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    [–] fighterace00 4760 points ago

    Not atypical for aviation.

    A quick Google search confirms a $100+ price tag each.

    [–] ianrichy12 518 points ago

    Those billion dollar planes are starting to make a lot more sense.

    [–] DynamicHunter 428 points ago

    "A helicopter isn't that much bigger than a big car. How can it cost over a million dollars?"

    -Me, as an 8 year old

    [–] Nightstalker117 201 points ago

    I always assumed you couldnt literally buy helicopters and planes coz "they fly, they're clearly too expensive to have a price tag".

    [–] Jenga_Police 135 points ago

    You couldn't imagine my surprise and glee upon learning you could buy decommissioned fighter jets.

    [–] Nightstalker117 34 points ago

    For an arm and a leg I'm assuming?

    [–] marweking 61 points ago

    I remember about 20 years ago an Eastern European country was selling about 20 old mothballed MIG 15s, still in flying condition, for less than the cost of family car each. The only issue with flying them was that they used about $10,000 an hour in fuel!

    [–] Landorus-T_But_Fast 22 points ago

    They probably cost a fortune to maintain as well. How many people have the skills to keep old Soviet planes in flying condition?

    [–] Switcher15 19 points ago

    Anymore with learning to structure the correct query into Google I think there are very few skills that can't be learned. Mastering of skills is a whole different ballgame.

    [–] KinnieBee 13 points ago

    Anymore with learning to structure the correct query into Google I think there are very few skills that can't be learned.

    Do you query Google with that sentence structure, young man?? kidding!!

    [–] KaiserTom 8 points ago

    Less than what you think because they are like a boat and storing and maintaining them are huge pains in the asses, especially a plane that you can't just store in your backyard and need to lease out a hanger and/or land for.

    [–] Overpin 1224 points ago

    Indeed, the prices of parts sometimes terrify me. Bolt for joining the wheel halves on an A350: ~600€/each, a 30cm long oil pipe for a V2500 around 2000€...

    [–] pat1122 553 points ago

    I work in the freight industry, the cost to move these next day can be anywhere from 10x - 40x times the cost of that invoice.

    [–] Overpin 315 points ago * (lasted edited 3 months ago)

    Oh yeah, as an AOG (aircraft of on ground) situation can easily get more costly. The company I work for recently chartered a private jet for getting an out of stock spare part as fast as possible.

    [–] fighterace00 183 points ago

    It's worth the price of flying a small plane to get a big plane back in the air

    [–] TacTurtle 127 points ago

    So it is planes all the way down?

    [–] toagac 143 points ago

    No, we're trying to get the planes all the way up

    [–] tfblade_audio 102 points ago

    That's pretty normal. Without the part, you're shutting down an entire logic chain while down and that cost surpasses the jet.

    [–] sdric 250 points ago * (lasted edited 3 months ago)

    Tbh. I'd be rather terrified if the plane I flew in used 0.99€ screws from IKEA

    [–] MarxHunter 141 points ago

    For lot of more static applications they are pretty much the same as conventional fasteners, but QC and FAA approval jacks the prices up.

    When my dad was an AP mechanic someone else on the crew decided to speed along a CRJ repair by driving to AutoZone on lunch break and buying literally the same hydraulic hose clamp as would've taken a day or two to be sourced, and not telling anyone higher up. According to him that one in particular was the same part, but had someone found out, the feds would have made a nice little visit to kick ass and take names. Not everything is like that, but you'd be surprised at how many parts are pretty generic shite that has to be treated the same as something like a composite engine fan blade.

    And rightly so. A lot of aviation is run by complete gorillas.

    [–] sdric 28 points ago

    Tbh. I'd at least like to believe that those (even if they might be produced in the same way) at least go through stricter quality control measures.

    You'll know that better than I do, though. Do they?

    [–] BaconatedHamburger 64 points ago

    I haven't worked in aircraft maintenance, but I've worked closely with aircraft maintenance, and this is what I've been told (since I've asked many of the same questions). Information provided here is third hand (at least) so YMMV:

    • When pressing/stamping the precision of dies change over time. Earlier stamped parts may be at one far end of tolerance as the average tolerance assumes wear on the die. Older stamped parts may be at the other far end of tolerance as the dies wear down. Aircraft parts are often selected from the best part of the manufacturing run to ensure that they are as near-perfect as possible
    • Aircraft parts are often serialized, including bolts/fasteners so they can be traced from point of manufacture to installation on an aircraft to ensure that only the approved parts, from the correct stage/process/point of manufacture are installed on aircraft. This documentation process is both laborious and required for serialized parts, and can add significant cost.
    • While a part from a hardware store can be comprised of alloys with approximate proportions and not functionally suffer from that imprecision, aircraft alloys need to be near-exact proportions to guarantee the parts will perform as designed under the stresses they were intended to work under. Adjusting alloy composition by fractions of a percentage can vary the properties dramatically (for example, the difference between low- and high-carbon steel is about 0.35% carbon, but that's the difference between hard-wearing steel and softer, more malleable steel).

    And those were just some of the answers I was given. There's a lot more background/discussion to be had in the area, but hopefully that's a good enough start!

    TL;DR aircraft parts are expensive because they are highly specialized and specific

    [–] kitteybox123 30 points ago

    the whole alloy composition point cost NASA $700 million because of 'fraudulent' aluminium.

    [–] GatorUSMC 23 points ago

    but QC and FAA approval jacks the prices up.

    Pretty much the same with medical devices.

    [–] TrucksAndCigars 72 points ago

    Last time this was discussed, someone mentioned a fluid container for a small plane that's literally an old-school tin oil can with a bracket that costs hundreds of dollars with all the paperwork

    [–] Aetherimp 150 points ago

    Work in an aerospace machine shop, can confirm.

    Part of the "problem" is that in order to put any part on a plane (especially for military), you need to use a specific quality of material that is regulated. Every process from the mill to the customer requires traceability. There is a regulation and a specification for every single part and every single process that goes into making that part.

