Sponsor Message:
Civil Aviation Forum
My Starred Topics | Profile | New Topic | Forum Index | Help | Search 
How Serious Is A Lighning Strike?  
User currently offlineAirtoday From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2000, 32 posts, RR: 0
Posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 4363 times:

How serious is a lightning strike to an aircraft during flight?

This morning I was arriving into Manchester (actually during descent over North Wales) on BD706 from ORD. The first thing I noticed was a feint smell of burning. I'm not sure if this was relevant but it had my senses heightened and I was alert. The next think there was a flash outside the port window ( I was sitting over the wing on the starboard side) followed immediately by a large bang and the plane shuddered. Then a flash outside my window around 20 seconds later and another shudder and bang. Then a 3rd flash and sparks flying past my window.

A pretty scary experience as I had never experienced anything like this before even though I am well travelled.

The plane landed safely and as far as I am aware there was no damage either.

So, was I lucky or is this a common occurrence?

30 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineEMBQA From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 9364 posts, RR: 11
Reply 1, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 4359 times:

Quoting Airtoday (Thread starter):
How serious is a lightning strike to an aircraft during flight?

I'd say 90% of the time a non event....sometimes the crew dosn't even know it's occured. The other 10% can cause issues. I've seen strike damage so bad it's blown holes in the fuselage and seriously damaged flight controls. Most damage looks like spot welding marks.... the flight controls, which most are composite now a days will cause delamination and burn marks. If you saw the flash, then heard the bang the plane was not hit. Just like on the ground the closer the flash and bang are together, the closer you are to the strike point. If you were hit it would all happen at once.

Port and Starboard..? what are we, on a boat....????

[Edited 2006-10-12 00:13:02]


"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
User currently offlineSabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 4354 times:

Quoting Airtoday (Thread starter):
How serious is a lightning strike to an aircraft during flight?

Well, I am the last person who has a clue about such things but once I experienced a lighning strike while sitting in a plane. I was flying CDG-JFK on an AF 744, approx. 20 minutes before we landed at JFK I heard a loud bang and the TV monitors started to flare for three or so seconds. People started to screem and I was guessing what was going on, seconds later I heard that the English guy next to me told his seat neighbor: "A lightning hit us". I was scared for a second but then I looked at the F/A's who didn't care at all, that gave me some feeling of "everything is ok". It was indeed, we touched down at JFK on time.

So is a lighning strike indeed harmless?

Patrick


User currently offlineEDDB From Germany, joined Aug 2006, 244 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 4346 times:

I had three up to now... It's not very spectacular! But of course the plane got checked on ground....

User currently offlinePanAm747 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 4242 posts, RR: 8
Reply 4, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 4348 times:

http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19631208-0&lang=en

One of the reasons that jet fuel was changed to a less explosive formula.

Today it is not quite as dangerous an event as it used to be - I still however wouldn't want to be the conduit!!



Pan Am:The World's Most Experienced Airline - P(oor) S(ailor's) A(irline): San Diego's Hometown Airline-Catch Our Smile!
User currently offlineSabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 4316 times:

Quoting EDDB (Reply 3):
But of course the plane got checked on ground....

When I left the airport I saw that the flight back to Paris was delayed by 2 hours. Now I know why, it was checked after the lightning strike.

Patrick


User currently offlineEDDB From Germany, joined Aug 2006, 244 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 4294 times:

A little bit off topic... But does anybody know how the 787, or in general every aircraft with a composite fuselage, will be protected against lightning strike?
I mean usually the (metal) fuselage itself acts as a Farady cage, what if it's non-metal?


User currently offlineSpeedbirdie From United Kingdom, joined May 2006, 915 posts, RR: 52
Reply 7, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 4217 times:

Ive been hit by lightening working as crew. It scared me sensless I tell you!
We had just taken off from LHR heading for errrrr Hamburg maybe. After take off we were going through the clouds as normal and then a huge flash and a bang. I completely wet myself and the CSD next to me just said 'Oh, its ok, we've just been hit by lightening'. Anyway to cut a long story short, the plane wasnt in any danger and we continued on as normal. As we were the last flight into Hamburg that night and we were stopping over, the same aircraft due to operate the first flight out was heavily delayed as it had to have a thorough check on it at first light.
Well thats my story!
Safe flying all  Smile



Never give up..
User currently offlineBrenintw From Taiwan, joined Jul 2006, 1629 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 4130 times:

Quoting EDDB (Reply 6):
But does anybody know how the 787, or in general every aircraft with a composite fuselage, will be protected against lightning strike

According to a TV programme I saw recently (Discovery Channel maybe) the B787 fuselage will have a conductive metal/mesh cage around it to take care of lightning strikes.

Bren



I'm tired of the A vs. B sniping. Neither make planes that shed wings randomly!
User currently offlinePlymSpotter From Spain, joined Jun 2004, 11639 posts, RR: 60
Reply 9, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 4119 times:

I think I've been hit a couple of times when flying on Dash8's, I felt a jolt of the plane and saw a slight flash, but when flying on a Dash in very bad weather you get jolted around so much that its hard to pinpoint it on the lightening although we were in a big storm at the time.

