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Thread: ?????.....LIGHTNING and Aircraft......What happens...???

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    Default ?????.....LIGHTNING and Aircraft......What happens...???

    So what happens when lightning strikes an aircraft.......???

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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    It puts you waiting in the terminal for a long, long, time.......
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Anyone know how a lightning strike effects small or large aircraft. If it was taught in Commercial Pilot school, I don't remember. But I am guessing that it is NOT a good event. And would likely brown one's under'shorts.

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    Thanks that was educational........however I still wonder about metal tube airframes with fabric skin.

    This is an excerpt from the article....."Traditionally, most small, commercially made aircraft have aluminum skins and do not contain computerized engine and flight controls, and they are thus inherently less susceptible to lightning; however, numerous reports of noncatastrophic damage to wing tips, propellers and navigation lights have been recorded."



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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    This wont answer your question in the least, but I'll add just for informational purposes....

    My wife and her father saw lightning strike the commercial airplane they were traveling in quite a few years ago. The lightning struck the wing just outside their window. They both say that the surface of the lightning bolt looked like a hair under a microscope, with scales and sort of waxy looking. Dont know if that is typical, but they both said the same thing....


    Here is a human hair under a microscope:


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    Member IndyCzar's Avatar
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    I have been hit several times in both C-130H aircraft and commercial airliner...each time the flash BANG got our attention...the worst damage was to a radio and a small holes in the skin...I think the engineer thought it was the exit point...most modern airliners have static wicks that dissipate st. elmo's fire and help mitigate lightning strikes giving the lightning energy a place to exit the ungrounded fuselage/wing area with minimal damaging...hope it helps...I have never been hit in a small airplane but I try very hard to not get to close to the conditions that create those opportunities.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AGL4now View Post
    So what happens when lightning strikes an aircraft.......???
    Question might be better asked as "what typically happens?" vs "what could potentially happen?" Answers will range from "typically not much", to "potentially catastrophic destruction". The effects of lightning are not reliably predictable.

    Good read: http://flightsafety.org/aerosafety-w...htning-strikes

    When I was a youngster, Lightening struck an air conditioner in my bedroom window. I completely incinerated the wiring in two walls, but caused no fire and caused no harm at all to the air conditioner. ESD is a wondrous thing.
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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Our jet airliner was hit and none of the passengers knew about it until we were told....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    I've seen a couple F-16's hit. We do a whole big/in-depth inspection and find a small hole where the charge left the airframe. I've never seen (or heard of) damage to the avionics.

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    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    I'm a Boeing pilot and have been struck a couple of times and also had static discharges. All pilots respect and avoid thunderstorms but sometimes, even though you think you are clear of a cell, lightning can still reach out and strike. Lightning is one of lesser threats of thunderstorms vs. extreme turbulence, severe icing, and destructive hail damage.

    Protecting the airframe, components, and occupants has been part of the manufacturer's certification standards since early on. As mentioned above and in the link below, usually little damage takes place from a lightning strike. In the airliner world the pilots writeup the occurrence in the aircraft logbook and then maintenance follows a prescribed inspection prior to the next flight (basically a thorough pre-flight). There is usually very little damage other than a needed change in pilot underwear.

    http://www.boeing.com/commercial/aer...les/2012_q4/4/

    St Elmo's Fire is pretty cool and can also occur in conditions other than convective weather. I still think it makes most people uncomfortable, especially the first time they see it.

    Most light general aviation aircraft are not flown in and around convective weather conducive to lightning.....or at least shouldn't be.

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    Moderator Adison's Avatar
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    On the big airliners, I have been struck before in 747's. The flash and bang are usually the scariest part of the whole ordeal. I have done hundred's of post strike inspections and typically we only find a few burn marks or an occasional hole here and there. Most issues can be deferred for repair at a later time.
    On small GA aircraft, I don't know that I have ever had an incident of one being struck? Working down in Florida, lightning was almost an everyday thing. Allot of our training was in actual IFR conditions with large cells moving and building in the local area. Maintenance and ground servicing would stop if it was within a few miles, but the pilots still flew.
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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    I was on an Alaska Airlines flight that got struck. Sounded like we ran into a moose. We were grounded in Seattle until they could find us a new plane. I overheard two of the mechanics talking about it when they came inside the terminal..they said there was a fair amount of damage to the nose cone rivets.
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