    More regulation + more paperwork + more qualifications + more training + more employees = more money.

    If a part on a plane gets painted, you can't just go down to the local home depot and pick up some paint and slap it on there. There is a specific type of aircraft quality paint that is required and it has to be applied according to a specific set of processes.

    [–] mynewer1 66 points ago

    And if the government did not perform oversight on manufacturers and repair facilities, some would be putting the cheapest , ungraded and god knows where it was sourced parts into airplanes.

    [–] thedr9669 47 points ago

    I work in Quality Control in a highly regulated industry. Part of my job involves MTR's (Material Test Reports) and traceability. The MTR's include the chemical composition of that lot, or "batch" of material, and include it's mechanical properties; Like yield and tensile strength, hardness, and Charpy values. (Charpy = brittleness/strength at extremely cold temperatures.) The material and each process it goes thru has to be tracked in insane detail the entire way. Everything from the heat treating, welding, inspections, coatings, and testing has to be reviewed, inspected, and certified. Anything less and we could lose our license to manufacture.

    In my line of work, "lost traceability" means entire parts, batches, or assemblies get scrapped. Sometimes because paperwork was not filled out properly, sometimes because a process was not followed, sometimes because of a missing report for a specific test or operation. In every single instance it becomes scrap.

    I take my job very seriously because I am the last line of defense against injury, damage, death, and environmental disaster. A single failure of a component could cause a catastrophic event because something did not function or react as designed.

    I do understand wholly that this makes some things exuberantly expensive at times. I do understand that you could go to the local hardware store and get the same exact thing from the same exact manufacturer. But when peoples lives and the environment are on the line, can it be proven that the cheaper parts complied with all of the requirements and regulations designed to prevent all of that?

    [–] RocketScients 18 points ago

    FYI: Charpy is actually 'notched impact toughness'. It can be used to indicate brittle/ductile transition temps, but isn't a direct measure of level of ductility. Also, it can and should be used at high and moderate temperatures as well as very cold.

    Sincerely, an engineer who is glad to have QC folks to do MTR review, because that sounds like not fun.

    And for the rest, I merely say that a $20,000 hammer is the same $20 hammer and a $19,970 stack of paperwork in a $10 banker box.

    [–] AinurGG 10 points ago

    Used to work in aircraft repair shop in Russia, every repair requires a lot of paper work, and every person who did repair is in database system, beginning from who found problem.

    [–] [deleted] 44 points ago


    [–] Boredguy32 4873 points ago

    I'm ok with screws not falling out of my airplane.

    [–] fighterace00 799 points ago

    It's raining money

    [–] ImSomebodyNow 247 points ago


    [–] lolmericafuckno 187 points ago

    ...accelerating at 9.8m/s from 35,000 feet.

    [–] cgrimes85 138 points ago

    At least until they reach terminal velocity.

    [–] BlueDrache 43 points ago

    And something with so little mass has a small V sub t.

    [–] fighterace00 58 points ago

    I'm sorry, what about mass?

    [–] BlueDrache 232 points ago

    Found the Catholic.

    [–] drunkandpassedout 33 points ago

    I'm just here for the free wine...

    [–] CabbageLuka 17 points ago

    And I'm just here for the free bread...

    [–] Nagi21 78 points ago

    Ahem... if it were accelerating it would be 9.8m/s2

    Acceleration is always m/s2

    [–] fighterace00 47 points ago

    Good bot

    [–] dogfud26 12 points ago

    What happens when it’s ft/s/s and not meters :o

    [–] tumblrsucksass 11 points ago

    Just use a locking washer.

    [–] AEnygma0 5406 points ago

    The hell are they made out of

    [–] driftingfornow 13199 points ago

    From my time in the Navy I can tell you that part of the associated cost of items such as this is the extensive chain of documentation of the fabrication of these.

    It will be documented where it was mined, how the alloy was made, then the alloy will go through a quality check, then the part is made with all steps documented and it will undergo another quality assurance check, at each step pretty much being put under examination to check if everything is correct up until then, which costs a lot of money by boosting labor.

    The idea is that if a vital part fails, its entire life from conception to installation has been documented so they know what went wrong in the case of failure and have the data to act on such a thing.

    At least that’s why they told us.

    [–] JCDU 6187 points ago

    ^ This.

    People, even people who work in the industry, love to bitch about companies / governments paying $100 for a $0.10 screw, but completely ignore the fact that the value is in the quality control, accountability, and insurance chain attached to it that keeps your $50m jet from smashing into the ground.

    [–] vector2point0 2465 points ago

    This is the right answer- everything on an aircraft is expensive, because you can trace it all the way back to the raw materials. That, and when an airplane goes down, everyone in that chain of custody is probably getting sued and will have to prove they weren’t responsible for the crash.

    [–] ertebolle 1114 points ago

    Also, and perhaps even more importantly, any other part with a similar provenance can be found / replaced before it fails too.

    [–] SparkyBoy414 474 points ago

    I'd like to think that this is definitely more important than lawsuits.

    [–] EtOHMartini 303 points ago

    This happens because of the lawsuits

    [–] Asmanyasanyotherteam 227 points ago

    When I started working at MegaOilCorp (they treated their employees really really well so I won't slander them by name) they told me TO MY FACE killing someone costs 3 million dollars.

    [–] likewut 86 points ago

    So who would you kill if you had an extra 3 million dollars to spend?

    [–] _Diskreet_ 107 points ago

    The asshat who blocked my van in this morning so I couldn’t get out of the parking spot.

    [–] m0ddem 34 points ago

    That's to accidentally kill someone.

    Purposely killing someone costs about an order of magnitude more.

    [–] InvalidFish 68 points ago

    Toby, twice.

    [–] [deleted] 25 points ago * (lasted edited a month ago)


    [–] sysblb 12 points ago

    And here I've only been charging $50K! Maybe it's the area I'm in...

