Although statistics indicate that about one in three Americans are either anxious or afraid to fly, travel by aircraft is one of the safest forms of public transportation. In fact, 2017 was the safest year on record for commercial passenger air travel worldwide. Although there are many reasons why an activity as complex as flying hundreds of people inside a small pressurized tube at over 500 mph at five miles high has become so routine and safe, it is in no small part thanks to the quality and reliability of some of the smallest parts on the airplane, self-locking nuts.
Self-locking nuts, also known as locknuts, literally hold an aircraft together. From assisting with the attachment of the wing to the body of the aircraft, to holding together overhead stowage bins, locknuts work in concert with screws and bolts to ensure passenger safety. Those companies with expertise in the field of locknut design and manufacture take their responsibility seriously, as their employees are frequent airline passengers.
Aircraft Locknut Manufacturers Association (ALMA) members are manufacturers of quality aircraft locknuts, with decades of experience in the design, manufacture, testing and certification of locknuts. They adhere to the requirements of stringent aerospace quality standards such as AS9100 (which is based on ISO 9001 but also incorporates aerospace industry specific requirements as set forth by the U.S. Department of Defense, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration). Furthermore, they hold authorization for the manufacture of aircraft locknuts from the FAA and are certified by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to provide fasteners for the U.S. Service fleet.
ALMA member companies control every aspect of the locknut fastener design, manufacturing and testing process. From ensuring that raw materials are bought from qualified sources, through manufacturing, heat treatment, plating, inspection, testing, certification, storage and shipment, all processes are thoroughly qualified for effectiveness and repeatability. Unlike nuts and bolts purchased at the local hardware store, all locknuts produced by ALMA member companies can be fully traced back to their original heat lot of material, with all operations in-between fully documented and certified.
ALMA member companies work closely with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) such as Bell, Boeing, GE Aviation, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, etc. to ensure that aerospace locknut designs meet the demanding needs of today’s aircraft, rotorcraft and spacecraft applications. They also serve as technical advisors and consultants to both government and non-government standards boards (e.g., Aerospace Industries Association, Nadcap, SAE International, etc.) as well as industry organizations such as the Industrial Fasteners Institute.
By observing the requirements of AS9100, the FAA, DoD and OEMs, ALMA member companies have affirmed their belief and complete dedication to the concepts of integrity, craftsmanship and technical excellence which has long been the hallmark of the aerospace industry. Whether privately-held or part of a large aerospace fastener manufacturing conglomerate, ALMA member companies strive to produce world-class products for the benefit and safety of the flying public.
In recent decades, aerospace fastener distributors have taken a larger role in the supply chain. Whereas OEMs used to buy directly from locknut manufacturers, most OEMs now buy through qualified distribution networks. This often streamlines the OEM procurement process and allows them to focus on their core competency.
Quality-focused aerospace stocking distributors adhere to the requirements of AS9120 (which is based on ISO 9001 with specific requirements related to the Aerospace industry), ensuring that their inventory consists of only fully traceable aircraft fasteners. ALMA member companies carefully select which aerospace fastener distributors will handle their products. In this way, manufacturers and distributors work together to ensure that every fastener provided to the OEM for incorporation into their aircraft, rotorcraft or spacecraft, is properly qualified and sourced.
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