When it comes to aircraft hardware, there is no room for cutting corners. Only the highest quality materials must be used to ensure that the aircraft is manufactured correctly. Aircraft cable is a critical piece of equipment that is found in all types of planes, from small two-seaters to Boeing 737s and even military aircrafts.  

The aircraft hardware cable industry has gone through quite a bit of ups and downs lately. The COVID-19 pandemic caused production and demand to plummet, as airlines cut back on flights and aircraft purchases. However, as travel bans are being lifted, the market is expected to bounce back stronger than ever before, with a projected 6.2% market growth through 2028.  

But this type of cable is high in demand for more than just aircraft production. You may be surprised to see that many industrial hardware distributors have aircraft cable offered in their inventory.  

This extremely durable and strong piece of equipment can be used for many things – so, here’s what you need to know before placing an order with an industrial hardware supplier.  

  1. All Hardware Cables Must Meet Specific Aircraft Quality Standards

Aircraft hardware cables are used primarily for tie-downs, as well as for stabilizing, fastening, and lifting extremely heavy pieces of equipment. Therefore, this type of cable has to be constructed to ensure that it is durable and safe. 

Aircraft cable has set quality standards which are determined by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and the USDOT (U.S. Department of Transportation) for any cable produced or used in the United States. These guidances ensure that the cables meet regulatory requirements for aircraft equipment. There are set standards for all types and uses of aircraft cable, depending on the application, structure, and so on. 

The materials used in aircraft cable are quite specific, which is what primarily sets them apart from other types of industrial cables. Traditional hardware has too low of a tensile strength and heat ratings, so aircraft cables are only made from high carbon steel, typically 316 or 302/304 grade.  

  1. Aircraft Cable is Similar to Extreme Strength Wire Rope

Due to their appearance, aircraft cables are often mistaken for wire ropes. These are similar in some aspects, such as the overall design of construction. 

 Wire ropes are constructed with several strands of wires which are woven together to create an extremely strong cable. There are multiple configurations, depending on the number of wires and strands used in its construction. The more wires used, the more flexible the wire rope will be.  

There are also several types of cores which are utilized in wire ropes and industrial cables. These may be fiber cores, independent wire ropes, or wire strands. These can provide either added flexibility or strength, depending on the intended use and load limit.  

Aircraft cables are constructed in a similar fashion to wire ropes, but they have their own sizing and construction standards. Aircraft cables can be made from wires ranging between 3/64” to ¼”. 

The configurations for industrial wire ropes compared to aircraft cable are also slightly different. Most aircraft cables are constructed with 7×19, 7×7, 3×7, 1×19, or 1×7 configurations. This refers to the number of strands used as well as the number of wires per strand. Industrial wire ropes are most often offered in 6×15, 6×19, 6×26, or 6×36 configurations. 

Ultimately, you could say that aircraft cables are essentially an extremely strong wire rope – but there are important differences, and these two pieces of hardware cannot be used interchangeably.  

3. Aircraft Cables can be Used for Many Things  

Although aircraft cables are primarily used for aircraft construction and transportation, this equipment is quite versatile. Thanks to its extremely durable design and high tensile strength, it can be used for far more than just aircrafts.  

Some other common applications for aircraft cables include: 

  • Boating and Marine Applications – Stainless steel cables are often used for maritime purposes, since it is naturally corrosion resistant. Aircraft cables may be used for securing boats to the dock, as well as hoisting them out of the water. 
  • Pulley Systems – Since pulley wires must resist the natural friction it encounters, the cables must be extremely durable. Aircraft cables are often used in this type of apparatus, particularly for lifting heavy loads. 
  • Exercise Equipment and Ziplines – These types of cables can be used for entertainment and recreational purposes, but they must be strong enough to withstand lots of weight and friction, as well as harsh weather environments. This makes aircraft cables the ideal hardware choice. 
  • Securing Cargo – Aircraft cables are often used on cargo ships and trucks to tie-down large loads.
  1. You Should Only Purchase from a Qualified Industrial Hardware Supplier

Since aircraft cables must meet specific standards and the strength and durability is so important, only buy from a trusted industrial hardware distributor. You should only buy from certified suppliers who provide ample details about the materials, construction, and origin of their cables.  

One thing to look out for is the grade of steel which is used to create the cables. Apart from just the graded number, it is recommended that you only use aircraft cables made from IPS (improved plow steel) or EIPS (extra improved plow steel). This classifies the steel’s tensile strength. 

You should also work with a distributor who offers expert advice and assistance when placing orders. There may be times when you need a specific size or when one type of steel grade will do better than another. An industrial hardware supplier should be able to answer any questions you have about their products and help you find the exact configuration, type, and size of cable you need. 

 Looking for Top-Quality Aircraft Cables? 

If you’re in the market for aircraft hardware cable and need a supplier you can trust, contact us at Elite Sales. We carry a vast variety of industrial hardware, including aircraft cables, wire ropes, and more. Our team is also on-hand to answer any questions and point you in the right direction.