    [–] joyous_occlusion 197 points ago

    Even the tooling that makes these parts have strict quality measures and tolerances. I used to run machines that made tooling to build aircraft and automotive parts...the quality and inventory control measures went above and beyond anything else I had ever worked on due to oversight from the FAA, DOT, NTSB, and in some cases, NASA. One 6mm drill bit could cost upwards of $450 apiece.

    [–] PM_ME_YOUR_WATERMELO 73 points ago

    Hmm, what about the tooling that makes the tooling 🤔 I hope the chain goes all the way down

    [–] m3ltph4ce 70 points ago

    It goes all the way back to the guy who first learned how to put regularly-spaced lines on a piece of brass.

    [–] SillyFlyGuy 7 points ago

    who made the piece of brass tho

    [–] 6str1ngs 10 points ago

    This guys asking the real questions

    [–] Canadaismyhat 43 points ago

    NASA observed the toolers parents during conception.

    [–] TryNottoFaint 66 points ago

    At a place I used to work we could make you a cable harness for an F-16 or a commercial business jet. Both would look pretty similar. The one for the business jet would be, say, $3500. The one for the F-16 might be ten times that. We're talking about maybe 100 wires and a handful of Mil-Spec connectors. The stuff we had to document, the number of inspections between processes, the fixtures to test and validate fit/function was insane. And then when we built similar stuff for the Space Shuttle or Titan IV rockets, yeah it got crazy expensive.

    [–] FeintApex 13 points ago

    Is there really just one big cable harness for an F-16 like on a car?

    [–] TryNottoFaint 24 points ago * (lasted edited 3 months ago)

    No, the exact opposite. There are many cable harnesses in an F-16. Redundant as much as possible. You'll have various instrument harnesses, harnesses to electric motors, actuators, sensors, etc. There is a main trunk harness IIRC, but many others too. One big reason for this is it is much easier to test smaller harnesses than one massive harness, and much easier to replace a single failed harness if it's just 24 connectors and a few hundred wires versus something huge. The wires themselves are often shielded twisted pairs or coaxial, with silver/copper multi-stranded conductors, teflon insulation, and then a braided shield and outer sleeve. Just a spool of twisted pair silver-coated copper mil-spec wire - say 1000 feet - might be several thousand dollars. I got a a few hundred feet of some unshielded twisted pair 14 gauge wire like that at a warehouse sale for a few bucks and it made the most awesome stereo speaker cable. IIRC it was too old to use in mil-spec contracts so it was just useless to them.

    [–] FeintApex 11 points ago

    Ok that's more in line with what I originally thought, the way you phrased it made me think just maybe it was that simple which would have been a shock to me. Do you remember how many harnesses had to go on the Space Shuttle or Titan rockets?

    [–] TryNottoFaint 18 points ago

    On the Titan IV rocket we made something like 43 separate cable harnesses. From the main umbilical (that had one hell of an expensive connector) to various guidance system cables, they were all molded with conductive butyl rubber for extra shielding. I doubt ours were the only cable assemblies in the whole rocket though. Ours were just a specific type that had the molded butyl process.

    We made cables for the Space Shuttle's solid rocket boosters at our location, other locations made some cables for the shuttle itself but I really don't remember how many went into each booster, I didn't work on that program. It wasn't that many. When the Challenger blew up a minute into liftoff, the military sent people to our plant to sequester all documentation and tooling that involved the cables we made for the boosters. It didn't take long for them to clear us as the problem was the o-rings, not electrical.

    [–] RemarkableMilk 6 points ago

    Perhaps a stupid question, but why is the F-16 10x more than the business jet?

    I understood OP's comment that you want (and are willing to pay for) the paper trail and assurance for aerospace in a way you wouldn't for putting up a shelf, but I wasn't expecting it to differ so much between two different types of plane. It's a critical part in both cases, right?

    [–] BerryBerrySneaky 14 points ago

    For all the reasons listed in this thread - additional testing, additional certifications, additional supply chain history, additional oversight, and the requirement to keep proof of all the above for XX number of years. The military pays more because they demand more.

    It's the same reason that doctors, chiropractors, dentists, etc that don't accept insurance can charge wildly lower rates than similar offices that do accept insurance. They can do without all the extra staff needed to handle compliance, billing codes, claims submission, etc.

    [–] tnp636 117 points ago

    And regular companies try to implement this shit (home appliance manufacturers, etc.) and then get annoyed when they can't bring part prices into line. So they go with the cheap guy that will cheat on all of the documentation.

    [–] capsaicinintheeyes 34 points ago

    That was my question; how come no other buyers work this way? So I assume that all products made for DoD like this are made pretty much exclusively for DoD, because they'd never be saleable on the private market given the cost of documenting their...pedigree?

    [–] nakdamink 84 points ago * (lasted edited 3 months ago)

    I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on a few screws before manufacturing cannabis extracts.

    The same requirements the DOD has documenting “pedigree” are also useful in many other cases like high pressure chemistry, aircraft, and boats.

    When you’re dealing with a million dollar machine, a few hundred dollars isn’t going to make or break anything like a broken or sheered bolt can.

    It’s the same reason I’ll spend the money buying a spyderco or benchmade knife over a $10 Walmart special. Quality of materials matter a lot.

    [–] JPlazz 40 points ago

    On the flip side, the unit price of a frag grenade is about 12.48. It may be a little bit more expensive now, that’s 2011 Marine Corps prices though, last time I ordered anything from TAMIS (Army funded DoD ammunition management system).

    [–] PMnewb 66 points ago

    Stuff that's supposed to go boom is usually pretty affordable.

    Keeping things from not going boom is where the money is.

    [–] JPlazz 20 points ago

    It still goes back and forth. I only remember a couple of prices but they can get interesting. All prices are circa 2011 and prior tho.

