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Why You Need the Air Powered Torque Screwdriver for Your Aircraft Assembly

The aerospace industry is known for the high number of holes needed in aircraft assembly. Drilling is understandably a critical part of the process, but for every hole made, a fastener goes through it.

This makes the bolts and nuts used to connect different parts of the aircraft's critical components in aircraft integrity and safety. By extension, the tools used to tighten these fasteners are crucial as well.

The air-powered torque screwdriver, in particular, is a very useful tool for this and in the assembly of an aircraft in general.

In this article, we will discuss the importance of having properly tightened fasteners to the functionality and safety of an aircraft, the role that the air-powered torque screwdriver plays, and your various tooling options.  

Importance of Fasteners for Aircraft Integrity

When airplanes take flight, they are subjected to five major stresses: tension, compression, torsion, shear, and bending stress. In this extreme environment, fasteners keep the segments together, ensuring the safety of the passengers. With their small size, it is hard to imagine how big of impact fasteners have on aircraft safety. In order for any aircraft to operate safely and efficiently, the correct fasteners must be selected and used properly[1]. This means using only aircraft quality fasteners and tightening them to the recommended torque value or using a locking device.

Aircraft bolts and nuts come in a variety of shapes and sizes to match every size of hole and type of stress. The nuts are usually made of cadmium plated carbon steel, stainless steel, or anodized aluminum alloy. Bolts, on the other hand, can be made of steel or aluminum alloys and titanium. These are designed to withstand up to 125,000 psi of tensile stress, twice that of traditional bolts, with the premise that they are properly torqued. Under-tightening of either nut or bolt will cause excessive vibration, while overtightening can put additional stress on the bolt. Premature failure is the result of either situation and would seriously compromise the soundness of the aircraft structure.  

Most commercial aircraft have over six million parts, and half of them are fasteners[2]. Bolts and nuts are mostly used in areas where much strength is needed. With the high number of bolts that have to be tightened, each at a proper torque, it is essential for any manufacturing assembly to have a reliable tool that can help the operator do the job fast and right.

What is an Air Powered Torque Screwdriver?

An air-powered torque screwdriver, or a nutrunner, is an industrial tool that can be used to tighten or remove nuts and bolts quickly with minimal effort from the operator. It multiplies the torque[3] using one or more stages of epicyclic gear trains powered by a pneumatic source. A reaction device or a torque arm protects the operator by absorbing the torque reaction, while the torque output is controlled accurately by adjusting the supply air.  

Pneumatic Torque Screwdriver Tooling Options

Every assembly line needs reliable tools as much as it needs skilled operators. Below are some of the best tools available in the market today (for your consideration).  

LBR33 S26 ratchet wrench non shut-off

LBR Ratchet Pneumatic Torque Driver - This is a ratchet wrench with a slim head, perfect for tightening and loosening bolts or nuts in narrow spaces. It has a reverse movement built-in for operator convenience.


LTO38 R18-L offset tube, pneumatic angle nutrunner

LTC/LTO Angle Pneumatic Torque Driver - This pneumatic torque screwdriver offers a useful combination of power, speed, and accuracy. In addition, its head is shaped like a crowfoot with an open end for easier access to narrow spaces. It is ergonomically designed for greatly improved operator productivity. This tool would make a great addition to your operation.


LTD28 N18-RE Pneumatic straight nutrunner

LTD13/28/38/48 Straight Pneumatic Torque Driver - This tool is equipped with a powerful motor capable of fast run down while maintaining an accurate final tightening. With its slim and ergonomic design on top of unmatched speed and accuracy, operators will be able to do more in less time.


LTD61 straight pneumatic nutrunner

LTD61 Pneumatic Straight Pneumatic Torque Driver - This torque driver is based on a unique twin motor concept, capable of providing extreme run-down speed and torque accuracy, even on soft joints. It has a shutoff valve that stops the tool once the desired torque value is reached. Additionally, it can be combined with a remote control back head. This allows the operator to start or reverse from a safe distance. The ability to operate at a distance also makes this the perfect torque screwdriver for fixtured applications.


LTV28 R28-10 pneumatic angle nutrunner

LTV28/38/48 Angle Pneumatic Torque Driver - Its small design and angled head make it ideal for working in cramped spaces. It is light and easy to grip with a low reaction force, guaranteed to increase operator productivity through a combination of speed, accuracy, and ease of use.


Atlas Copco pneumatic nutrunner LTV29

LTV29/39 Angle Pneumatic Torque Driver - This tool has a powerful motor matched with spiral cut angle gears that can consistently give accurate and high-speed tightening. Combined with an advanced ergonomic design, lightweight, and small dimensions, operators will find it exceptionally easy to work with.


Hold and drive pneumatic angle nutrunner LTV48 R200

LTV48 HAD Angle Pneumatic Torque Driver - Consistent with the LTV series of nutrunners, this tool is capable of delivering fast rundown speed and tightening accuracy regardless of joint variations. It can also be used on hold and drive, or HAD bolts, enabling one operator to do the task that used to take two. In addition, it comes with HAD sockets in three different lengths. Its wide range of applications, ergonomic design, and easy handling will reduce downtime and increase productivity significantly.


Pneumatic angle nutrunner LTV69 R 370-20

LTV69 Angle Pneumatic Torque Driver - This power tool is compact and lightweight but is still able to deliver speed and accuracy due to its twin-motor design and precise clutch. It can be used in cramped spaces with ease and comfort, ensuring the same level of productivity achievable in a regular working space.


How Can Atlas Copco Help?

Bolts and nuts are the quintessential fasteners, critical to the integrity of every aircraft. Your business, and many lives, will depend on the quality and tightness of each one. With Atlas Copco's advanced line of high-performing air-powered torque screwdrivers, you can count on each of your aircraft to bring people to places safely and efficiently each and every time.

Keep your aircraft intact and your business strong. Contact us now.

References:

1. Alexander, Ron, AIRCRAFT HARDWARE What You Need To Know, Zenith Air, March 1988

2. Akbiyik, Akin, Fasteners in the Aerospace Industry: Aerospace Fastener Applications, Part 1 Lecture Notes, Academia

3. Roland, Christophe, When do you use a nutrunner versus an impact wrench? Chicago Pneumatic, August 21, 2017