Just like lightning to strike any object within a radius of several kilometers to us to give us the creeps. But when the subject is even a plane in which we insisne we are, experience can be downright disturbing. However, how exposed are airplanes in front electrical discharges?
It is a question uttered more and more people from the moment the unfortunate event of a crash in Atlantic AF447 Air France Airbus with 228 passengers on board, as a result of the alleged impact of lightning.
Adjacent image and video illustrates a plane take off when lightning struck the airport in Osaka, Japan. Apparently, no one on board the aircraft was hurt and nobody knows if the plane suffered any damage. As in most cases of this nature and perhaps surprisingly to some, the aircraft itself seems to have triggered the electrical discharge.
In fact, in the ’80s it was shown that in most cases – up to 90% – the flash of aircraft, the event can be traced even in airplanes as they fly through areas highly electrically charged cloud. What happens to the remaining 10%? In such incidents, the aircraft heading in a lightning storm and intercepts an independent lightning itself. Occasionally, they are catastrophic.
Positive lightning situations, better known as “hit the blue”, is certainly a type of lightning that a plane would not want to meet him. Being less than 5% of lightning, these rare forms of electrical activity are triggered by positive charge in the higher echelons of clouds that is discharged to the ground with earth energy.
Positive lightning is much stronger and more durable than other forms of lightning and can strike tens of kilometers distant from the high clouds. Because of their power, “blows out of the blue” are definitely dangerous. Moreover, most aircraft are not designed to withstand such blows, because their existence was not known when the aircraft safety standards have been established. A device known as “static wick” acts as a barrier against discharge power, causing dissipation of circulation instead of his lightning in vulnerable areas of the aircraft. But suddenly a flash may be another story. It is estimated that on average, each U.S. commercial airliner is struck by lightning at least once a year and still no plane crash was not attributed lightning for decades. However, after air tragedy in 1963 when Pan Am flight 214 crashed because of a fuel tank explosion and 81 people died, all commercial aircraft were equipped with lightning discharge wicks.