Look at this 777 nose: enter image description here

Source: Airliners.net

It is full of rivets.Why are they so visible on this particular aircraft? Why doesn't the radome have rivets?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Looks like she's had a fresh coat of paint since then. $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Apr 9, 2016 at 1:32
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ The radome needs to be transparent to electromagnetic radiation, so it cannot be metallic, but is a composite shell. Bonding replaces riveting here. $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2016 at 6:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ A thin layer of paint? $\endgroup$
    – user7241
    Apr 9, 2016 at 16:21

1 Answer 1


At the risk of sounding ridiculous, the purpose of the rivets is to hold the plane together. More specifically, they hold the outer aluminum skin to the structural skeleton of the aircraft:
777 skeleton
(That skeleton happens to be made of manilla folders, but the real one is pretty much identical except that it's bigger and made of metal.)

There are also additional rivets around things like the AOA vane, holding doublers in place to stiffen the skin where these instruments penetrate and create additional load. The radome has no rivets as it is a single molded piece of plastic. It does however have structural stiffeners, which you can see running fore-to-aft in the photo.

You can see the rivets clearly on this particular aircraft because of the paint scheme (all white) and lighting, however if you look closely you can spot them on any 777 nose.
Here's one from an aircraft during assembly, and as the interior has not been installed you can also see the skeleton through the windscreen openings:
Rivets on a green 777 nose

  • 8
    $\begingroup$ I would also hazard to guess that this particular aircraft's paint job is nearing the end of its useful life and the rivets are showing paint wear. $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Apr 8, 2016 at 22:27
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ @JonathanWalters is probably right - these are all flush rivets. It's either bad paint, or weird lighting, or an HDR photo, or some combination. $\endgroup$
    – egid
    Apr 9, 2016 at 0:11

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