The Importance of Aviation Riveting

From the automotive industry to infrastructure, a great amount of construction utilizes welding for bonding together metals and components. Despite this, many may have noticed that most commercial aircraft utilize riveting and other fastener components in order to assemble structures. Although welding is a longstanding practice that has been well developed over the past centuries, the aviation industry steadily chooses rivets due to their reliability and ease of maintenance that leads to safer aircraft. In this blog, we will discuss why aircraft are constructed with the use of rivets, and why riveting is so important for safety.

In general, rivets are a fastener that typically consist of a smooth shaft and a head on one side. To affix two or more components together, the tail-end of the shaft is passed through a preformed hole in the components, and the tail is upset with a tool to form a second head on the other side to lock the components in place permanently. Riveting is used on aircraft construction for a great number of areas, including the fuselage, aircraft wings, landing gear, and more.

When constructing the skin of the aircraft fuselage, pressurized cabins require thick skin that can be up to .039 inches. As welding is most optimal for thin sheets of metal, a fastener often proves to be most beneficial for optimal attachment. Furthermore, aircraft are often subject to extreme conditions during operations, some components heating to high temperatures due to the combustion of fuel and operating systems. Due to this, welding can pose a potential risk for the integrity of the aircraft, as metals with low melting points can cause the welding to begin to falter, thus a fastener proves much safer and reliable for such measures. Because of temperature risks, even metals that are thin enough to be welded are often affixed through aviation riveting. Despite bulkheads, stringers, spars, ribs, and longeron assemblies providing much of the internal structure of an aircraft, the skin must be as robust as possible as it shares the external loads.

Another major reason for the use of riveting is due to its repeatability in construction and assembly. As all components and fasteners that are used on an aircraft must meet strict standards and qualifications to be airworthy, utilizing a riveter to connect parts rather than welding can lead to more predictable strengths, reliability, and results. As welding requires other factors such as specific heats, durations, and more, having consistent results with welding proves much more difficult as compared to aviation rivets.

With heavy usage that many commercial airlines and aircraft undergo, it is paramount that they are regularly inspected to ensure that there are no problems that may cause a safety or operational risk. During such checks, inspectors will often utilize games in order to check the diameter and high of rivets, making sure that they can provide the greatest amount of strength. If there is a rivet that may pose a problem, the rivet can simply be uninstalled and replaced, minimally affecting the rest of the assembly and saving a great amount of time. As compared to welding, rivets prove to be easy to replace and can be checked much more efficiently during inspection. If a weld is unacceptable or is breaking, the entire weld needs to be removed and replaced, and this can cause widening of gaps which require fillers, thus leading to a more complex process as compared to rivets.


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