How important is ERP Software for Aerospace & Defense Regulatory Compliance?

14 May 2024 11:23 AM By Kaan

In the strict world of Aerospace and Defense (A&D) manufacturing, regulatory compliance is not just a legal necessity; it's a critical component that ensures safety, security, let alone competitiveness. There are many regulations governing this sector, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS), and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Accommodating these regulatory bodies and more are non-negotiable for A&D contractors. 

ERP systems police regulatory compliance requirements. This includes data security, audit trails, traceability, and documentation management. Without, the potential penalties, disruptions in operations, and reputational damage.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): Ensuring Airworthiness and Safety

The FAA plays a central role regulating aerospace contractors, particularly concerning airworthiness and safety. A&D manufacturers must comply to  maintain certification for their aircraft, components, and systems. This includes rigorous testing, documentation, and adherence to design and manufacturing standards such as the FAA's Part 21 (14 CFR Part 21) regulations.

Aerospace centric ERP systems must comply to ensure that every aspect of aircraft design, production, maintenance, and documentation meets FAA standards. This includes strict quality control measures, component traceability, adherence to airworthiness requirements, and comprehensive documentation management. 

Go to FAA (Federal Aviation Administration)

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): Driving Innovation and Cybersecurity

The NIST sets standards and guidelines for various industries, including A&D manufacturing. In the realm of cybersecurity, NIST's frameworks such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) are crucial for protecting sensitive data, intellectual property, and critical infrastructure.

ERP systems need to comply with NIST guidelines which includes implementing robust cybersecurity protocols, encryption measures, access controls, and regular audits to assess and mitigate risks. Non-compliance with NIST regulations could lead to cybersecurity breaches, data leaks, legal liabilities, and reputational damage. 

Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS): Safeguarding Defense Supply Chains

DFARS is particularly significant for A&D contractors. Compliance is essential for safeguarding defense supply chains, ensuring the integrity of products, and protecting classified information.

Key aspects of DFARS compliance include cybersecurity requirements under DFARS Clause 252.204-7012, which mandates the implementation of adequate security controls and reporting of cyber incidents. Additionally, DFARS addresses issues such as counterfeit parts prevention, supply chain traceability, and compliance with export control regulations like ITAR.

Go to DFARS (Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement)

The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR):Managing International Trade and Export Controls

ITAR governs the export and import of defense articles and services, including technical data and munitions. For A&D contractors engaged in international trade, ITAR compliance is required to avoid legal repercussions and ensure national security interests.

ITAR compliance involves strict controls over the transfer, sharing, and access to controlled technical data and defense-related information. A&D contractors must obtain ITAR licenses, classify their products appropriately, and implement robust security measures to prevent unauthorized access by foreign entities or individuals. As in other regulatory bodies, non-compliance with ITAR can result in severe penalties, export restrictions, and damage to international relationships.

ITAR governs the export and import of defense articles and services, including technical data and munitions. This includes obtaining ITAR licenses, classifying products appropriately, and implementing stringent security measures to prevent foreign access to sensitive information. 

Go to ITAR (The International Traffic in Arms Regulations).

Conclusion: Compliance for Success

Navigating the regulatory landscape of the Aerospace and Defense industry mandates diligence, expertise, and a commitment to excellence. Regulatory compliance with agencies like the FAA, NIST, DFARS, and ITAR is not just a legal obligation; it's a strategic imperative for A&D manufacturers striving for success in a competitive global market.


While ERP vendors may claim compliance with regulation bodies like FAA, NIST, DFARS, and ITAR, it's crucial for contractors to conduct due diligence beyond vendor claims. Regulatory compliance is a multifaceted aspect that requires detailed scrutiny. Contractors need to verify specific compliance features, certifications, audit trails, and integration capabilities within their ERP system to ensure alignment with regulatory requirement. Additionally, engaging in discussions with vendors, seeking references from industry peers, and consulting with legal and compliance experts can provide deeper insights into any ERP system's actual compliance readiness.

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