procurement Control
  • Corrective Action
  • Control and Issuance of Inspection Stamps
  • Control of Tooling
  • Personnel Training / Certification
  • Original date of issue and revision date, if applicable
  • Authorizing signatures of QA & Management officials
  • Document Control
  • Materials and Parts Control
  • Product Inspection - Testing (In-process and Final)
  • Nonconforming Material Control
  • Statistical Inspection
  • Handling, Storage, Packaging
  • Control of Non-deliverable Software
  • Records
  • Facsimiles of Quality Forms
  • Organization

The supplier's Quality/Inspection personnel has sufficient organizational freedom to identify and evaluate problems and to initiate, recommend or provide solutions.

Operational Planning

Operational Planning is of sufficient detail to assure all manufacturing and inspection operations are indicated, and departure from requirements will not occur when the plan is followed. As a minimum, there is an inspection buy-off for verification of the use of correct material and final acceptance. Operational Planning provides for the accountability of parts during the manufacturing cycle. This is of such degree that parts accountability is available at the completion of operations and provides rejection information, rework information, scrap, splits, etc. Any changes to production planning are made by authorized personnel only. Records are established for the effectivity of planning changes physically affecting the part.

Document Control

The supplier maintains a system for the control of drawings, specifications, planning, procedures, other technical documents, and changes thereto. The system provides for the timely removal of incomplete, obsolete or defaced documentation from production and inspection areas. Documentation is required on all processes from supplier receipt of goods through delivery to Bell Helicopter . Record retention on Primary, Critical, or Flight Safety parts, assemblies, or processes is required for ten (10) years. For parts or processes other than Primary, Critical, or Flight Safety, record retention is required for five (5) years. Legible and reproducible records, such as microfilm, electronic copies, or similar electronic portable document format (PDF) files, may be filed in place of original records.

Statement of Conformance

Unless otherwise required by contract, within each shipment, the supplier includes a statement of conformance, certifying compliance to all purchase order requirements. This statement is signed by Quality Management and is entered on the shipping document or included as a separate document.

Configuration / Change Control

The supplier manufactures, inspects, and tests to the requirements of the applicable purchase order, including engineering drawings, specifications, and BPS's. All requests for interpretation of Bell Helicopter requirements or technical assistance from Bell Helicopter are referred to the Buyer, using the Subcontract Information / Action Request (SIAR).

Materials, Parts, and Assemblies

Materials, parts, and assemblies shall be subjected to inspection upon receipt assuring conformance to technical requirements. The supplier's Quality Program shall assure that raw materials used in the fabrication or processing of products conform to applicable physical and chemical requirements. The supplier shall exercise controls required to prevent the inadvertent use of nonconforming items.

Measuring and Test Equipment Control

The supplier maintains a calibration program, meeting the requirements of MIL-STD-45662 (or equivalent industry standard). The system ensures the timely recall and calibration of all company and employee-owned measurement and test equipment. Suitable records are maintained and available for review.

Product Inspection / Testing

The supplier's Quality Program assures the accomplishment of final inspection and, if applicable, testing of completed products. In the event all characteristics cannot be verified on the completed product, in-process inspections and / or process monitoring are accomplished.

Procurement Control

Suppliers assure that all supplies and services procured from sub-tier suppliers and processors conform to applicable Bell Helicopter requirements. The supplier exercises / imposes all applicable Bell Helicopter requirements in purchase orders including, but not limited to: Bell Helicopter part number and nomenclature; drawing revision letter, including any unincorporated Engineering Orders; BPS number and revision level; Bell Helicopter purchase order number and change order level; and applicable special instructions. The Bell Helicopter purchase order referenced Quality Procurement Specification(s) delineates the control information required when subcontracting to an outside source for process operations.

Subcontracting of any process where the applicable BPS requires "facility approval" is intended to sources listed in "Approved Process Sources" listing. Bell Helicopter I must approve suppliers utilizing their own in-house processes for such processes. For BPS's not requiring Bell Helicopter I approval, the subcontractor is responsible for assuring all relevant processes are in compliance to specification requirements. Objective evidence of conformance to the Engineering requirement for each subcontracted operation is required and records of such inspections are maintained.

Nonconforming Material Control

The supplier maintains a documented system to ensure nonconforming products are immediately identified as nonconforming, segregated (as size permits) from conforming products, and are withheld in a designated, controlled area for review and disposition.

The supplier must hold the discrepant item(s), pending Bell Helicopter 's disposition. Repair IS NOT made or attempted without Bell Helicopter MRB authorization Material Review Authority and Standard Repair usage is delegated to the supplier when deemed necessary by Bell Helicopter . Whenever a Government contract is applicable for materials/supplies, as a minimum, the corrective action procedures must contain provisions for implementation of the Corrective Action and Disposition System for Nonconforming Material, as outlined in MIL-STD-1520. Whenever a supplier desires either or both considerations, a petition is submitted to the Manager of Bell Helicopter Supplier Product Assurance.

All personnel considered for Material Review or Standard Repair Dispositions are required to attend a training session at Bell Helicopter , prior to approval. Delegation, when accomplished, is by formal letter to the supplier from Bell Helicopter , and is restricted to that source only. After delegation, any changes to procedures or forms, and the addition or deletion of names to the list of approved personnel, require resubmittal to and approval by Bell Helicopter.

Corrective Action

The supplier must have an effective program for timely investigation, stock purge, corrective action, and follow-up, for rejections initiated by both the supplier and Bell Helicopter . Discrepancies warranting written corrective action are reported to the supplier by Bell Helicopter SPA. This is accomplished by forwarding the Material Disposition Report (MDR) with a Corrective Action Request for a formal reply to Bell Helicopter . The reply gives evidence that circumstances surrounding the cause of the discrepancy were thoroughly investigated and appropriate and positive steps were taken to preclude recurrence of the discrepancy. The effectivity point of the action is noted by date and/or serial number.

Upon receipt of a Corrective Action Request from Bell Helicopter , the supplier neither ships nor presents for acceptance any like item, until the supplier's Quality Assurance personnel assures the item(s) is/are free of the defect(s) reported by the corrective action request.

Program Self Audit

Each supplier annually conducts an audit to ensure that adequate controls exist indicating compliance to requirements. These results are fully documented and maintained on file, available for review upon request by Bell Helicopter . The audit documentation includes provisions for all applicable elements of this document, results of each element, corrective actions initiated when required, the auditors name and date of audit.