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Lightning during a flight: is it dangerous?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

It’s quite common for aircrafts to fly through thunderstorms without anyone noticing that the plane got hit. Fortunately, airplanes are built to handle electric shocks. We here at would like to tell you a little more about on what the effects of a lightning strike are.

What happens during a lightning strike?

Aircrafts are designed to divert lightning. The lightning hits the aircraft at a specific spot, passes through the plane, and travels to the ground from a different point. Mostly there are just some loud noises, but in severe cases the lightning can hit the engine and cause a fire. Even then there really is no reason to panic as the plane can safely land with one engine. This has been cleverly considered when designing such machines.

Is it dangerous?

As mentioned above, generally speaking, a lightning strike isn’t dangerous. If something were to go wrong, this is usually the result of circumstances associated with lightning. What causes most passengers to panic is the hard blows that can be heard. Besides the blast, there isn’t much you notice on board. The lightning does not penetrate the plane nor does it reach any systems on board. Additionally, airplanes are equipped with radar systems to locate thunderstorms; thus, allowing them to divert their route in order to avoid the thunderstorms altogether.

After landing, the affected airplane is checked for damage, and in most cases approved for further flights.