Is an aircraft a magnet for lightning?


Details on lightning strikes on aircraft have been all over the news lately. Twice during the summer, lightning struckairplanes at Moscow airports: on 30 July 2016 at Sheremetyevo airport, a lightning strike hit an А-320 aircraft and on 22 August 2016, – a Boeing-737 passenger liner. The incident did not affect passengers or the aircraft crew. Early in October, near Keflavik, the largest international airport in Iceland, eyewitnesses were lucky to capture shots of a lightning strike hitting an aircraft as it took off on their mobile phones. Next, on 19 October, lightning struck the nose of an A-320 aircraft returning from Munich to Moscow. It burnt the fuselage all the way through, making the aircraft unusable for subsequent operations.

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The most frequent occasions occur at the moment when the aircraft is flying inside a thunderstorm cloud or during its take-off and landing. Normally, lightning strikes the extreme points of an aircraft: the wings, nose and tail. The question asks itself: is lightning really a dangerous hazard for modern aircraft? Are they not a magnet for lightning while flying through a thunderstorm cloud?

Find the answers to these questions revealed by Prof. Eduard Meerovich Bazelyan in his article «Lightning protection of aircraft». Read more useful materials in the special section.

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