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Aerospace Industry Argues for Standards Based on Technical Excellence Rather than Source

New York, Mar 07, 2006

Experts from the Strategic Standardization Forum for Aerospace (SSFA) have released a position paper on the use of aerospace standards in response to growing concern that certain policies and legislation may be putting the industry–and consumers–at risk. The paper argues that aerospace must select standards based on safety, quality and technical merit, rather than based on which organization developed them.

According to the paper, certain government policies, legislation and even contracts are increasingly requiring the used of “international standards” to define and assess products. This typically refers to documents produced by bodies such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The paper argues that such policies preclude the use of technologically advanced standards produced by many globally relevant developers simply because of semantics.

“The quality of our aerospace products depends on industry selecting the most suitable and reliable standards,” said AIA President and CEO John Douglass. “Policies that limit these choices in a manner that can eliminate the most advanced, proven, and secure are simply a bad idea.” The industry position supports the tenets of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade such as openness, transparency, impartiality and consensus, but asserts the industry must use standards from a variety of sources.

“The aerospace industry promotes the use of global standards,” said SSFA Chairwoman Laura Hitchcock, senior standards specialist at the Boeing Company. “But regulatory authorities and legislators must understand that adopting an arbitrary definition of what constitutes an acceptable 'international standard' risks the reliability of our aerospace products and limits our ability to make innovations.”

“This is ultimately about protecting the public good,” said Greg Saunders, director of the Defense Standardization Program Office, which produces standards used globally in the production of both civil and military aerospace products. “This is not a position for or against any one group of standards, but a statement supporting all the different organizations worldwide that contribute to the standards data needed to support aerospace.”

Chartered by the board of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), the SSFA is a broad stakeholder group including industry, government, regulatory agencies, and standards developers and serves as the coordinating contact for U.S. aerospace industry standards positions and U.S. input to global standards development activities.

The full text of the SSFA position paper can be found at

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