First Article Inspection

First Article Inspection: The Ultimate FAQ Guide

If you’re importing from China, knowing what first article inspection is important.

It forms a critical aspect of the quality control process.

So, if you want to learn more about the first article inspection, read this guide.

What is a First Article Inspection?

A first article inspection is an official method that provides a report on the measurements of products manufactured.

It is a verification method that compares two variables, the design of the product over the production feedback.

Why is First Article Inspection Necessary?

The first article inspection is necessary because it: –

  • Reduces future risks
  • Improves quality, delivery and enhances customer satisfaction
  • Provides confidence that the processes are in line with the standards required
  • Proves to the manufacturers that the products designed are in accordance to their requirements
  • Provides quality assurance to the consumer, and the market at large
  • Ensures all products are under a high quality operating measure that gives the product the best standards in the market.
  • Promotes customer satisfaction due to the high standard of products
  • Enhances production and documentation of commodities
  • Monitors the production to ensure appropriate processes are followed during documentation
  • Enables consistency in production of quality products
  • Influences and markets products due to their high quality of production

What are the Conditions for First Article Inspection Form?

For a first article inspection to be taken, a number of items need to be included in the form.

They are: –

  • Materials (raw materials for production)
  • Personnel (people who perform the work)
  • Time of production (duration estimated for production from the initial stage to end of the production)
  • Equipment of production (machinery to perform the production processes)
  • Other necessary documents that enhance production including the reports given to verify the quality of the products)

What is the Process of First Article Inspection?

The first article inspection is done during the initial stages of production.

Furthermore, the results are to be 100% compliant in accordance with the standards of the commodity given.

The first article inspection is done in stages from the time the supplier selects raw materials for production, to pre-planning, then the first article inspection commences.

When the first article inspection is completed, a report is documented.

When the report is in accordance with the required needs of the product, or it is 100% compliant, packaging and shipping commences to the consumer.

Below is a representation of the process of the first article inspection.

That is from the supplier, to pre-production, first article inspection, then when there is a 100% compliance, the product is moved for production, packing and finally shipping.

However, in case the product does not meet 100% compliance, it is reviewed for correction before proceeding with production.

First article inspection

First article inspection process

When should Company begin the First Article Inspection?

A company should begin the first article inspection by planning on the activities to be performed before the production process.

Secondly, the first article inspection is conducted when there is an order contract between the producer and the buyer.

It may also be conducted if the production of a commodity change (from the initial design to a more modified one)

What Steps are in First Article Inspection?

Some of the main steps include determining:

  • Design specialization inspection and creating the characteristics that may not be measured at the end of the product
  • Product Design and the characteristics necessary for products that may not be covered in the balloon drawing
  • Objective to be in the design characteristic
  • The approved products have met the requirements, and contain the desired components.

Besides it ensures the contents meet the measure and standard expectations of the consumer

  • The Main components and important items to be used in the production process, and that they tally with the required standards of form AS9100 and AS9102
  • When the specific tools are required to enhance production

Additionally, it provides the customer with the first article inspection to verify that the products are in line with the desired specification.

The last stage is availing the first article inspection for review

How do you Create a First Article Inspection Report? What is an FAI Report?

A FAI report is an official document that approves the validity of a product.

It is a documentation method conducted during manufacturing whereby each buyer approves the report before purchasing the products.

To create a first article inspection report, you need to plan by collecting the necessary documents needed during the first article inspection.

Secondly, you create the inspection plan, you fill out form 1 and 2 of AS9102

You proceed to the manufacturing part.

Then collect data by inspecting the parts documented to verify that they tally and lastly you create a report to give feedback of the product.

The first article inspection report approves that the product is ready for use by consumers, and its quality is good.



What is the Advantage of the First Article Report?