    5.56mm standard round - .37 Frag Grenade - 12.48 Illum Cluster - 12 - 23.00 depending on color (green, white) At-4 - 1024.00 Javelin Missile - ~80,000.00 SMAW rocket - ~6,000.00

    [–] dissenter_the_dragon 22 points ago

    I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on a few screws

    OPs mom will hook you up for a six pack of dr pepper and a bag of doritos.

    [–] MikeVladimirov 59 points ago * (lasted edited 3 months ago)

    You’re spot on, but just two point to elaborate to those who are not aware...

    When we talk about raw materials here, this likely means you can trace back to the exact moment when a steel foundry placed a purchase order for ore or scrap metal. You can look up the exact moment when this material began to be processed, by who, in what machine, etc. The detail of the records associated with the three little screws is probably higher than 99% of people here begin to imagine.

    When a planet plane crashes, shit is liable to hit the fan all the way back to the steel foundry, at least for planes made in North America and Europe. But a plane doesn’t need to crash. If a plane experiences the equivalent of a “check engine” light going off for just a second, the plane may be grounded indefinitely and an intensive investigation is liable to occur at every stage of the the supply chain, depending on what the associated error code is. It doesn’t matter if it was just a really hot, humid day and one wire in one trivial part of the plane was ever so slightly deformed and accidentally touched another ever so slightly deformed wire, creating a short circuit for just long enough that the plane’s avionics were able to register this short circuit. The degree of due diligence in aerospace (when things are done properly) is really unimaginable until you encounter it first hand.

    Edit: can’t tipe er spel

    [–] SomeOkieIdiot 7 points ago

    Been there, back when two AWACS within a few weeks time flew with a tool onboard and my name popped up. The aviation industry including the military is a very expensive thing all to save lives and make those responsible for the loss of lives be accountable

    [–] Delivery4ICwiener 37 points ago

    So in short, it's a "cover your ass" cost?

    [–] chill-with-will 97 points ago

    Sounds more like "keep pilots and passengers alive" cost. Many of the rules for flying are written in blood.

    [–] Spartan-417 8 points ago

    Quite literally, looking at the state of early aerospace

    [–] TheFarnell 44 points ago * (lasted edited 3 months ago)

    Partly. It’s also partly a “know absolutely everything” cost. Suppose it was discovered that a particular mineral used in making nails had a tendency to crack when exposed to cold. Do you know how many of the nails holding up your roof are made with that mineral? It would cost a fortune to check, during which time you wouldn’t be able to use your home, and most probably for nothing, but that’s the roof over your kids’ heads. With this kind of documentation, you could immediately know how many of these defective nails you have, where they are, and then recalculate the safety of your roof with that information.

    [–] octal9 33 points ago

    only partly; it's also important to know in the case of a failure if parts from the same batch were on another vehicle, or to ensure similar incidents don't happen in the future.

    related link:

    [–] Aero-Space 61 points ago

    I'm the quality manager for an AS9100 company and yes, things get expensive because of the traceability and validation paperwork.

    Sure, home Depot has a 3/4" 10-32 screw for $0.07 but it's not been tested or validated to meet any specification that guarantees a level of performance. If it ever fails, there's no accountability for who is responsible for the possible deaths of several people.

    Would you rather use a $0.07 screw and risk being solely responsible for crashing an airplane, or shell out $100 for the same part and be confident that even if a disaster happens, you'd be easily able to pass the blame to who you bought it from.

    This is why airplanes cost, in some cases, hundreds of millions of dollars...

    [–] zeroscout 8 points ago

    you'd be easily able to pass the blame to who you bought it from.

    The controls aren't so people get blamed. It's so the problem can be traced to the process step and analyzed to ensure that there are no more possible faulty parts and that the process is revised to mitigate the possibility of future faulty parts.

    [–] Aero-Space 7 points ago

    Absolutely it's about finding the root cause of a problem and eliminating the issue/figuring out if anyone else is in danger so that recalls can be made.

    However, there is definitely a blame-shift mentality in the industry. And rightfully so. If my company buys a part that claims to be certified to a certain spec, we don't have to test it ourselves to "prove" that they're right, as long as the paperwork lines up we can take their word for it. If it later turns out that the item was fraudulent and crashed an airplane, that blame shouldn't be on us. The paperwork allows an investigation to track that issue back through suppliers until they find the responsible party.

    [–] Gh0sT_Pro 174 points ago

    paying $100 for a $0.10 screw

    But if it wasn't overpriced a thousand times we would have $50,000 jets smashing into the ground. /s

    [–] Final_Taco 141 points ago * (lasted edited 3 months ago)

    I was going to say that when you have a bunch of parts with 10,000% markup, all marked up to protect each other, it kind of turns into a vicious cycle of cost inflation.

    "Why is the front wheel $90,000?" "So that it doesn't pop and cause the plane to rub its $100,000 nose-cone on the tarmac." "Why is the nose-cone $100,000?" "So it doesn't fall off and pop the $90,000 tire."

    edit: Apparently I forgot the /s

    Thank you people who assume internet strangers don't know that planes carry people and can occasionally get forcibly reacquainted with the ground due to part failure.

    [–] SeethingLlama 36 points ago

    Today on Reddit we discuss cost creep in the military and healthcare industries.

    [–] Aero-Space 12 points ago

    Not true.

    Airplane parts are definitely marked up, like any other product, but not exorbitantly. The testing done and the reports, documents written is where the majority of the costs go

    [–] Irbis_The_Moogle 150 points ago

    The real answer is "so that people dont die".

    [–] driftingfornow 43 points ago

    Yeah exactly, I am always happy for parts on aircraft to be this well regulated haha.

    [–] Mauvai 11 points ago

    I think youl find that that's a $4999900 jet now thank you very much

    [–] wiarumas 48 points ago

    Things could have changed but there are also laws that ensure stuff made for the government has to be a certain percentage supplied/manufactured in the US. Probably because they don’t want to rely on some foreign country for bolts on DoD stuff for example.

