Aerospace thermal processing and Nadcap go hand in hand. Nadcap auditors are your key interface. Who are these people, and how can they help you? This article answers these questions and more.



Many Industrial Heating readers are familiar with the Nadcap program. In fact, nearly a quarter of respondents to a recent Industrial Heating online poll indicated that they are Nadcap accredited. In the same poll, over 40% indicated that they comply with AMS 2750D (Pyrometry), compliance with which is required to achieve Nadcap heat-treating (AC7102) accreditation.

For those who do not know, Nadcap is the leading worldwide cooperative program of major companies designed to manage a cost-effective consensus approach to special processes and products and provide continual improvement within the aerospace and automotive industries. Nadcap is an industry-managed program administered by the not-for-profit Performance Review Institute and is part of their Customer Solutions & Support (CS&S).

Number of PRI auditors by Full-Time Equivalent (FTE)

Nadcap Auditors

Nadcap auditors are subject-matter experts with years of experience in their field and in the aerospace industry. For heat treating, the more than 30 approved Nadcap auditors have 33 years experience, on average. In addition to experience, they are highly qualified: 80% have a bachelor’s in metallurgy/material science and 30% have a master’s in metallurgy/material science. It’s not surprising that Chet Daté, director of quality systems and regulatory compliance at Honeywell Aerospace, said, “Nadcap auditors, key pillars of the Nadcap process, provide crucial resources for continual improvement of special processes used in the aerospace industry worldwide.”

Nadcap audits are acknowledged as being difficult, but becoming a Nadcap auditor is not easy either. Unlike in ISO- or EN 9000-based audits, Nadcap auditors do not make the final decision. The Nadcap auditor’s goal is to evaluate and report the technical competency and compliance of the supplier, not to influence the operations in any way.

Auditor Requirements
As with many aspects of the industry-managed Nadcap program, aerospace prime contractors and suppliers feature prominently in the decision-making process. The special process-specific Task Groups (constituting aerospace prime contractors and suppliers) establish the core and technical requirements for Nadcap auditors in their field. For heat treating, these include:
  • Bachelor of Science degree in metallurgy or related field and five years heat-treat or furnace-braze experience, three of which are in the aerospace/defense industry
  • Associate degree in a technical field and seven years heat-treat or furnace-braze experience, four of which are in the aerospace/defense industry
  • High-school diploma and 10 years heat-treat or furnace-braze experience, five of which are in the aerospace/defense industry
  • Professional Engineer, Certified Quality Engineer or Certified Lead Auditor
  • Leadership in professional society (ASM, AWS, HTS, etc.)
  • Understanding of AMS 2750 or Prime Contractor Pyrometry specification
  • Familiarity with and understanding of aerospace heat-treat or furnace-brazing specifications
  • Familiarity with heat-treat equipment
  • Familiarity with and understanding of testing of heat-treated material or product
  • Heat-treat or furnace-braze experience = operator, supervisor, technician or engineer with direct exposure to heat-treat or furnace-braze equipment, qualification, procedure qualification or technical problem resolution
Candidates who meet these requirements may be invited to progress to the next stage, which is an interview with members of the Task Group to evaluate the individual’s skills and competencies, ultimately determining their suitability to become a trainee Nadcap auditor.

Auditor in Training
Trainees typically participate in two Nadcap audits with a lead auditor (one approved by the Task Group to coach, observe and provide feedback on trainee performance). In the first training audit, the trainee auditor primarily acts as an observer. In the second training audit, the trainee auditor conducts the audit observed by the lead auditor. Dependent on the assessment, one of three outcomes is possible: the trainee may be asked to participate in further training audits, the trainee may withdraw or be withdrawn from the process or the trainee will be approved by the Task Group and promoted to Nadcap auditor status.

However, Task Group approval to become a Nadcap auditor is not the end. There is continual monitoring through audit reviews. This means that after every audit, the supplier that was audited completes a feedback form regarding the audit. Questions include:
  • Did the auditor clearly and effectively explain each nonconformance?
  • Was the auditor on-site a sufficient amount of time to conduct a thorough audit?
  • Was the auditor consistent in their application of requirements as compared to previous audits?
Continuous Improvement
The information provided by the Nadcap supplier community gives guidance on topics for ongoing auditor training. Nadcap auditor training takes place each year when the more than 150 auditors are gathered together. Training topics have a technical focus but also include areas such as good auditing practice and procedural changes. Using ongoing evaluations and training ensures that the Nadcap auditors meet the expectation of the whole Nadcap program: to achieve excellence together through continual improvement. IH

To learn more about Nadcap, go to www.pri-network.org/nadcap. To find out about becoming an auditor, go to www.eAudit Staff.com. Further information on PRI training classes is available at www.eQuaLearn.com.

SIDEBAR: What Do the Auditors Say?

“I worked in the U.K. steel industry and ended up as a quality director in first-tier automotive supply. This is a volatile industry, and, when my company downsized, I wanted something different. Nadcap is different. I was attracted to Nadcap auditing because it allows me to control my working hours. I can work as many, or as few, weeks as I want. Consequently, although I choose to spend most of my time doing Nadcap audits, I am free to take other work – and do so. As Nadcap work is all expenses paid, I earn roughly the same as I would doing consultancy work, where I would have to pay my expenses. It is also very predictable – the booking horizon is currently around six months. If I do not want to do an audit, I can always say no. The work is technically interesting and varied, and all companies that I visit are different. I enjoy the opportunity to travel and improve my foreign-language skills, although it’s also nice to be able to carry out audits closer to home.”
Martin Bridge, Nadcap auditor for Heat Treatment and Aerospace Quality Systems

“My career was spent at the Naval Air Weapons Center at China Lake, Calif., starting in 1957 until I retired as director of the materials test laboratory in 1992. After retirement I was looking for a way to keep mentally sharp and up to date on emerging technologies and to continue my involvement in the aerospace industry. I was also looking for the possibility to do some traveling. These interests are what attracted me to PRI and being a Nadcap auditor. I have been with PRI as an auditor for many years and have enjoyed the time immensely. I have the flexibility to choose when to audit and to determine if I want to avail myself of the opportunity to travel and see other cultures. The time as an auditor allows me to stay involved in my career field and to keep in contact with people in the same profession. The staff at PRI is great to work with, and the company is on the leading edge of technology in their eAuditNet web-based auditing program. To sum it up – I am doing what I want to do and being paid good money to do it.”
George Hayes, Nadcap auditor for Materials Testing Laboratories, Chemical Processing, Coatings and Nonconventional Machining and Surface Enhancement

“Following my employment with Sundstrand, I was attracted to Nadcap because the nature of the work was similar but more in-depth. I like the flexibility of developing my own schedule. I would recommend becoming a Nadcap auditor to anyone who is dedicated to the aerospace industry. It is a rewarding experience working with a world-class aerospace organization that strives for competitive excellence. I enjoy the work and feel that PRI’s services are of enormous value to the aerospace industry. Working as a Nadcap auditor, I am continually learning about new technology in my field, and it also allows me the opportunity to experience different cultures.”
Chee Soon Lum, Nadcap auditor for Chemical Processing, Heat Treatment and Nonconventional Machining and Surface Enhancement