Some of the advantages include:

  • The first article report enhances the accuracy of the balloon drawings designed by engineers
  • Ensure all the manufacturing process meet the standards of production
  • Provides all tools required in the processing of the commodity and are in line with the specifications required
  • The reports help limits the number of defects in mass production
  • Controls the quality of production by monitoring closely on the design used during production
  • The report assures the buyers that all parts and materials are manufactured and designed in accordance to the requirements needed.
  • Both customers and manufactures can easily understand the specifications of the product.

What is First Article Inspection in Manufacturing?

It is the initial item that is manufactured using the same production process that the rest of mass production undergoes.

Its aim is to validate the client’s needs in terms of production, assembling, and all the requirements needed for mass production.

What is as9102 First Article Inspection?

It defines the first article inspection as planned, complete, independent, and documented inspection.

Besides, it is a form that verifies that the product is in accordance to the engineering drawings, planning, an order made and specifications.

What is the First Article Test?

Also known as (FAT)

It consists of official contractual tests that are done to ensure the effectiveness of the manufacturing process, equipment, and the procedures are undertaken.

Tests are done on a random sample from the first production hence the name first article test

Does ISO 9001 Require First Article Inspection?

Companies that manufacture aviation or aerospace machinery require the ISO 9001 certification.

Thus, a first article inspection will be required.

How is the First Article Inspection Process?

The process of the first article inspection involves a verification of the final product.

A comparison between the design of the product and the final product is done to prove compliance.

Normally, the process involves an adherence to a standard catalog AS9102 and the customers’ expectations since you must meet the customer requirements.

On a mass scale, the first article inspection is done using a first piece approval before proceeding.

The specific drawings or the revised parts of the manufactured parts must be in line with the specifications given requirement.

Besides, the first article inspection is done at each stage and a subsequent report is recorded

The first article inspection report is given to the manufacturer and the consumer whenever a contract arises.

The first article inspection report is given and it consists of three forms:

  • Form 1 (accountability)
  • Form 2 (product accountability)
  • Form 3(characteristic accountability)

When filling the forms, each of them have different data to be filled.

For instance, it has a yellow-painted part which is mandatory, blue painted part, and a conditionally required part.

Lastly, there is a white paper which is an optional field

What is a Ballooned Drawing?

It is an itemized drawing that contains numbered balloons that represent individual dimensions and requirements for each part.

Each number on the ballooned drawing is represented by the data on the report.

A ballooned drawing area vital component in the inspection process.

It is a measurement used to identify various parts in a manufacturing or assembly process that is used by a drawing engineer.

The numbers and balloons are drawn in color red ink.

Below is a picture of a ballooned drawing marked in red color.

Ballooned drawing

Ballooned drawing

What are the Requirements for First Article Inspection?

Before the first article inspection is done, the following are mandatory: –

Raw Materials

It entails the raw material selected to process the required products.

The specific details and the type of material required are determined here.

Ballooned Drawing

It entails the specific measurements drawn by the engineer to give the final product.

Special Processing

It includes all the specific processing requirements needed to facilitate production.

Test Procedures

It entails the tests, inspection plan executed when the final product is out before heading to the consumer.

 First article inspection

First article inspection

What is the Importance of the First Article Inspection Checklist?

You need this checklist to carry out first article inspection.

The checklist may be handed over to the quality assurance inspectors.

They verify the conditions of products.

With the help of a checklist, you can identify any defects.

You can verify whether the agreements between the buyer and manufacturer be kept in terms of time, costs.

In case of illness, the colleagues may easily proceed with the work with less difficulty.

It facilitates one to conduct quality and safety inspection systematically.

Moreover, it offers more than 10,000 templates to assist companies to get started with the first article inspection.

Again, it effectively enhances the quality assurance of production.

Normally, it creates a platform where all results can be documented after a complete inspection.

It enhances the quality of the product hence you can identify the inefficient areas in a particular company.


The first article inspection checklist has a more advanced method that is digitalized.

Currently, the checklist helps you to convert all data from an individual report to a digital checklist with less effort.

It offers more than enough ready-made templates.

Besides, it helps companies start the first article inspection easily.

After this, all the results and reports are converted and stored in the digital report.

