Lightning from the plane

Discussion in 'Weather' started by xcel, Jun 6, 2016.

  1. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    So you are flying along at 520 knots and 33,000 ft. when you see this out your window.

    #plane in the #twilightzone


    #efficient #long #distance #traveler #CleanMPG
    S Keith, JonNC, wxman and 3 others like this.
  2. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    Great picture!
    is that the sun under the wing winglet ??
    and why does the winglet look HUGE
    This is one of the many reasons I don't fly anymore
    I don't go anywhere I can't drive!
  3. Jay

    Jay Well-Known Member

    S Keith, BillLin and xcel like this.
  4. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    Great video
    and the 1000th reason I don't fly!!
    xcel likes this.
  5. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    This one was captured in Santa Barbara of all places.

    S Keith and BillLin like this.
  6. S Keith

    S Keith Well-Known Member

    Terrifying on the surface, but aircraft are designed to survive lightning strikes. This includes any critical flight electronics. The Aluminum body is an excellent conductor. The aircraft is never the final destination for the bolt but is occasionally in the path of the bolt. The electricity passes right through it as is shown by Jay's post.

    Even non-metallic composite aircraft must have provisions to provide sufficient conductance to survive a strike. This is accomplished by either using enough carbon fiber and/or inlay a conductive metallic mesh.

    The massive amount of conductive material in an aircraft is sufficient to allow the massive current to pass without significant resistance thus generating little heat within the material. Generally, there is only damage at the location where the bolt enters the aircraft and where it leaves it.

    Regs here:;node=14:

    While thinly worded, this actually puts the onus on the manufacturer to DEMONSTRATE compliance.

    BillLin and xcel like this.
  7. Jay

    Jay Well-Known Member

    Right Steve. It's called a Faraday cage. Not all aircraft have one, though. One of my giant projects that I never finished was a Lancair 360 kitplane which is a high-performance, retractable-gear, fiberglass composite, 2 seater. There's quite a bit of sanding and vacuuming in the construction of one of these and I can remember getting massive, painful shocks as I vacuumed dust off the skins and other components. I actually had to retire my shop vac and get another vacuum with a grounded conductive hose to mitigate the static-electric shocks.
    BillLin and xcel like this.
  8. S Keith

    S Keith Well-Known Member

    Very familiar with the Lancair. Used to work next to a company that did owner-assisted kit plane builds here in the Phoenix area. I would pop in over lunch and watch the epoxy cure... :)

    The regulation I linked is for transport category aircraft (14 CFR Part 25). Part 23 governs light "personal" aircraft. Experimental aircraft are a whole 'notha world and certificated under special provisions of Part 21 essentially on an individual basis.

    There is no regulation that requires an experimental aircraft to have lightning protection.
    xcel and BillLin like this.
  9. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    Jay, that actually sounds dangerous. Woodworking shops have to be careful to have the dust-collection system grounded because airborne dust is a perfect recipe for an explosion. It just takes one little spark to ignite the whole room! :eek:
    xcel likes this.

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