Airtoday From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2000, 32 posts, RR: 0 Posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 3 days ago) and read 4633 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.
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"
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.
EDDB From Germany, joined Aug 2006, 244 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 3 days ago) and read 4564 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?
Speedbirdie From United Kingdom, joined May 2006, 933 posts, RR: 52
Reply 7, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 4487 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
PlymSpotter From Spain, joined Jun 2004, 11917 posts, RR: 60
Reply 9, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 4389 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
...love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage again...
MXSUP From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 27 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 4307 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).
AirSpare From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 589 posts, RR: 5
Reply 15, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 4120 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.
Silver1SWA From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 4925 posts, RR: 25
Reply 16, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 4102 times:
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.
Gr8Circle From Canada, joined Dec 2005, 3146 posts, RR: 4
Reply 17, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 3995 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....
Hb88 From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2005, 824 posts, RR: 31
Reply 21, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 3741 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.
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
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