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Lightening And Take-offs?

Mon Jun 23, 2003 11:03 am

On Friday evening I flew from Manila to Singapore. On take-off, we were held on the taxiway as this huge storm blew in - ligthening everywhere. ATC held us to allow other planes to land (including a number that had apparently turned around). But we took off in the storm with lightening coming in pretty much all around us - which was quite an interesting experience. This was quite different from a similar situation in Sydney when we were held at the gate until the storm had passed.

So a question: are there guidelines for take-offs in storms, especially when there are large quantities of lightening around? If so, what are they?
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RE: Lightening And Take-offs?

Mon Jun 23, 2003 11:09 am

In the US, when theres lightning spotted within 3 miles (?)of an airport, the ramp totally shuts down so that the rampers can take cover...this usually only affects flights that have already landed or flights sitting at the gate ready to depart...Im not sure about the actual act of taking off/landing...Im pretty sure they are allowed to continue operations if they are clear of the ramp but not 100% sure...

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RE: Lightening And Take-offs?

Mon Jun 23, 2003 11:21 am

If there's lightning over the airport that means there's probably CB's over the airport, in which case it might be safer to wait until it passes over. You might be taking off into a microburst or windshear situation.
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RE: Lightening And Take-offs?

Mon Jun 23, 2003 12:38 pm

I've had that happen... Last year, we were coming back from JST ( Johnstown, PA) and the skies looked pretty dark. once we landed, we stopped and the pilot of our Saab 340 told us that there was lightning around PIT and that everything is ground-stopped so don't worry about connections... 10 minutes later, we went to the Landside Terminal....

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RE: Lightening And Take-offs?

Wed Jul 02, 2003 8:21 am

I read an interesting account of an A340 flight JNB-LHR from the point of view of the captain.

It stated that there was a thunderstorm overhead JNB at the time of departure and that he would wait for it to pass.

Reasons given were that flying through the storm he was likely to encounter windshear, out of limit crosswinds as well as the possibility of a lightning strike damaging the aircraft.

He also said that the storms usually pass quickly.

With landings it is probably the same story unless your need to land is urgent due to low fuel or technical reasons.
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RE: Lightening And Take-offs?

Wed Jul 02, 2003 3:26 pm

does anyone remember the SQ006 crash in CKS 2+ years ago? it took off (albeit in the wrong closed runway) in the midst of a large typhoon blowing across taipei. everything was still in operation despite the weathrer wasnt it?
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RE: Lightening And Take-offs?

Wed Jul 02, 2003 3:40 pm

Personally, in my private flying, I avoid all thunderstorms by at least 20 miles. I suppose it's left largely to the judgment of the pilot. Pilots are taught to definitely avoid the thunderstorm itself and avoid taking off into the face of an approaching thunderstorm.
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RE: Lightening And Take-offs?

Wed Jul 02, 2003 7:47 pm

Jhooper - if you follow that advice forever, you will live long and prosper!

A few weeks ago here in Europe, an "experienced" A320 crew found themselves in the middle of a CB and had their aircraft severely damaged by hail.

They are all lucky to be alive.

I had the fortunate experience in 1980 of getting caught in a not-yet-mature CB cell in Alberta Canada. The reason it was fortunate is that the precipitation from the cell had not yet started, the aircraft was out of control in vertical up and down drafts but we had enough altitude to cover the excessive vertical movements of the aircraft, and I survived. The pilot of the Navajo at the time said he'd flown through lots of TRW's before. I thought at the time he had just a little time to live if he thought he could keep doing that. He said that was the last time he'd try it.

We each cleaned our respective seats, went off duty and then closed some local establishment thanking the gods we got out of it alive.

That's a 24 year old memory but the lesson learned has been applied by this "old" pilot ever since.

Good replies above. At CYYZ, Toronto, the ground crew have a 5 mile rule. That includes the fuelers. When the CB's are active, the airport shuts down. At CYYZ sometimes, it's hard to tell if there are CB's around, or the airport is just continuing as normal!

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