First Article Inspection (FAI)


When producing goods, quality is of utmost importance. That’s why the manufacturing process involves so many checklists, quality assurance controls, tools, and reviews. FAI, or first article inspection, is just the beginning of these measures. But, what is first article inspection exactly?

We’re going to cover the first article inspection definition in this article. We will also take a look at how pivotal technologies, like first article inspection software and artificial intelligence (AI) work to streamline the process and improve product quality overall. 

What is First Article Inspection (FAI)? 

In manufacturing, first article inspection (FAI) is a process to ensure that a product meets specifications and quality from the start. It takes place before giving the green light on running the entire production line. It’s called first article inspection because it is performed on the first sample of a manufacturing run, in which the first output is called the first “article.”

FAIs are vital for the manufacturing of any type of product, but they are especially pivotal when introducing a new product or making changes to an existing product. These types of inspections are also executed when factories change, production gets reinstated after a break, part of the manufacturing process is edited, or there’s been a vendor change. 

As you can see, when anything is even slightly adjusted within manufacturing, the FAI process takes place to make sure that the product quality and output is meeting its expectations and standards. 

First article inspection includes:

  • Engineering documentation review 
  • Manufacturing process inspection 
  • Product testing 
  • Documentation and reporting 

In the event that any defects are discovered, the production team will have to start from over again. This is why it’s so important to leverage the FAI process, because without it, businesses can suffer potential added costs and/or delays within the production schedule. 

The Purpose of First Article Inspection

A process of many steps has to be right from the beginning. Otherwise, it will result in a lot of wasted time, energy, effort, and money. 

First article inspection makes sure that everything is in good order to carry out and continue with the production of goods.

It is performed to:

  • Ensure product conformity
  • Verify production processes
  • Validate manufacturing capabilities

The FAI Process

Every team has their own FAI process, but no matter how it is done, the most crucial aspect is to be thorough.
Here’s a look at what first article inspection requirements usually include:


Outline and define what is going to be reviewed as part of the FAI, including: materials, processes, components, etc. 


Checklists are a great way to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks. Suppliers or someone from the quality assurance team can help create a robust checklist to work through. 


The keyword in FAI is of course “inspection.”
The inspection should span:

  • Equipment 
  • The process 
  • The product itself 


Last but not least comes the documentation. It’s important to document and record the inspection results. A  first article inspection report should cover the good and the bad, as well as any recommendations to improve upon the process. 

Benefits of First Article inspection

First article inspections provide benefits to those within the company, as well as ultimately to customers. By performing first article inspection, companies are able to:

  • Detect Defects: Without reviewing a product thoroughly once it’s been produced, there is the chance for mistakes or defects. By inspecting the first article off the production line, businesses can ensure top quality.
  • Improve Product Quality: Along with detecting defects, FAI helps to make sure that all products are standardized and align with the intended design and function.
  • Enhance Supplier Quality Management: Reviewing all the materials that are used to create a final product enhances supplier quality management so that companies can maintain strong relationships with each other.
  • Reduce Delays and Costs: If production takes place without FAI, but there’s an inherent issue, then it would become a total loss. This would cost the business both delays and money, so it’s best to investigate and approve the production run early on by completing a first article inspection. 

Challenges in First Article Inspection

The benefits cannot be understated when it comes to FAI first article inspection. However, it’s understandable for there to be some challenges associated with them, especially when they are being done manually.
These include:

Complexity of documentation

Given long checklists, there is a lot to document when inspecting all different aspects of the production process. From checking specific measurements to documenting tools and methodologies, and everything in between, there’s a lot to make note of. 

Time-consuming manual processes

Along with the documentation, people have to spend time reviewing all aspects with immense attention to detail, which ends up taking a fair share of time. 

Integration with existing quality management systems

You also want to make sure that if you’re using first article inspection software that it integrates with existing quality management systems. 

aiOla’s Speech AI Solutions in FAI

Luckily, first article inspection software, as well as speech AI solutions, help to alleviate the time and effort that first article inspection requires. You may now be wondering how speech AI can assist in FAI.
Let us explain. 

aiOla is a speech AI tool that understands business-specific jargon, in any language, accent, and acoustic environment. So, when it comes to being on the production floor within a manufacturing facility, or in any environment in which checklists are critical, aiOla proves to be a must-have. 

In the case of FAI, workers can speak through the first article inspection process, while continuing to work hands-free and with their eyes on the production line. By doing so, aiOla enables teams to:

  • Automate data collection and documentation through speech recognition 
  • Achieve utmost accuracy and efficiency in the inspection process 
  • Access real-time data analysis and reporting 
  • Integrate the critical data with quality management systems and ERP platforms 

That’s right – teams no longer have to rely on tedious, manual, and paper-based trails and documentation. It’s easy to set up because aiOla automatically digitizes your existing FAI process without disrupting workflows

Final Thoughts 

Now that we’ve answered, “What is first article inspection,” it should come as no surprise as to why it is so crucial for businesses to perform with accuracy, agility, and attention. While FAI can be a time-consuming process, solutions like aiOla, along with FAI software, are transforming how these inspections take place.