Re: Thunderstorms

From:         greg@bronze.ucs.indiana.edu (Gregory R. TRAVIS)
Organization: Indiana University
Date:         27 Jun 94 12:01:07 
References:   1
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In <airliners.1994.1335@ohare.Chicago.COM> laewell@iastate.edu (Lars A Ewell) writes:

>To Whom it May Concern,

>	While taking a recent flight from LaGuardia on a
>727-200 we flew through a rather significant thunderstorm.
>The rain was coming down pretty hard but what got my 
>attention was at least one lightning flash that was not 
>too far from the plane.  Are most commercial airliners
>protected against lightning flashes?  Has there ever
>been a record of lightning striking an airliner and if
>so, what were the consequences?

The information I have suggests that a typical airliner gets
struck by lightning once a year.  That is, EACH airliner gets struck
once a year; that makes about 5000 (real rough) strikes/year for the
fleet.

Obviously, most of the strikes result in little or no damage to the aircraft.
However, it is not unknown for lightning the bring down an airliner,
particularly if it incapacitates the crew or ignites fuel vapors.

A particularly nasty accident occured to an early 707 in the late fifties/
early sixties (my reference is at work).  The 707 was stacked in a hold over
Washington, DC when it was struck on the wing by lightning.  The bolt
ignited venting fuel and the aircraft crashed, killing all aboard.

The result of that accident was improved fuel venting and safety
systems.

greg