Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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M-1003 Certification

QA Events and Training Courses

Chapter 7 Nonconformance Reporting

General Questions

2019 QA Conference Presentations

M-1003 Certification

When is the next M-1003 Training Course?

QA Events and Training Courses

When is the next QA Conference?

The Association of American Railroads’ 32nd Annual Quality Assurance Conference is scheduled for January 28-30, 2020 at the Hilton Fort Worth in Fort Worth, Texas. Open sessions are on January 28-29 and workshops on January 30.

Click here to register.


What types M-1003 training courses does the AAR offer?

Currently, there are three different courses offered by the AAR that pertain to Quality Assurance. The courses and their descriptions are given below:

M-1003 Basic Auditor Training Class

The M-1003 Basic Auditor Training Seminar is intended to improve the participant’s knowledge, background, and skills needed in conducting M-1003 internal or external audits. This course provides 24 hours of instruction and learning exercises that include auditing techniques; a thorough review of the M-1003 requirements; development of an organization’s Quality Assurance Manual/Procedures; and personal auditing experience gained through active participation in case study work, group exercises and class discussions

M-1003 Advanced Auditor Training Class

The M-1003 Advanced Auditor Training Seminar is designed for those parties seeking in-depth training in AAR Quality Assurance Program auditing techniques and practices. Attendees must have attended the AAR Basic Auditor Training seminar. Exceptions are granted contingent upon similar training, in which case pre-approval is required prior to registration. The attendee should have performed at least one internal or external audit prior to attending the seminar. The course will include case study work, a detailed quality assurance manual review using the QASE checklist, and various role-playing activities. Hands-on experience is obtained though participation in an on-site compliance audit. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is required for this class including hard hats, safety glasses, hearing protection, and steel toe shoes.

Root Cause and Corrective Action Class

The Root Cause Analysis and Corrective Action course is an interactive two-day training program and is designed to improve the problem-solving skills of employees by promoting the understanding of the processes and techniques used for effective root cause analysis and corrective action implementation. The intent is to enhance awareness of the underlying causes of problems that negatively impact many organizations' operations, quality, and profitability. Instructors will utilize lectures, group discussions, hands-on exercises, and other interactive activities to develop the knowledge and skills of the attendees.

What is the cost of the M-1003 Training Courses?

The three-day M-1003 Basic and Advanced Auditor Training Courses cost $1,140.00. The two-day Root Cause and Corrective Course costs $810.00. All classes include continental breakfast and full lunch each day.

Who should attend the M-1003 Training Courses?

The courses are ideal for the following people: • Any individual requiring a working knowledge and understanding of the M-1003 Specification for Quality Assurance • Quality professionals and consultants that are new to the railroad industry. • Railroad industry quality managers and supervisors responsible for training internal QA auditors and implementing a Quality Management System.

How do I register for an M-1003 Training Course?

An AAR Circular Letter will be released when event registration has opened. Follow the link provided on the FAQ page to register.

Currently accepting registrations for:

All participants are responsible for their own hotel accommodations. A discounted rate is available when you book in the AAR room block.

To register for the Basic Auditor Training, July 16th-18th in Colorado Springs, CO
Click here to register
Click here for hotel bookings

To register for the Advanced Auditor Training, September 10th-12th in Pueblo, CO
Click here to register
Click here for hotel bookings

To register for the Basic Auditor Training, October 8th-10th in Guadalajara, MX
Click here to register
Click here for hotel bookings

To register for the Advanced Auditor Training, October 8th-10th in Topeka, KS
Click here to register
Click here for hotel bookings

To register for the Basic Auditor Training, November 5th-7th in Orlando, FL
Click here to register
Click here for hotel bookings

How do I know if I need M-1003 certification?

Appendix A of MSRP Section J lists activities that require M-1003 certification. If your product is listed, then your facility must obtain M-1003 certification. In addition to M-1003 certification, Appendix A denotes whether your product or service requires technical approval.

What is an Activity and Activity Code?

As it pertains to M-1003, an Activity is a material, product, or service for use in North American Railway Interchange Service. An Activity Code is an alphanumeric identifier that is linked to an Activity. Activities and Activity codes are listed in Appendix A of M-1003. An example of an Activity Code and associated Activity is A20 – Manufacturer of Freight Cars.

What is Appendix A of M-1003? What are Voluntary vs. Mandatory Activities?

