Rivets have been a key part of aircraft assembly for decades. While airline technology has evolved substantively over the years, rivets continue to be crucial in ensuring durable and safe airplanes.
During a flight, several forces cause a plane to vibrate and flex. A major benefit of aircraft rivets is their resilience to these forces. Riveted joints are more flexible than other assembly methods, which makes them more durable under stress. Welded joints tend to be stiffer, which causes more fatigue, while nuts and bolts are more apt to loosen from vibrations. Riveted joints are also strong. Because rivets connect the holes of two parts and expand, they join parts firmly from the inside.
Require Less Heat
Riveting parts together doesn’t require the high temperatures generated with welding. Manufacturers build airplanes with aluminum and other lightweight products because the materials are aerodynamic and cost-effective. High heat can alter and weaken them, which makes riveting a preferred choice in most cases.
It’s easier to repair and replace a section that’s been riveted versus joined by other methods. Riveted sections enable easier access and are simpler to reinstall. Replacing welded parts, for example, would produce high heat that could impact surrounding sections. Aircraft rivets are also easier to inspect. Riveted connections usually need a visual inspection while welded connections would need additional testing.
Help Isolate Problems
Using shorter riveted sections helps to isolate problems. If a minor crack or other issue were to occur in a long section of the fuselage, for example, it could grow and cause serious issues. If a problem occurs in a small riveted panel, it’s easier to address and has less impact on the overall structure.
Whether they’re used in sport aircraft, military jets or large commercial airliners, rivets are an essential component. They provide reliable joints that are easier to repair and maintain.