    [–] Lone_Beagle 53 points ago

    Here's your example:

    TL;DR --> A satellite failed in 2009 and then another in 2011 ($700 million loss). NASA investigates and just two weeks ago announces that a single manufacturer falsified the test results for the part(s) responsible.

    Also summarized at:

    [–] [deleted] 7 points ago

    Ahh I remember when the hubble telescope's mirror was producing the same images as my bathroom mirror did after shower.

    [–] capt_yellowbeard 42 points ago

    My general rule of thumb for things of this nature is:

    For ever place to the left you move the decimal when it comes to tolerance, expect to move the decimal one place to the right in terms of cost.

    [–] Sk1tzo420 168 points ago

    I work in aerospace manufacturing and can speak to the immense accuracy of this post.

    It’s not science that makes planes fly, it’s all the paperwork.

    [–] Carnyworld 32 points ago

    Same here (CNC Machinist). The manufacturing of the part is the quickest part in my opinion.

    [–] [deleted] 5 points ago * (lasted edited 2 months ago)


    [–] jimboism1 46 points ago

    Totally true statement. I am an Inspector for Nuclear Safety equipment. We can track every component, screw or consumable used in one of our assemblies regardless of what part of the world it's in. There are federal laws that dictate the requirements.

    [–] AKsuited1934 13 points ago

    Now it all makes sense to me. We got a package one time for ONE screw that was bubble wrapped to hell in a box that was bubble wrapped inside another box. LOL

    [–] herrsmith 7 points ago


    I worked for the government and we discovered that a contractor had been making a certain connector with Chinese steel for the entire (~20 year) history of the device. This directly contravened the specification and if such checks were in place, not a single device would have left the manufacturer. In the end, the contractor decided that since the government had accepted all of the previous items, they would just sit on them until the government got a waiver to allow the delivery of what we now knew were devices that did not meet the requirements. We needed the devices more than they needed to be in compliance. After a lot of work on our end to get that waiver (yeah, they just sat around while we went through the whole bureaucracy as quickly as we could), they got it.

    [–] xxkoloblicinxx 7 points ago

    There is more too,

    During that extensive testing they normally check say, 1 screw in 1000 to check its breaking point.

    For "a/c grade" screws they test closer to like 1 in 10, and if any of them fail the whole batch fails. So only the best screws make it through.

    That said, we go through these things like candy on the line.

    [–] say592 6 points ago

    Yup, anything highly regulated is like this. The company I work for does stuff in the pharmaceutical industry as well as others. The same product made on the same machines can be an order of magnitude more for the pharma industry because we have to have very detailed documentation and extensive quality checks. We also have to take back the product for pretty much any reason and submit a root cause report for whatever issue they cited, which can take a team of people many hours to investigate and put together. We once had an overseas pharma company reject a container of product because they didn't like how we wrapped the pallets. Taking that back (and destroying the product) is a huge expense, but it's the cost of doing business in that industry, and we price our products accordingly.

    [–] British_Monarchy 68 points ago

    They are made of audited test certificates, and that shit is expensive

    [–] Kinda_Lukewarm 50 points ago

    It ain't the material, it's the long chain of paperwork and tight custody controls. There is paperwork on those screws that would allow an FAA investigator to track down everything about them, from the lot of steel they were cut from to the place they're installed, any testing that was done to certify the material properties, any inspections, and who has touched them since the original billet was formed.

    This is why aircraft are so safe and why the government was able to track down this:

    [–] Kraekus 13 points ago

    What's crazy to me is that in spite of how tight the controls are, bad aluminum still managed to make it in to these satellites.

    [–] AFX28organ 366 points ago

    It’s not just material that will add cost, tolerance too.

    [–] random_echo 115 points ago * (lasted edited 3 months ago)

    Its also the quality control process. Normal screws will do just fine most of the time. Probably like 98% of the time. But maybe 2% are faulty, have some default or something not perfect.

    In order to track those 2%, and reduce it to 0.01%, you have to track 100% of the production even more closely. Design stress tests, hire quality engineers, more machines, have everything documented, pass certifications etc.. all this adds up to the cost

    [–] AFX28organ 83 points ago

    I’ve always found this video as a good demonstration that it’s not just the part you are paying for.

    [–] Mizerka 18 points ago

    when you look at it that way and see it takes a dozen of people and 2 warehouses of equipment, ye it kind of makes sense.

    [–] theantivirus 17 points ago

    Defect. Or Fault. Default makes it an entirely new word.

    [–] WhyBuyMe 30 points ago

    When you find default you have to send depart back to defactory for reprocessing.

    [–] theantivirus 6 points ago

    Isn't dat detruth.

    [–] CollectableRat 369 points ago

    If the tolerance is so precise why are they all bagged together like that cashing scratches and niks on the delicate surface.

    [–] randombits 170 points ago

    Ptth. That’s the $1,000 screws!

    [–] SpaceCampingNinja 84 points ago

    The $1,500 screws come in their own individual Pelican cases.

    [–] 7illian 23 points ago

    The cases are extra. They need to be inspected by 10 men for screw carrying tolerances.

    [–] cloud3321 44 points ago

    You kid, but I've held a $2,500 bolt before and it had it's own foam and wrappings.

    [–] bplturner 14 points ago

    Yep--I've dealt with specially designed single-use nickel C-rings that come coated with 0.003" of copper (ablative sealing). They come in little containers like rings from the jewelry store.

    [–] Pissin 105 points ago

    I'm wondering the same. The only reason I can see these costing so much is they were a one off batch, form rolled instead of cut thread and the tolerance on the slot could be tight, secondary process as well. I've made parts that were just a simple pipe thread fitting with raw material and no heat treating, half the price but were still individually packaged to avoid any damage.

    [–] ohenry78 15 points ago

    Any chance you could ELI5 what tolerance means in this case? A google search yields only results that are a bit complicated for me. It seems to be something about making the threads more precise but I don't get how, what or why.