Appendix A of M-1003 lists activities (products and services) that require M-1003 certification. If a facility’s activity is listed in Appendix A, then the facility must obtain M-1003 certification. These are described as mandatory activities. Voluntary activities are products or services that are not listed in Appendix A. Though they do not require M-1003 certification, many facilities with these activities choose to obtain M-1003 certification to prove to customers that they implement a Quality Assurance Program that meets AAR requirements.


Circular letters Related to M-1003 Appendix A (click to view)

Are non-North American facilities eligible for M-1003 certification?

Yes. Any company that provides a product or service for use in North American Railway Interchange Service can obtain M-1003 certification.

(see below)


What Documentation Is Required For Applying For M-1003 Quality Assurance Certification?

Required M1003 File Types: Excel, PDF, Word, Powerpoint

Paragraph 3.1.3 of the AAR Manual of Standards and Recommended Practices, Section J, requires that the documents listed below are to be submitted as part of a complete application for M-1003 certification. Be advised that if required materials are not submitted correctly, the application process will be delayed.

  • Quality Assurance Manual
  • Organizational Chart
  • Company Quality Policy
  • Brief Description of QA Program
  • Statement Describing the Scope of Product/Service
  • List of Current Technical Approvals *
  • Proof of North American Sales **

*Technical approvals may not apply to every facility, and may not be required. Please refer to Appendix A of M-1003 for technical approval requirements as they pertain to your facility’s product/service.

**Only those facilities that supply a product/service to the North American Railway Interchange Service are eligible for M-1003 certification. Thus, you must provide proof that the facility covered by this application meets the above requirement. Examples include an actual purchase order, a contractual agreement, or a letter of intent.

How do I apply for M-1003?

All M-1003 applications must be submitted online at After creating a user account and logging in to the system, use the “Facility Certifications” tab and select “Create New Application”. Follow the simple application steps and upload all documentation as required by MSRP Section J, Paragraph 3.1.3.

How long does the M-1003 approval process take?

There are several factors that determine the timeframe for M-1003 certification, including, but not limited to, type of product or service, required technical approvals, facility location, etc. As such, time from completed application submission to initial certification can vary from four to nine months.

How much does M-1003 certification cost?

Exact fees associated with the cost of all AAR approvals are listed in Appendix E of the AAR Office Manual. For North American facilities, the cost for certification and recertification audits is between $6,000 and $12,000. The cost for compliance audits is between $4,000 and $8,000. These are approximate costs. Click here for the 2017 M-1003 audit fees.

How long does M-1003 certification last?

Each M-1003 certification is in effect for a period of 3 years, subject to annual compliance audits. After initial certification, there is a minimum of two annual compliance audits followed by a recertification audit at the end of the third year of certification. Initial certification and recertification audits cover all 24 elements of Chapter 2 of M-1003, while compliance audits cover a subset of six to eight of these elements.


How do I change the scope of my M-1003 certification?

There are several situations that constitute a change in scope of certification. Some examples are changing company name and adding or removing activity codes. No matter which situation your facility is in, if the scope of certification changes, you must provide notification on company letterhead to no less than 60 days prior to the next audit to ensure that the request is processed. The notification should include facility QA Code, facility address, and a statement on how the scope of certification is changing. For example, if you wish to add activity codes, the statement would be similar to: “Company XYZ with QA Code ABCD is currently certified to activity codes A20, B25, and B26. We would like to add activity codes B33-1 and B33-9 during the course of our next audit.”


Please be advised that changes to the scope of M-1003 certification may necessitate a full, 24-element recertification audit. For example, a facility that adds activity codes which require technical approval will likely require a recertification audit.


Where can I find a contractor profile data sheet to update the activities for my facility?

The sheet can be found here.

How do I know which facilities or components have current AAR certification?

For M-1003 certification status, go to the online AAR Registry of M-1003 Certified Facilities. Commonly referred to as “the Registry” or “the M-1003 Registry”, this live, searchable database contains the most current listing of M-1003-certified facilities and the activities (products or services) covered by their M-1003 certification. If a facility is listed in the Registry, they have received initial M-1003 certification and their M-1003 certification is current.

What is a QA Code?

