3 Aug 2017

The Astonishing Resilience of an Aircraft – BA Plane Lands Safely After Being Struck by Lightning

Lightning Strike

A British Airways flight from London Heathrow to Chennai, India sustained 42-46 holes after being struck by lightning shortly after departing from London Heathrow on 22nd July. On arrival in India the aircraft was inspected and the extent of the damage was revealed. As a result, the Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner was grounded and a replacement aircraft was brought in for the return journey. A spokesperson from British Airways released the following statement “We apologised to customers and rebooked them onto alternative services after our flight from Chennai to London was cancelled on Sunday following a technical issue.”

“The aircraft was inspected by our highly qualified engineers before returning to service.

“The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our priority.”

It is estimated that every aircraft is struck by lightning each year. Aircraft are engineered to sustain electrical currents as they have a conductive outer skin which means the electrical wave will hit and leave the aircraft without interfering with the cabin. The last commercial flight to have been brought down by lightning was in 1963 when a Pan AM flight crashed in Maryland, USA. The aircraft was caught in an electrical storm which caused the fumes in the fuel tank to ignite. This led to the review and alteration of aircraft design to ensure the fuel tanks within the wings are fully protected from a lightning strike.

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