All About Aircraft Hardware

When talking about aviation, it can be easy to focus on the intricate, ‘flashy’ parts of an aircraft like the engines, controls, avionics. Etc. These are all undeniably vital for a functioning aircraft, but equally vital is the aircraft’s hardware, the humble nuts, bolts, screws, and rivets that hold the airframe together. There’s no point in designing and manufacturing the perfect engine for an aircraft, after all, uf substandard bolts will cause it to tear itself off of the fuselage, after all! According to the Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics General Handbook, aircraft hardware is “the term used to describe the various types of fasteners and miscellaneous small items used in the manufacture and repair of aircraft.”

Hardware types include, but are not limited to:

  • Bolts
  • Nuts
  • Washers
  • Screws
  • Cotter pins and safety wires
  • Rivets
  • Turnlock fasteners
  • Miscellaneous items like 0-rings, crush washers, etc.
  • Control cables
  • Fluid lines and fittings
  • Electrical wirings and connectors

In this blog, we will break down a few of the most common and frequently used types of hardware.

Bolts are used when high strength is needed, and are substituted with screws when it is not. Aircraft quality bolts are made from alloy steel, stainless, or corrosion resistant steel, along with aluminum alloys and titanium. They will have a marking on their head that denotes what type of metal was used to make them, as well as other basic information about their design.

Nuts lack identification, but are made from the same material as bolts to prevent static build-up. Nust must have a locking device to keep them in place, which is typically cotter pins, fiber inserts, lockwashers, and safety wire.

Washers provide a shim when needed, act as a smoot load bearing surface, and adjust the position of the castle nuts in relation to the drilled hole in a bolt. Plain washers are used under a lockwasher to prevent damage to a surface.

Cotter pins are mostly used on custom aircraft, and can be made from stainless steel or plated with cadmium. Cotter pins are used for safetying and securing bolts, screws, nuts, and other pins.

When purchasing hardware, make sure that it is aircraft-grade. Hardware like fasteners is technically legal for experimental aircraft, but it should not even be considered for usage. This is because components used in aviation go through far greater stresses in terms of heat, weight, and corrosion than those for automobiles. Common steel bolts, for instance, have a tensile strength of roughly 50,000 to 60,000 psi, have very little corrosion protection. Aircraft bolts are made from corrosion resistant steel and are heat-treated to have a strength of 125,000 psi and higher. There are numerous standards for hardware specifications, both civilian and military, such as the Air Force-Navy, Military Standard, and National Aerospace Standards. Always check with your manufacturer’s recommendations on what they want you to use on the aircraft.

At ASAP Aviation Supplies, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find all the hardware for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at or call us at 1-720-923-2840.


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