It was a cold rainy day in October of 2016. Huge balls of hail crashed into the ground. In short, it wasn’t a good day to fly, and Wow Air Flight 404 headed from Reykjavík, Iceland to Paris, France would soon understand why…
That iconic fuchsia-colored plane was struck by a massive bolt of lightning not long after taking off! But did she go down? You’d think so given that a single lightning bolt carries 1 billion volts of electric force with it. So, an exterior burnt black like a piece of coal? A shredded fuselage? A fire on board? No, nope, and negative.
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What the damage would look like 1:07
Why planes avoid storms (not because of the lightning itself) 2:03
How jumbo jets are protected from lightning 3:29
Can passengers notice anything? 7:22
The biggest risk 8:14
#planes #whatif #brightside
– Lightning doesn’t hit airplanes that often these days. Security rules don’t allow pilots to fly into a storm front. The plane should go around a thundercloud but never above or under it.
– Ok, but if a lightning strike doesn’t bring a plane down or do any threatening damage, then why do they avoid storms? Well, it’s not because of the lightning itself but extreme turbulence that might happen inside a storm.
– As it is now, with the existing safety rules in place, lightning hits a plane 1-2 times a year if the aircraft is used regularly. But even then, it doesn’t usually lead to any serious circumstances.
– Out of 3,000 plane-related incidents since 2000, only 8 of them were caused by lightning strikes.
– Retired pilot Chris Hammond explains that before an aircraft goes into service, it gets tested for all possible incidents. That includes a lightning strike simulation.
– The bolt usually hits the plane in the area of its nose and leaves near the tail and partially through the wings. It does that because it chooses the path of least resistance.
– Even if the flight makes it to the destination and everything seems ok, technicians still carefully examine the aircraft once it’s on the ground to see if there’s any micro damage to its skin.
– Spots where the lightning entered and exited the plane’s exterior usually look like small melted holes no more than half an inch in diameter. They can be fixed very quickly.
– But can passengers notice anything on board during this impromptu light show? Sure, you can hear a loud strike and see flashes outside the plane.
– Lightning is not a problem in modern aviation. A lot of design solutions protect airplanes from any severe damage, and the risk of getting into an accident caused by lightning is next to zero.
– In fact, the biggest risk caused by a lightning strike (other than any turbulence going on out in that storm) is that passengers who notice it can get scared and start panicking.
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