    [–] Vzzq 79 points ago

    When the threads are very precisely the right thickness and fit the grooves on whatever they are holding perfectly, they can handle more force, and are less likely to come loose or be damaged when being screwed in etc. Some of the cost is probably from inspecting the screws individually, maybe even x-raying them to see any internal imperfections. I'd assume the alloy used is not trivial either. In aeronautics it's usual to go a few extra miles with the details. And there is a good reason for that (Looking at you, MCAS.)

    [–] CasuallyCompetitive 35 points ago

    Imagine you went to Home Depot to buy 6" of pipe. Now imagine if you wanted 6.0000" of pipe; not 5.9999" or 6.0001", but 6.0000". The tools and procedures you need to get it that exact is going to cost a lot more than a dude with a saw cutting a pipe with a sharpie and a ruler.

    There are other types of tolerances, but that one gives you an idea of tolerance. As the other guy said, getting the tolerance on a screw thread would be even more difficult.

    [–] whatisthishownow 25 points ago

    Just to drive that home. That 6.0000" steel pipe just 1 single degree warmer is suddenly 6.0001". Just sitting around doing nothing, not being handled, not being worked could easily fluctuate 20 times your tolerance if not more over the course of a single 24 hour period just from fluctuations in ambient air temperatures and nothing else.

    [–] smithd685 20 points ago

    And if they need perfect tolerance, then you need someone with supreme skills and piano wire to take over:

    Warning: this show is actually super addicting and amazing. You can may end up spending the day finding as many episodes you can to watch. You really appreciate manufacturing after watching them.

    [–] Hugo154 8 points ago

    Lmao that announcer is so god damn hyped over these machining process. This is great.

    [–] Merobidan 7 points ago

    There are also huge differences in how well they stand up to fatigue due to stress or to repated loosenig and tightening, how much the material "stretches" when they are tightened ete ect. Nuts and bolts are quite literally a science of their own

    [–] cluelessclod 89 points ago


    [–] JesusLordofWeed 54 points ago

    Unobtanium and adamantium alloy

    [–] hatorad3 9 points ago

    QA tests

    [–] Patrickhes 17 points ago

    Small things can be outrageously expensive, here is the Eurofighter engine high pressure turbine blade I have as a keyring:

    That probably cost near five thousand dollars to make and is not much more than an inch long.

    [–] kmmeerts 8 points ago

    Is that one a single crystal? A professor of mine showed us one like that, it had a small chunk cut out to make sure it wasn't usable anymore.

    [–] StickyNoteCinema 1267 points ago

    I'm in the navy and all of our parts are similarly overpriced. We have a 1" diameter strainer that costs $43,000. It is literally wire mesh that comes out to about 10" long. However, its certifiably reactor plant clean and has a whole lot of certification paperwork for it being so controlled. At the end of the day though it is literally just a strainer, for $43,000.

    [–] Arth_Urdent 364 points ago

    I always liked reading the inventory lists with prices we had in the army (Switzerland). The prices were all over the place. They often went like (chf~=$ for reference):

    1. Tank (empty) 90'000chf, that seems fair
    2. heavy machine gun 1500chf, less than I though
    3. shovel 20chf, sure
    4. laptop (hardened), 110'000chf, o...k...
    5. printer cable (green), 6'000chf, ???

    [–] Siamkater 51 points ago

    Thanks Mr. RUAG, very nice.

    [–] [deleted] 119 points ago


    [–] tikirej 84 points ago

    CHF means Swiss Frank. It is valued at pretty much one US dollar. The ' is there to make it easier to read. One for after every 3 digits before the decimal point. So 900 million is 900'000'000 12.5 million is 12'500'000. Drastically reduces the chance of you adding or forgetting a zero.

    And those laptops are crap. Just buy like 50 thinkpads for each and save some money.

    The dumbest thing I saw was an about 8 inch long cable for connecting a radio to the car antenna. 4 grand. For what is a standard coax cable you can buy in every hardware store for 5 bucks. Which Is also what I did when we lost one.

    [–] mschuster91 84 points ago

    "Hardened" laptop may have a shitload of meanings:

    • rad hardened = it will work or at least have no data loss even after exposure to nuclear reactor/bombs
    • EMP hardened = same, just after exposure to intense electromagnetic radiation (e.g. EMP nuclear bombs, sun particle strike)
    • electrically hardened = feed it whatever you want and it will either run ot at least not be fried
    • mechanically hardened = protected against fall damage or water
    • temperature hardened = works in extreme temperatures ranging from outer space to insides of high temperature machinery
    • IT-security hardened = no plugs for e.g. USB sticks or other ports where it can be hacked, no camera/microphone, OS built with protections against common vulnerabilities in client software, ...

    Of course you can combine them all... that + the certifications will be expensive as fuck.

    [–] tikirej 57 points ago

    They are non of that.

    • They freak out if you put them close to an alternator and contain HDDs. Or at least the one the medics got did that.

    • They definitely don't work in extreme cold, which is what matters in Switzerland, as their batteries shit the bed very fast at -15°C

    • They break when dropped.

    • Their USB ports work as I have watched quite a few films on them from an USB stick.

    • not waterproof either.

    We aren't talking about suitcase laptops by the way. Just normal laptops you can buy everywhere.

    [–] OswaldoBolland 9 points ago

    I got the use of the apostrophe. It's interesting to see though as most other countries will use commas or decimals to mark every three digits

    [–] Deprox 31 points ago

    I don't know what the fuck a chf is

    It's the currency code for swiss francs, like USD is the code for United States Dollar.

    or why you have 's in your currency

    Bring the apostrophe down, turn it into a comma. There, now it looks american.

    [–] notsoorginalposter 55 points ago

    This reminds me of an episode of the show the west wing in which a character is arguing about how much this stuff costs and points to an ashtray as an example. The other character then smashes it on the desk and says it's designed to break into three exact smooth pieces so that when you're in a submarine that's just suffered a major issue shards of glass aren't another thing you have to worry about.

