Test & Evaluation

Qualification Testing

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 ensure 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: 7/6/2021

Rank: G1

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