100 years of aerospace standards

The aircraft industry is an area in which standards have played an essential part over the years, for both for civil and military purposes.  Aircraft such as the Vickers VC10 long-range airliner (remember them?) are made up of thousands of components, big and small.  As the development of a new aircraft already takes many years, it can be appreciated that without standardization of many of the basic parts, the task would be virtually impossible.

BSI has a long history of producing specs for transportation.  We have been producing standards for the electric rail and tramways from 1903 and road transport through the 1910’s, but the impact on British Standards in these areas was small compared to aeronautical specs appearing by the end of the First World War.  BSI’s Engineering Standards Committee took over the preparation and distribution of specs for the Air Board, as it was then called, in the last few months of the war.  The administration of the descendents of the Air Board Specs remains with BSI to this day.

Unique letter coding

The original Aerospace series had its own unique letter coding. Some of these standards are still current while others were gradually replaced by new standards with the BS prefix.  The S series for steel parts and the T series for titanium and titanium alloys were two of the most extensive, and new standards in these areas continued to appear through the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s.


The Z series on space technology, mainly focusing on space data and information transfer systems, started appearing in the 1990’s, and many of the were collaborations with ISO, or implementations of ISO standards.

What’s available in the Knowledge Centre?

BSI’s Knowledge Centre can provide access to withdrawn Aerospace Series standards going back almost 100 years. The original A1 Air Board standard for aircraft steel bolts and nuts, 1918 F1 specs for Linen Aero Plane Fabrics, Castor Oil standards for Aircraft Engine Lubrication from 1921, are some of the thousands of old specifications available.

Members can view withdrawn standards without charge in Chiswick, and they are available for purchase in hard copy and PDF. BSI members receive a 50% discount, free postage and can buy on account.

To find out more please contact the Knowledge Centre at: knowledgecentre@bsigroup.com or on +44 (0)20 8996 7004


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