Qualification testing is performed to verify the design and manufacturing process, and it provides a baseline for subsequent acceptance tests. The production qualification testing is conducted at the unit, subsystem, and system level on production items and is completed before the production decision. The results of these tests are a critical factor in assessing the system’s readiness for production. Down line Production Qualification Tests (PQTs) are performed to verify process control and may be performed on selected parameters rather than at the levels originally selected for qualification. [1]

Production Qualification Tests [1]
PQTs are a series of formal contractual tests conducted to ensure design integrity over the specified operational and environmental range. The tests are conducted on pre-Full Rate Production (FRP) items fabricated to the proposed production design drawings and specifications. The PQTs include all contractual Reliability and Maintainability (R&M) Demonstration tests required prior to production release. For volume acquisitions, these tests are a constraint to production release.

First Article Tests (FAT) [1]
FATs consist of a series of formal contractual tests conducted to ensure the effectiveness of the manufacturing process, equipment, and procedures. These tests are conducted on a random sample from the first production lot. These series of tests are repeated if the manufacturing process, equipment, or procedure is changed significantly and when a second or alternative source of manufacturing is brought online.

Website: FAR Subpart 9.3 – First Article Testing and Approval

FATs and approval ensures that the contractor can furnish a product that conforms to all contract requirements for acceptance. It may be appropriate when: [2]

  • The contractor has not previously furnished the product to the Government;
  • The contractor previously furnished the product to the Government, but:
    •  There have been subsequent changes in processes or specifications;
    •  Production has been discontinued for an extended period of time; or
    • The product acquired under a previous contract developed a problem during its life;
  • The product is described by a performance specification; or
  • It is essential to have an approved first article to serve as a manufacturing standard

AcqLinks and References:

Updated: 6/5/2018

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