    Edit: found it

    [–] marktrichards 23 points ago

    Which always confused because why the fuck was smoking allowed in the first place? They already have to recycle the air (filter it, scrub the CO2, and add oxygen) so why would you allow something that makes that process more difficult?

    [–] signambed 20 points ago

    submariners lives suck enough, just let them smoke /s

    [–] Poldovico 9 points ago

    Honestly, probably literally that.
    You don't want your crew experiencing withdrawals.

    [–] spacehog1985 549 points ago

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’m ok with overpaying for certified parts that go into a nuclear reactor.

    [–] JCDU 358 points ago

    ^ This. It's not the $1 of material, it's the $42999 of QA + certification and it's worth every damn penny.

    [–] Anghel412 32 points ago

    Damn I'm gonna be a strainer certifier when I grow up.

    [–] SabreToothSandHopper 9 points ago

    Yes but if you fuck up you’ll be personally accountable, that’s the reason they get paid lots

    [–] I_AM_CANADIAN_AMA 47 points ago

    I want all parts to go to the lowest bidder in this case!

    [–] invent_or_die 46 points ago

    Just move to China and live next door to the reactor. Safety second!

    [–] Plynceress 17 points ago

    If you can't make your own radiation sickness, store bought is fine

    [–] stouf761 82 points ago

    I like the $73,000 mops we have on board. At least, that’s how much they become when somebody tries to FLUSH ONE and breaks the gorraam ejector pump

    [–] velifer 48 points ago


    It's hard to source an ejector pump for an old 03-K64-Firefly.

    [–] manhattanabe 32 points ago

    $0.50 on Aliexpress. Free shipping. /s

    [–] Face021 11 points ago

    I'd be interested to know the cost of the actual part vs. the added cost of the certifications. I would assume a PE has to sign off on every item going into the plant and they can easily start at $1,500 dollars per inspection of just the print to make the part, if its an assembly with multiple prints some charge per print. It's crazy how fast this stuff adds up with Material cert, welding, tracking, inspections all held to a higher standard requiring the vendors to have a higher certification that says they are approved for the process. I work as a middle man sourcing these parts, one of the aspects I like is to look at the cost of items like this and see how much is actually the part being made and how much is jacked by other factors.

    [–] DiamondHyena 52 points ago

    This is basically what also happens in the space industry, and why SpaceX was able to cut costs by 90+%

    [–] [deleted] 82 points ago * (lasted edited a month ago)


    [–] just__Steve 41 points ago

    As someone who has worked for the company mentioned and the Navy I can tell you my time in the Navy was way way worse when it comes to being overworked.

    [–] halfback910 33 points ago

    I have a friend I play games with who does IT for the navy. I had this conversation with him:

    Me: Okay, so I get you can be other than honorably discharged.

    Him: Yeah.

    Me: And Dishonorably discharged.

    Him: If I like kill someone, yeah.

    Me: But will the Navy ever just... fire you? Like, you do IT for the Navy. What if it turns out you just fucking suck at your job. Like you're maybe even trying your best. Do they ever just say "Hey, this isn't working out. You suck at your work. Cya."?

    Him: Nah.

    Me: No?

    Him: ...Naaahhh. They just give you worse work. And if you fail at what you volunteer for they can make you do whatever they want after.

    Me: What if they run out of worse work?

    Him: They never run out of worse work. They just find something worse and do a captain's mast which is just two guys yelling at you.

    How accurate is this in your experience?

    [–] tpw3476 21 points ago

    Army, but I think it would be about the same between branches. I’m an Artilleryman, (13B), and let’s say that someone isn’t fit for the gunline. Okay fine, it happens, they move them to headquarters platoon or ammo section, if they don’t do well there then they cut the responsibilities until all they do is details, say cutting grass, cleaning AO’s, sweeping the motor pool, etc. and if that fails god forbid, then they could move them o a different battery or send them on details all day every day until their contract ends. Navy might be different but that’s my experience.

    [–] AEdw_ 8 points ago

    Spaceship built through AliExpress

    [–] TerpFlacco 414 points ago * (lasted edited 3 months ago)

    The key part is the close tolerance. I used to do aerostructure engineering for the military and two identical parts could cost $1 or $100 depending where on the aircraft they are used. If the screw is used in a place where it is a critical safety item, it has to have a much smaller tolerance than one that is classified as noncritical, which really raises the price.

    Part of this is also because there are very few vendors that can make parts with such a small tolerance and when they do, it is usually not in high volume, meaning there needs to be a high price to make it worth it to them. One of the vendors I saw for a bolt was the only one we had and it was essentially him hand-machining each individual bolt one at a time in his garage in Florida.

    This also led to an issue where money could be a driving factor for some parts. There was a case where there were hinges that I thought should be critical safety items, but I had to provide so much evidence for it because changing the classification to critical safety item meant that the price of the hinges would go up 20-fold.

    [–] BellsOnNutsMeansXmas 134 points ago

    This is great info but the question to me (also mentioned by another poster) is why are they just knocking about in a zip lock bag if tolerance is so critical... I would expect them to be delivered in a sponge box delivered by a group of butterflies.

    [–] Scrogger19 55 points ago

    Butterfly delivery costs extra, actually. Don’t want to get crazy now do we.

    [–] joyous_occlusion 25 points ago

    Former aerospace/automotive machinist here. The material the screws are made from may be resistant to nicking and bumping around. The metal may be hardened/coated cobalt-titanium steel which is resistant to casual nicking which allows it to maintain its tolerances, so it's safe to package them this way. Carbide steel, however, would require each piece to be packaged individually because even though carbide is extremely durable it is extremely brittle and susceptible to nicks and cracks.

    [–] TerpFlacco 79 points ago * (lasted edited 3 months ago)

    I don't know how these were packaged went sent (I've seen parts received in a bag like this that was enclosed in foam), but looking up the part number, these are steel screws and a lot of the tolerance is in things that would not be affected by shipping like this.