When I flew LHR-PEK with Air China the A343 I was due to fly on got struck by lightening on its approach into LHR. This picked on a single rivet and completely fried it, putting a hole in the aircraft. The maintenance crew then had to go through a very long process of officially buying 1 rivet from BA, and getting all the paperwork together for the transaction before somebody could sign the papers and the 'sale' could take place. After that fitting it was easy, quick test of the systems and we were off, 5 hours late and the last plane out of LHR for the evening at 23:59 biggrin 

Dan Smile



...love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage again...
User currently offlineN328KF From United States of America, joined May 2004, 6484 posts, RR: 3
Reply 10, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 4111 times:

Three words: SCE to AUX


When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.' T.Roosevelt
User currently offlineTGV From France, joined Dec 2004, 874 posts, RR: 20
Reply 11, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 4105 times:

Apparently in some cases consequences can be pretty serious:
Kuwait Airways Incident @ LHR This Morning (by LHR777 Oct 11 2006 in Civil Aviation)



Avoid 777 with 3-4-3 config in Y ! They are real sardine cans. (AF/KL for example)
User currently offlineMXSUP From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 27 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 4037 times:

Like EMBQA said, mostly a non event. Most of the time the passengers dont even know it happened, sometimes the crew doesnt either and MX finds it on the overnight. The worst damage I see is on the wingtips/winglets, and horizontal stab tips. We usually just change out the tip and send it to the shops for repair, if none in stock the SRM gives pretty broad limits on allowable damage and DMI procedures (speedtape it and ship it for 500 flight cycles).

User currently offlineWarren747sp From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 1158 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 3960 times:

Only if t is postively charged. The only known incident of an airliner brought down is the Pan Am plane near Philadelphia nearly 30 years ago.


747SP
User currently offlinePilotaydin From Turkey, joined Sep 2004, 2539 posts, RR: 51
Reply 14, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3886 times:

ive had one, we thought we died, everything went bright and silent after the bang lol then when we landed we saw that the nose cone has some moderate damage  Smile it was awesome!


The only time there is too much fuel onboard, is when you're on fire!
User currently offlineAirSpare From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 589 posts, RR: 6
Reply 15, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 3850 times:

I was an avionics tech at Beale. One afternoon an radio guy came in and said "A 135 is on final on an IFE, sounds like it's going to crash!", and ran out. This was in about 1980, sorry, no pics, Beale was not the easiest place to take a camera to work.

We went out to watch the "crash", nothing, just a very high landing speed. The KC-135q was hit on the nose and the strike exited the starboard wing tip, and it took 22 feet of wing with it. This I saw with my own eyes the next day when I was snagged to drive the "line truck", (delivering parts for red balls, etc.). As I was normally in the SR-71 shelters, I didn't usually have a reason to go that end of the flightline, where the tankers and T-38s park.

I talked to the boomer a few days later, he described the incident. The A/C commander and copilot were momentarily blinded by the flash/bang. The aircraft shuddered, then kept flying. There was no apparent damage. The boomer told the copilot to look out his window..."oh shit". They were missing a big chunk of wing.

Maybe KC135TopBoom has heard of this incident. But if I didn't see the Q the next day, I wouldn't have believed it.



Get someone else for your hero worship fetish
User currently offlineSilver1SWA From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 4779 posts, RR: 26
Reply 16, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 3832 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Lightning strikes happen all the time. The plane gets pulled aside, inspected and usually gets back to work a few hours later. However, as mentioned, some damage can be quite significant and require heavy repair.

I recall one day last year at SAN, we (WN) had three aircraft arrive after getting struck by lightning enroute. Operationally, SAN was a mess that day.



ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
User currently offlineGr8Circle From Canada, joined Dec 2005, 3098 posts, RR: 4
Reply 17, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 3725 times:

I was on an AI 742 long back....took off from BOM in monsoon weather and just 5 minutes later, passed through dense clouds.....I was sitting on the right side ahead of the wing and saw lightning strike the right wingtip....there was just a dull booming sound.....no one else seemed to notice or bother....found out later from the pilots, that the strobe light on the wingtip was knocked out completely....

Actually, quite an enjoyable and memorable incident.... smile 


User currently offlineSpeedbirdie From United Kingdom, joined May 2006, 915 posts, RR: 52
Reply 18, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 3648 times:

Quoting Warren747sp (Reply 13):
Only if t is postively charged. The only known incident of an airliner brought down is the Pan Am plane near Philadelphia nearly 30 years ago.

Pardon my ignorance, but wasnt there one recently involving a 320 coming into land somewhere in Russia? Or was it a TU154?



Never give up..
User currently offlineJamie757 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 3601 times:

Quoting Speedbirdie (Reply 18):
Pardon my ignorance, but wasnt there one recently involving a 320 coming into land somewhere in Russia? Or was it a TU154?


