What Happens If Lightning Strikes a Plane?

What Happens If Lightning Strikes a Plane?

While it is known that thousands of lightning strike the earth every minute, thousands of planes traveling at the same time bring the risk of lightning. Finally, when a plane crashed as a result of a lightning strike in 1988, studies on this issue were accelerated. Various studies have been made and suggestions have been made on why lightning strikes aircraft and what protection can be provided in this process. According to the result, lightning strikes on airplanes mostly occurred while traveling through clouds. 

The plane crash occurred after the situation triggered by staying between opposite loads. The first place where the lightning strikes is the sharpest parts of the plane. Examples include front or wingtips. In the case of staying between two clouds with opposite charges, lightning inevitably appeared, while technological innovations began to be made.

What Changed Planes To Protect From Lightning

The use of aluminum in the ends causing the lightning has been changed. Composite was used instead of aluminum, which is a highly conductive material. Thus, the conductivity levels were brought down considerably. However, the outer cover sections of the aircraft were chosen from much thicker materials. Thus, the situation of being affected by any spark was also eliminated. The fact that these are made of metal also made the emergence of a much stronger structure inevitable.

Fuel Systems Change

Sparks coming into the fuel systems could cause very violent explosions. A solution was found in this situation. In order to minimize the possibility of sparks hitting, the fuel tanks on the aircraft and the connection points were also designed differently. Thus, it will not be possible for the sparks to reach or hit these parts under any possibility. The same was true for all ports.

What are Aircraft Protection Features?

While fuel systems were at the top of the biggest damage cases in aircraft, technological innovations minimized the encounter of aircraft with lightning. Currently, controls regarding all operations, including motor systems, are carried out with the help of computers.

While it is possible to detect existing problems immediately, warnings are also made against lightning possibilities. In addition, the occurrence of voltage fluctuations due to electrical cables may also bring lightning strikes. In order to avoid such a situation, the cable bundles are covered with much more robust protective materials. Even in the event of any impact, contact with the cables is prevented due to the protectors. For the discharge situations during flight, bumps were made on the wingtip and rear parts.

Thanks to the structures defined as special static dischargers, the discharge of the accumulated static charge have been made much easier and safer. It would not be wrong to say that after these changes made for almost every aircraft, full protection against lightning strikes is provided. Structural changes made for all aspects evaluated by scientists against electrical and magnetic conditions made planes much safer. It is also known that there are various elements in the fuselage and wing sections of the aircraft, which are used by more people every day, to protect them from lightning.

SEE ALSO: What is the Butterfly Effect?

Reference: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-happens-when-lightni/

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