A QA Code is unique alphabetic identifier assigned by the AAR to an M-1003 certified facility. Once assigned, a facility’s QA Code cannot be changed. When corresponding with AAR Staff regarding an M-1003 certified facility, it required to reference the facility’s QA Code.

Who will audit my facility?

There are more than 50 AAR Accredited Auditors across four Auditing Agencies that are certified to perform audits on behalf of the AAR. Auditors are assigned to facilities based upon the scope of work of the facility and area of expertise of the auditor. All auditors adhere to strict confidentiality requirements regarding a facility’s quality assurance manuals, procedures, audit reports, etc.

Chapter 7 Nonconformance Reporting

How do I file a QA-7.1 nonconformance report?

Login to Use the “Commodity Compliance” tab and select “Submit Form 7.1”.

Who can file a QA-7.1 nonconformance report?

Any facility, regardless of M-1003 certification status, that receives nonconforming product from an M-1003 certified facility should submit a QA-7.1 nonconformance report.

Who can I file a 7.1 nonconformance report against?

QA-7.1 nonconformance reports can only be filed against a facility that is currently M-1003-certified.

How do I sign up to receive notifications regarding my facility’s QA-7.1 nonconformances?

See section on creating a user account. Once you have a user account associated with the appropriate facility, you will automatically receive email notifications from the system

General Questions

Where can I find the QA Newsletter?

The quarterly QA Newsletter is provided by a joint effort between the AAR Quality Assurance Committee and RSI Quality Assurance Committee. Past and current issues of the QA Newsletter can be found below. If you would like to add your name to the distribution list, send a request to

QA Newsletter Q2 2019

QA Newsletter Q1 2019

QA Newsletter Q4 2018

QA Newsletter Q3 2018

QA Newsletter Q1 2018

QA Newsletter Q1 2017

QA Newsletter Q2 2017

QA Newsletter Q3 2017

QA Newsletter Q4 2017

How do I obtain AAR Certification?

General information about the process for obtaining AAR approval for railroad components can be found by clicking here.

How do I obtain technical approval?

General information about the process for obtaining AAR approval for railroad components can be found by clicking here. Each component is different, so the best practice is to thoroughly read and understand the appropriate AAR MSRP that corresponds to your component.

Who is the Quality Assurance Committee?

The AAR Quality Assurance Committee (QAC) consists of AAR railroad members and AAR associate members. All members of the QAC have extensive experience in auditing of quality systems and knowledge of Specification M-1003. Among the QAC’s responsibilities are maintaining Specification M-1003, training and approving AAR Accredited Auditors, monitoring Chapter 7 nonconformance reports, and approval of M-1003 facility certifications.

How do I access the iiRX Website?

In any internet browser, navigate to Use your assigned username and password to log in to the system. If you do not have a user account in the system, click here for more information.

How do I create a user account in the online M-1003 system?

In any internet browser, navigate to When prompted, select “Account Request”. Fill in the brief form with your contact information. Submit the request. You will receive a confirmation email from with username, password, and login information.

How do I access AAR Circular Letters?

Open any internet browser and navigate to

Where can I purchase AAR Publications?

All AAR Publications including the Field Manual, Office Manual, and Manual of Standards and Recommended Practices can be purchased at

Where can I find the most current Quality Assurance System Evaluation (QASE) Checklist?

The most current Quality Assurance System Evaluation Checklist – or QASE for short – can be downloaded by clicking here. Check this link periodically for any updates to the QASE.

Where can I find supplemental technical checklists?

Although no longer a requirement of M-1003, supplemental technical checklists are still available for industry reference. You can download an index of the checklists by clicking here.

What are the differences/similarities between M-1003 and ISO:9001?

M-1003 and ISO:9001 are both specifications for requirements of a quality assurance management system. While ISO:9001 is applicable to many industries, M-1003 is specific and more stringent to application in railroad manufacturing. There are several railroad-specific requirements covered by M-1003 that are omitted from ISO:9001. This includes (but is not limited to) the need for AAR Technical Approval, subscription to AAR Circular Letters, Chapter 7 nonconformance reporting requirements, and required audits by an AAR Accredited Auditor.

If a company already maintains ISO certification, do they also need M-1003?

This depends on the type of product or service a company provides. If the product or service is listed in Appendix A of M-1003, then the company is required to obtain M-1003 certification. If the product or service is not listed in Appendix A, then the company can obtain M-1003 certification on a voluntary basis.