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Process for Obtaining AAR Approval for Railroad Components

This document serves only as a general guideline for the component and facility approval process. Specific steps must be confirmed by the appropriate AAR Committee Manager.

1. Ensure your company meets the requirements of being a supplier to North American Railroads.

A supplier can be considered for AAR approval only when supplying to North American Railroads (USA, Canada and Mexico). In the North American system, AAR Technical Standards are supported by industry checks and balances in regards to liability, certification tests and analysis, service trials, inspections, and industry notifications of performance problems. This system functions with the cooperation of the AAR, railroads, and suppliers, all supported by industry information systems. Countries outside North America do not have the required checks and balances system in place, and the AAR is not staffed for such support. Therefore, the AAR has the following position on approval requests from suppliers:

  • If the intent is to supply AAR approved products to North America, then normal AAR approval procedures will apply as described in this document.
  • If the intent is to supply AAR approved products outside North America only, AAR will not provide product or facility approval. However, the AAR will provide Voluntary QA audits for companies not supplying to North American Railroads.
  • In the event that a supplier pursues AAR approval with a cursory effort to supply North American railroads, and the prime intent of that approval is for marketing purposes outside of North America, then approval will not be given or, if already granted, may be withdrawn.

2. Obtain and Review AAR Publications
3. Submit Application/Design and Obtain Approval (fee is required, listed in the AAR Office Manual, Appendix E)
  • Submit design drawings and fees (per component) to the Committee Manager. It takes four to ten weeks to review with the appropriate AAR committee. Product designs can be presented to the appropriate committee at semi-annual meetings. Committee members confirm what evaluations, inspections and/or tests may be required.

4. Conduct Test, Obtain Test Approval (fee required)
  • In many cases, component testing of some type is required as specified by the MSRPs. An official test observer appointed by the AAR must be present, and costs must be covered by the applicant.

5. Obtain Facility Technical Approval (fee required)
  • Technical Inspection is required for all major components according to the MSRPs.
  • Facility must be producing the product applied for
  • An official technical inspector will be appointed and conduct the inspection, and costs must be covered by the applicant.
  • Inspector costs and Facility Approval fee are covered by applicant

6. Obtain Facility QA Approval (fee required) (See QA Section of this document)
  • Quality Assurance Inspection is usually required according to the MSRPs.
  • The AAR Quality Assurance Committee Manager will supply the process for this Approval.
  • Inspector costs and Quality Approval fees must be covered by applicant
  • Can be concurrent with the Facility Technical Approval

7. Request Conditional Approval
  • Once all the above approvals are in place, conditional approval for the component maybe awarded
  • Conditional approval periods (usually two years) place a limit on the number of components that can be sold
  • The Applicant is required to provide sales and service reports to the Committee.

8. Request Unlimited Approval
  • Granted upon satisfactory product performance and completion of Conditional Approval

Publications Required by Component Type

In addition to the AAR Administrative Standards S-060-00, acquire and review the following AAR Manuals of Standards and Recommended Practices. The lists below provide key component specifications. The list is not inclusive. Please review the manuals and discuss the process with the appropriate committee manager.

Specification revisions can be obtained through an AAR CIRCULAR LETTER LICENSE. The AAR Circular Letter system is web-based and is used by the AAR to communicate new, revised and proposed rules to the subscribers, covering all aspects of railroad mechanical systems.

For Coupling Systems
   Section S: Casting Details
   Section B: Couplers and Freight Car Draft Components
   Section S-III: Coupler and Yoke Details
   Section J: Specification for Quality Assurance, M1003

For Car Construction
   Section C: Car Construction Fundamentals and Details
   Section C Part II: Design, Fabrication, and Construction of Freight Cars, M-1001
   Section C Part III Specifications for Tank Cars, M-1002
   Section J: Specification for Quality Assurance, M1003
   Office Manual of the AAR Interchange Rules
   Field Manual of the AAR Interchange Rules

For Truck Systems and Components
   Section C: Car Construction Fundamentals and Details
   Section CII: Design, Fabrication, and Construction of Freight Cars
   Section D: ¬†Trucks and Truck Details
   Section S1: Casting Details
   Section S2: Truck Details and Casting Codes
   Section J: Specification for Quality Assurance, M1003

For Wheels, Axles, Bearings, and Lubrication
   Section G: Wheels and Axles
   Section GII: Wheel and Axle Manual
   Section H: Journal Bearings and Lubrication
   Section HII: Roller Bearing Manual
   Section J: Specification for Quality Assurance, M1003

For Brake System Components

   Section E: Brakes and Brake Equipment
   Section EII: Electronically Controlled Brake Systems
   Section J: Specification for Quality Assurance, M1003

For Intermodal Equipment

   Section I: Intermodal Equipment Manual
   Section J: Specification for Quality Assurance, M1003


In addition to the technical specifications that you may need to meet, you will need M-1003 (Quality Assurance) Certification.

The requirements and application for AAR Specification M-1003 can be found in Section J of the AAR Manual of Standards and Recommended Practices.

Process for obtaining Quality Assurance approval, includes the following:

  • Complete an application (AAR Specification M-1003 figures 3.1 & 3.2) and send it to the AAR Quality Assurance Committee Manager.
  • The Manager will assign an AAR Accredited Auditor; you should send a copy of your QA Manual (in English) to that Auditor.
  • The AAR Auditor will schedule an audit of your facility at a time convenient to both of you, and request payment of audit fees, as mandated by Appendix E of the AAR Office Manual of Interchange Rules.
  • After the audit takes place you must satisfactorily respond to any nonconformance resulting from the audit. The auditor will then send his recommendation for certification, along with a copy of the report, nonconformance items, and the nonconformance responses to the QA Committee for evaluation.
  • After QA Committee Approval, Certification is granted.
  • On an annual basis an AAR Auditor will schedule and complete an audit of your facility to maintain your M-1003 Certification.
  • For more information about the Quality Assurance Process, please see the frequently asked questions page.