"Critical" fasteners made after July 26, 1998 must be tested by an accredited laboratory or produced by an approved manufacturing plant. The deadline represents a 60-day extension of previous delays in implementing the Fastener Quality Act (FQA) of 1990. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has required extra time to complete its approval of some 450 testing labs needed to carry out the act. FQA sets up a national program to ensure that certain nuts, bolts, and other fasteners used in "critical situations"--such as the attachment of aircraft engines to fuselages--conform to specifications. The government, meanwhile, also has defined the in-process quality inspection systems that fastener manufacturers can use to test their lots for FQA compliance. Operators of such lines can be provisionally certified, but they must complete official certification by May 25, 1999.
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