You mean this one? Can't think of any others.  Confused

http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=20060503-0&lang=en

Pilot error was the official cause.

Rgds.


User currently offlineSpeedbirdie From United Kingdom, joined May 2006, 915 posts, RR: 52
Reply 20, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 3500 times:

Quoting Jamie757 (Reply 19):

Ah that was the one, thanks for clearing that up. Im sure I read somewhere that the aircraft got hit with a positive lightening bolt..
Oh well, thanks anyway.



Never give up..
User currently offlineHb88 From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2005, 816 posts, RR: 31
Reply 21, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 3471 times:

Quoting EDDB (Reply 6):
A little bit off topic... But does anybody know how the 787, or in general every aircraft with a composite fuselage, will be protected against lightning strike?
I mean usually the (metal) fuselage itself acts as a Farady cage, what if it's non-metal?

If it's non-metal as for a composite, it wont conduct or provide any sort of faraday sheilding. So, you need to add some sort of (conducting) lightning attachment and dissipation surface or coating to the high-risk zones of the aircraft.

It gets even more complicated when you do have external conducting features to which lightning will attach - particularly if there is no conduction path to the static wicks and there is an alternative path into the structure of the aircraft. That increases the risk of sparking across any gap in a conduction path in the aircraft. Personally, I've always thought that this is one of the major headaches of 'fully' composite aircraft. Another issue is post-strike inspection - a nightmare depending on the specific part of the composite airframe which received the strike.

The only real solution is conducting composite structures, but I think that's a little way off. Until then, I'm guessing it's a very careful balance of adding metal in critical areas (around fuel tanks, fasteners etc) and hoping for the best in others.

Boeing have talked about a conducting mesh covering parts of the 787 which sounds like a bit of a compromise and pretty difficult to maintain given that strikes are a fairly frequent occurrence.


User currently offlineAirfoilsguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 3422 times:

Not a strike but close.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Ander Aguirre - AirTeamImages



User currently offlineSean377 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 1225 posts, RR: 40
Reply 23, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 3406 times:

Reminds me of this:




Flying is the second greatest thrill known to man... Landing is the first!
User currently offlineEaglekeeper101 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 272 posts, RR: 2
Reply 24, posted (7 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 3357 times:

Quoting AirSpare (Reply 15):
Reply 15

Just recently, we had one of our F-15Cs return to base (uneventfully) after squawking a lightning strike. Upon inspection, it was determined that the lightning hit the left wingtip and exited through the nosecone. Upon opening the radome, we found the radar antenna mostly blown apart, pieces all over the inside of the radome, etc. The pilot said that, apart from having to restart it twice, the radar still worked afterwards.

Naturally, after repairs, the radar package hasn't worked worth jackdammit since  Wink



"The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens." - Bahá'u'lláh
25 Post contains images UAL Bagsmasher : CRJ's are like magnets for lightning. We had one a few weeks ago that was down for several days. Rivets were melted, fairings burned, the whole nine y
26 AirSpare : Sean377, awesome video, nose strike, tail exit. Thats wild! What kind of coverage was he getting? Haha, pilots are pretty damned smart, but usually no
27 DENplanenut : Not so sure if it was lightning, but this summer while flying over Kansas from DEN-DAY we heard a bang, I don't remember the flash and then the plane
28 TristarSteve : We get called out to do Lightning strike inspection every couple of weeks. Most of the time there is very little damage, the hardest part is finding i
29 Andz : No, just someone who knows the correct terms. I was on an SAA 742 leaving FRA one night, we were just past gear up when there was a flash that lit up
30 Jerald01 : In a previous lifetime (i.e., 45 years or so back) two of my Air Force buddies (recip engine mechs) had to hop over to Maxwell AFB in Alabama to chang
Top Of Page
Forum Index

This topic is archived and can not be replied to any more.

Printer friendly format

Similar topics:More similar topics...
How Serious Is This? MUC-BDA posted Mon Mar 13 2006 14:00:01 by Aerosol
Help....how Likely Is Strike At Midwest Express? posted Tue Aug 6 2002 06:38:50 by DCA-ROCguy
How Early Is Early To Get To The Airport? posted Tue Oct 10 2006 16:47:52 by B777A340Fan
Seat Reservation: How Reserved Is Reserved? posted Mon Oct 9 2006 20:32:57 by Jelle
How Safe Is Booking Varig For October? posted Wed Aug 30 2006 12:11:09 by Glareskin
How Long Is Gonna Take LAX To Be A380...? posted Thu Aug 10 2006 06:54:02 by FL370
Online Check In - How Daft Is This? posted Thu Jul 27 2006 17:13:41 by Drinkstrolley
The New Type Of Commuter! How Cool Is This? posted Tue Jul 18 2006 22:10:50 by Drinkstrolley
How Costly Is It To Park A Plane During Layover? posted Tue Jul 11 2006 22:14:52 by AeroWesty
How Bad Is Scrapping A Design? (350/370) posted Thu Jun 22 2006 10:06:33 by FlyUSCG