Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
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Where can I find the most current Quality Assurance Program Evaluation (QAPE) Checklist?
The most current Quality Assurance Program Evaluation Checklist – or QAPE for short – can be downloaded by clicking here. Check this link periodically for any updates to the QAPE.
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.
M-1003 Views and Interpretations
Click here to download document.
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.
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.
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.
Applications will be deleted if status remains in the “applying” stage greater than 3-months. If facilities wish to become M-1003 certified they will have to reapply as a “new” facility and upload all applicable documents again.
How do I apply for M-1003?
All M-1003 applications must be submitted online at http://aar.iirx.net. 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.
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. Refer to M-1003 Chapter 3 paragraph 3.9 for procedures for change notification such as change in ownership or name, change in location, adding activity codes, and removing activity codes. Additionally, the facility is responsible for submitting a dated notification on company letterhead to QA@aar.com for any change to the facility profile within the AAR online system including but not limited to the facility primary point of contact and the corporate contact information. This notification must include the QA Code, facility name, facility address and a statement of what needs to be changed in the online profile. Timely notifications are important because this system is how facilities are notified and receive information about facility certification status.
Where can I find a Facility 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 60 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.
AAR Auditor Review of Quality Manual
M-1003 Certified facilities must submit their Quality Manual and completed Quality Assurance Program Evaluation (QAPE) checklist to their AAR Auditor approximately 60-days prior to the scheduled audit. The completed QAPE must identify the corresponding line item from their program that addresses each requirement in M-1003 Chapter 2. The auditor shall audit the facility’s Quality Manual and QAPE to ensure that they meet this standard. This applies to current M-1003 certified facilities and facilities that are applying for new M-1003 certification.
2023 AAR M-1003 Quality Assurance Audit Handbook
The AAR Quality Assurance Committee has developed an M-1003 Quality Assurance Audit Handbook for industry information. The handbook provides information on AAR Audit protocols for managing and performing M-1003 Quality Assurance audits.
Chapter 7 Nonconformance Reporting
How do I file a QA-7.1 nonconformance report?
Login to http://aar.iirx.net. 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
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.
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 http://aar.iirx.net. 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 http://aar.iirx.net. When prompted, select “Account Request”. Fill in the brief form with your contact information. Submit the request. You will receive a confirmation email from firstname.lastname@example.org with username, password, and login information.
How do I access AAR Circular Letters?
Open any internet browser and navigate to www.aar.org/circulars/.
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 http://aarpublications.com/.
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.