As the black clouds roll across Europe, bringing with them extreme weather warnings, we examine whether you need to be worried about flying in a storm.
According to an article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, on average, every commercial aircraft is hit by lightning once a year. It goes on to explain that it is routine for an aircraft to land as soon as possible after a strike, but this is a precautionary measure. Lightning is extremely hot – up to 30,000C. The typical damage is a scorch mark where the point of contact was, usually a wing-tip. The plane’s electronics are well shielded these days. Passengers usually won’t notice a thing, or they might just see a bright flash.
Airplane manufacturer Boeing advise that:
Strikes to airplanes are relatively common but rarely result in a significant impact to the continued safe operation of the airplane.
If you are interested to learn more, check out these articles:
Guardian newspaper article (May 2012)
Boeing comprehensive technical data and statistics regarding lightning strikes to Boeing aircraft.