First Article Inspection

First Article Inspection (FAI) is the detailed verification of production results against the product design requirements in order to provide objective evidence that all engineering design and specification requirements are properly understood, accounted for, verified and documented before ongoing manufacturing begins.

What’s Involved in the First Article Inspection Process?

First article inspection reports are commonly used in a wide variety of manufacturing industries, especially those including the production of medical, automotive, aerospace and military equipment. Professionals conduct these inspections after the approved design process and before serial manufacturing to ensure that the product is fully compliant with the drawing requirements. Whether you’ve just put a design change to paper or you’re planning to change the location of manufacturing, first article inspection is an important step to take if you want to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

First article inspection includes a verification of all detailed design requirements, from materials and feature dimensions to special processing and more. The Aerospace Standard 9102 is the typical First Article Report Form utilized to document the first article. Before the FAI, it’s important to make sure all specification documents are available. Sub-component FAIR’s, process records and material reports will also need to be organized ahead of time.

After all plans are in order, the person doing the inspection will examine the drawing to review part numbers (and revision), check materials and specifications, go over process details and verify characteristic features and measurements. All these factors will be documented in the FAI report to validate whether your product is conforming to the design requirements.

Benefits of a First Article Inspection Procedure

There are many benefits to having a first article inspection procedure before you start manufacturing the product or piece of machinery. This test ensures that:

  • All parts and materials are manufactured to the design (drawing or model) requirement
  • The proper manufacturing process and tools are used to make the product
  • Both suppliers and customers understand the specifications
  • Necessary adjustments can be addressed
  • Inconsistencies in production can be identified

When to perform a First Article Inspection

First article inspection is usually required for new product designs or situations in which at least two years have passed since the last part production. First article inspection is also required if part production is moved to a different facility or critical tooling is changed or replaced.

That said, FAI is about more than complying with standards and regulations. It’s about validating all aspects of the product requirements are met and documented for objective evidence. This helps reduce the risks of costly mistakes down the line.

What Does a First Article Inspection Report Tell You?

A first article inspection report gives you a thorough review with objective evidence that the part meets all of the requirements captured on the drawing (or part model). The first article inspection allows you to identify gaps and take measures to stop issues before serialized production begins. With the help of FAI, you’ll validate all the specifics of the manufacturing process and how they fit together, as well as whether or not they will work the way you expect them to when production begins.

Organizations that neglect to do FAI’s  between the approved design and manufacturing processes are at risk of major issues with parts, specifications, and supplier and consumer communication. The inspection makes you aware of these issues so that you can fix them before they impact productivity.

At NTS Unitek, we partner with organizations in all areas of the supply chain to ensure quality and timely manufacturing is performed. We can provide effective first article inspection services today or learn more about our other options below.

Our Services

NTS Unitek provides a wide variety of Supply Chain Quality Services for organizations that are looking to improve their quality programs. Our first article inspections are conducted by experienced, skilled professionals who have passion for quality. We’ll take care of the full inspection process so you can focus on your operational goals and core competencies.

We have experience working with a variety of industries like aerospace and defense organizations as well as medical and automotive industries. Our services allow customers to identify and manage risks earlier in the production cycle. Unitek is proud to have supported our customers for over 45 years.

Contact NTS Unitek to Get Started Today

NTS Unitek has been providing first article inspections and related services since 1973.  The excellence of our global team distinguishes us from our competitors. We believe that just as a quality product begins at the source, quality auditing begins with well-trained inspectors. Our technical specialists have an average of 20 years’ experience in their respective fields, and our talent pool includes aerospace engineers and other subject matter experts.

Get started by using the contact form on this page to request a consultation at your convenience. You’ll see immediately why we’ve earned a reputation as one of the most reliable first article inspection auditing companies today.


“There is not a member of our team that does not agree that NTS-Unitek has proven that one individual really can make a tremendous impact.  Your presence at this supplier has enabled the buyer to provide accurate information to the program as well as ensure key milestones are achieved.”

- Manager, Technical Management Firm

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