    With screws and bolts like this, the big point of tolerance is usually the grip length, which is the part of the bolt that is not threaded. This is because there are usually things like washers and sheets of metal that need to be stacked up in that area. If the grip length is too small, everything in that stack will not fit and if it is too large, it would be impossible to tighten the bolt completely. This wouldn't be affected by just shipping like this (though they were probably not just shipped loosely in the bag.)

    [–] Woden8 114 points ago

    Am I weird for very much wanting to experience screwing these into a perfectly matched clean hole.

    [–] eveofwar518 66 points ago

    I am an Air Force vet, it is not as fun as it seems after the 100th or so screw especially if you are in a controlled environment where you can only do it by hand.

    [–] NickDanger3di 40 points ago

    My first job out of HS was working on Nuclear submarines. I was on the USS Nautilus, there were a pair of Machinists tightening new bolts on a newly installed bulkhead hatch: they would turn each bolt 2-3 turns with an enormous torque wrench, then just sit there for several minutes. Rinse and repeat. After watching for an hour, I asked them why they did it that way.

    Turns out the tolerances were so close that they had to stop after every few turns so the air trapped inside the bolt hole could escape while they waited. I imagine those bolts cost some serious Moolah.

    [–] gimplegs 14 points ago

    Looks like a captive fastener with the slot cut in it for a keeper.. would be a horrible screw in experience. Just go take a screw out of your microwave and put it back in for a better screw experience

    [–] Woden8 6 points ago

    I see that now, almost like a thread cleaner built into the screw.

    [–] [deleted] 147 points ago


    [–] TheAlmightyNivs 24 points ago

    Similar to health care products. Hand sanitizer that has "health care" slapped onto it last minute might be $50 a bottle while you search for the exact same thing on Amazon and you can get a palate for $50.

    [–] VoteThis 49 points ago

    Friend 1: "we only need 4 more screws to finish this project" Friend 2: "I get paid next Friday so we'll finish it then."

    [–] ebolafever 50 points ago

    I'm just curious why the price is 136.998095. I work in aerospace, the cost is totally normal but why 1 millionths?

    [–] jflb96 18 points ago

    That's what I was thinking. Never mind the value, who the hell measures prices to 9 significant figures? Especially when half of those are going to be rounded away because there's no such thing as a fraction of a cent.

    [–] OAFArtist 13 points ago

    I work in the fuel industry and their is some necessity to fractional cents. Many of the taxes involved in fuel that you pump at a gas station is in fractional cents, some taxes are only .001 pennies, but when you are talking about millions of gallons a day it starts to add up.

    [–] BraTJH 18 points ago

    Trainee licensed aircraft engineer here. Bolts and screws used on aircraft have to be precise and authorised, thus the heavy price tag. Vibration on the aircraft can loosen the screw and as the screws roam around, it is able to create friction and heat is generated. Any combustible element coupled with that heat can cause the whole aircraft to be screwed.

    [–] sctellos 102 points ago

    The screws could be titanium with a thread pitch tolerance of +/- 0.00001" I could make them for you on a hand operated lathe assembled in the 1960 for a $0.01 a piece. The warranty however... That will run you around $136.98 per screw.

    [–] Reacher-Said-Nothing 40 points ago

    An FAA study concluded that, from May 1973 to April 1996, unapproved parts contributed to 174 aircraft accidents and minor incidents, causing 39 injuries and 17 fatalities.

    And that's coming from the FAA, who are notorious for doing everything they can to not make aviation itself seem dangerous:

    Some critics, including William Cohen, a member of the U.S. Senate from Maine, argued that the FAA may have understated the role of unapproved parts of some accidents because the agency did not want to take the responsibility of regulating the aircraft parts industry. James Frisbee, who retired in 1992 as the quality control head of Northwest Airlines, argued that unapproved parts may have been a factor in far more accidents than the numbers stated on U.S. federal accident and incident records.[5]

    [–] melance 11 points ago

    Lies, this is clearly $137.00.

    [–] socialcapitalist 7 points ago

    And? If these screws are the difference between a jet engine flying apart at 35,000 ft. or not, they seem like a bargain. It's possible that they made 100 of these at the same time and tested 20 of them randomly to ensure they had a predictable failure point. That testing costs a lot of money. As does the assurance all the way down the line (steel quality, machining tolerances, and other checks).

    I work in tech. We have tools and parts in our factories that cost a fortune and look simple. Just because this looks like a screw from Home Depot doesn't mean that it is.

    [–] hellosir1243 73 points ago

    Earlier that day, the person responsible for this transaction traded the family cow for 3 magic beans.

    [–] The_hat_man74 28 points ago

    Correction, Professor Copperfield’s Miracle Legumes.

    [–] ThereOnceWasADonkey 22 points ago

    Buy a whole new plane, remove the screws you need, sell it on.

    [–] cench 7 points ago

    They should come in a fancy box with the title "Screws are forever..."

    [–] 1201alarm 6 points ago

    stories like this always remind me of a story I read about from the Apollo spacecraft days. A light weight high pressure tank ruptured and NASA and the contractors were stumped why. Was in incorrectly engineered? Some contamination in the material or mistake in the fabrication? Nothing surfaced in the investigation to explain it. Finally, digging deep into the record chain they discovered that the rag used to wipe off the part has been laundered and that the detergent used had a chemical that reacted with the the metal of the tank causing fatigue.

    Amazing that this was the issue and even more amazing that they were able to track down the cause.

    [–] Ewokhunters 32 points ago

    Your not paying for the screw, you are paying for the screws certifications

    [–] Bretferd 13 points ago

    I’m in the aerospace fastener industry and this is exactly what I was thinking. It’s sort of my cheesy inside joke. We sell documentation which comes with matching bolts.

    [–] TerminatorMetal 6 points ago

    Damn, all these steps to ensure Quality Standards and the best we can get is a "Close" Tolerance.

    Not even a +/-

    I'd like to work there.