It facilitates a larger number of companies when undergoing the first article inspection.

What is the Last Article Inspection?

(LAI) used in cases of higher risks.

It is conducted as the last step in order to verify the originality of a product.

However, the last article inspection may be implemented when there is a change in the design of a product.

What is First Piece Approval?

It is the first process that approves the products from a new design.

Normally this process entails a repetition or a correction of the previous design if the producer or buyer is not comfortable with the current design.

It is an inspection done after a change is made on an initial process.

Moreover, it is an inspection done at every stage of the production process.

Its focus is during the process when the actual process is taking place and not the final result.

It verifies all the manufacturing products in each step and focuses on the current operation.

The processes are engineering, programming, machinery check-up, an inspection of equipment, and all relevant procedures to enhance production.

Most cases, customers focus on the first piece of approval, because it gives them the quality of production.

The first piece of approval is handed over to another unit of inspection before sending the results out, it is done to assure quality work.

In cases where defects are detected, the inspection unit corrects in accordance to the balloon drawing.

What are Inspection Methods?

There are three types of an inspection conducted, they include: –

  • Before production inspection
  • During line production
  • Final inspection

 Quality inspection process

Quality inspection process

Before Production Inspection

It is conducted when the raw materials are tested before getting into production.

This involves numerous tests to examine the weight of the material, quality, uniqueness, texture, and durability.

It is done to determine whether the raw material has any defects, hence rejected

Inspection of materials is done beforehand, way before production begins

It is done to avoid cases where the consumer rejects a product due to its defects.

Inline Production Inspection

It is an inspection done during the production process.

Each subsequent stage has a distinct type of inspection to improve the quality of production.

In this type of inspection, a correction may be made whenever a problem is identified during the production process.

Any defect detected can be rectified during the inline production inspection.

An example of an in-line production inspection is during the cutting phase.

You should check each piece to ensure it conforms to the required dimensions and sizes.

Final Inspection

It is the last stage of inspection before auditors take charge and verify the quality of the product before heading to the market.

At this stage, products are thoroughly examined to increase the efficiency in terms of size, overall appearance, and packaging.

The branding of a product is done at this final inspection stage.

This is after you ensure that the standards of the products are 100% compliant according to the set specifications.

However, some products may have defects despite the numerous checks at the three stages of inspection.

In such cases, you can remove the products and replace them with a high-quality item.

What is a Pilot Piece of Inspection?

It is done when a new product or a new design of a product has been developed.

At times, you can start using the pilot plant in case the production process does not face any challenges.

Remember, quality compliance is a major concern.

How are Standard Catalogue Items Defined?

A catalog is a list of items that have been recorded for sale.

The standard catalog items are identified by the 9102 code and 9100 code.

It confirms that the material used in the industry is in line with the standard requirement of the industry.

For instance, in the first article inspection.

In the aerospace industry, it is provided by the AS9102 code, which is a mandatory requirement during the inspection.

The purpose of this standard code is to create a consistent flow of inspection when documenting the first article inspection.

The standard code is a certification based on the level of published documentation of varied companies.

For example, SAE, the Society of Aerospace Engineers formulated its standard code to monitor the records, quality and other activities that may enhance their production.

What are Supplier Requirements for First Article Inspection Report?

Any supplier will need a list of requirements for the first articles inspection report, which are: –

  • The AS9102 form to be filled with all the details of the products and it should satisfy the need of consumer
  • A report of first article inspection for review
  • A balloon drawing created for each first article inspection report for submission
  • Raw materials and their certifications
  • A catalogue with a list of all purchased, manufactured or assembled products that have been designed by the engineer responsible
  • All documentation of the designs of the manufactured parts
  • Any documentation of the modified parts
  • Documentation of any changes made on the designs of the manufactured or the assembled parts
  • Records to assist in tracing the process, products and the drawings

At BanSar, we help you with all quality control processes including the first article inspection and factory audit.

Contact us today for all your quality inspection services before importing from China.

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