Aerospace Screws

Screws are the most commonly used threaded fastening devices on aircraft. They differ from bolts inasmuch as they are generally made of lower strength materials. They can be installed with a loose fitting thread, and the head shapes are made to engage a screwdriver or wrench. Some screws have a clearly defined grip or unthreaded portion while others are threaded along their entire length.

Several types of structural screws differ from the standard structural bolts only in head style. The material in them is the same, and a definite grip length is provided. The AN525 washer head screw and the NAS220 through NAS227 series are such screws.

Commonly used screws are classified in three groups: (1) Structural screws which have the same strength as equal size bolts; (2) machine screws, which include the majority of types used for general repair; and (3) selftapping screws, which are used for attaching lighter parts. A fourth group, drive screws, are not actually screws but nails. They are driven into metal parts with a mallet or hammer and their heads are not slotted or recessed.

Structural Screws

Structural screws are made of alloy steel, are properly heat treated, and can be used as structural bolts. These screws are found in the NAS204 through NAS235 and AN509 and AN525 series. They have a definite grip and the same shear strength as a bolt of the same size. Shank tolerances are similar to AN hex head bolts, and the threads are National Fine. Structural screws are available with round, brazier, or countersunk heads. The recessed head screws are driven by either a Phillips or a Reed and Prince screwdriver.

The AN509 (100°) flathead screw is used in countersunk holes where a flush surface is necessary.

The AN525 washer head structural screw is used where raised heads are not objectionable. The washer head screw provides a large contact area.

Machine Screws

Machine screws are usually of the flathead (countersunk), roundhead, or washer head types. These screws are general purpose screws and are available in low carbon steel, brass, corrosion resistant steel, and aluminum alloy.

Roundhead screws, AN515 and AN520, have either slotted or recessed heads. The AN515 screw has coarse threads and the AN520 has fine threads.

Countersunk machine screws are listed as AN505 and AN510 for 82°, and AN507 for 100°. The AN505 and AN510 correspond to the AN515 and AN520 roundhead in material and usage.

The fillister head screw, AN500 through AN503, is a general purpose screw and is used as a capscrew in light mechanisms. This could include attachments of cast aluminum parts such as gearbox cover plates.

The AN500 and AN501 screws are available in low carbon steel, corrosion resistant steel, and brass. The AN500 has coarse threads while the AN501 has fine threads. They have no clearly defined grip length. Screws larger than No. 6 have a hole drilled through the head for safetying purposes.

The AN502 and AN503 fillister head screws are made of heat treated alloy steel, have a small grip, and are available in fine and coarse threads. These screws are used as capscrews where great strength is required. The coarse threaded screws are commonly used as capscrews in tapped aluminum alloy and magnesium castings because of the softness of the metal.

Selftapping Screws

Machine selftapping screws are listed as AN504 and AN506. The AN504 screw has a roundhead, and the AN506 is 82° countersunk. These screws are used for attaching removable parts, such as nameplates, to castings and parts in which the screw cuts its own threads.

AN530 and AN531 selftapping sheet metal screws, such as the Parker-Kalon Z-type sheet metal screw, are blunt on the end. They are used in the temporary attachment of metal for riveting, and in the permanent assembly of nonstructural assemblies. Selftapping screws should not be used to replace standard screws, nuts, bolts, or rivets.

Drive Screws

Drive screws, AN535, correspond to the Parker-Kalon U-type. They are plain head selftapping screws used as capscrews for attaching nameplates in castings and for sealing drain holes in corrosion proofing tubular structures. They are not intended to be removed after installation.

Identification and Coding

The coding system used to identify screws is similar to that used for bolts. There are AN and NAS screws. NAS screws are structural screws. Part numbers 510, 515, 550, and so on, catalog screws into classes such as roundhead, flathead, washer head, and so forth. Letters and digits indicate their material composition, length, and thickness. Examples of AN and NAS code numbers follow.


AN = Air Force-Navy standard. 
501 = fillister head, fine thread. 
B = brass. 
416 = 4/16 inch diameter. 
7 = 7/16 inch length.

The letter "D" in place of the "B" would indicate that the material is 2017-T aluminum alloy. The letter "C" would designate corrosion resistant steel. An "A" placed before the material code letter would indicate that the head is drilled for safetying.


NAS = National Aircraft Standard. 
144 = head style; diameter and thread - 1/4-28 bolt, internal wrenching. 
DH = drilled head. 
22 = screw length in 16ths of an inch - 1 3/8 inches long.

The basic NAS number identifies the part. The suffix letters and dash numbers separate different sizes, plating material, drilling specifications, etc. The dash numbers and suffix letters do not have standard meanings. It is necessary to refer to a specific NAS page in the Standards book for the legend.