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Lightning Strikes

Tue Jan 21, 2003 11:22 pm

A post in the photography forum inspired this question. What is the "normal" procedure after a plane is struck by lightning, assuming there is no systems failures? Do they immediately land? Is it different if the strike occurs on approach or climb-out?

RE: Lightning Strikes

Wed Jan 22, 2003 6:50 am

No specific procedures (at least for all airplanes I know)...
Had a few lightning strikes, I remember 3 separate occasions, of which, one was 3 strikes within a few seconds of time... Scared the hell out of me, each time I admit... aircrafts, each time were inspected, no damage...
By practical standpoint, if you fly into electrical storm area, go full bright lights in cockpit (if at night), suggest (if 2 pilots) that one keeps eyes closed so not to be momentarily blinded by flash...
After strike, check electrical system... also compass...
By the way, strikes are... VERY LOUD... Scared me each time...
One strike was on top of cockpit area (on a 707) just above my head...
(s) Skipper
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RE: Lightning Strikes

Wed Jan 22, 2003 6:52 am

Nice to see you around again, hope your holidays were great...  Big grin
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
Posts: 220
Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2001 2:16 pm

RE: Lightning Strikes

Wed Jan 22, 2003 2:58 pm

The "normal" maintenance procedure within our airline is, if a crew reports a lightning strike, then a 16 page "lightning strike inspection job card" must be completed. Although there may not be any visible exterior damage, internal components (ie bonding straps) may be damaged.

Then again I have seen lightning burn off a wingtip.

I can attest to Skipper's comments on the fright of lightning. I have seen a few crewmembers look like they have crapped themselves, to which I insert the humor "does your seat need replacing too?"

Break ground, and head into the wind. Don't break wind and head into the ground.
Posts: 41
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RE: Lightning Strikes

Wed Jan 22, 2003 5:06 pm

Jetdocter is right. the inspection from what i have seen normally takes
around 4-5 hours in Tulsa. Funny thing is they say lightning never strikes
twice. Just think about that one for a minute. Here's proof for some of the
non-believers. Sunday about 3:30 in the afternoon a Continental MD-80
was hit by lightning on approach into Tulsa. Aircraft had very little damage,
only some paint was removed. The following Sunday (exactly 1 week later)
the exact same MD-80 and guess what, the exact same crew on approach
into Tulsa. Well you guessed it, another lightning strike. This time the aircraft
had problems with the elevators while trying to land. During the inspection this
time there was 2 very large spots on the tail where paint had been removed,
and part of some kind of aerodynamic cap that was on the very top of the
t-tail had been burned/(blowed) off. Talked with the crew and both the
captain, first officer had requested to not fly into Tulsa any more. The
captain told me that since that was the 2nd time in a row, he would not fly
into Tulsa unless he had to, but he also said that he believes in the rule of
third times a charm. I don't think anyone would have wanted to find out what
would have happened the third time.

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