Gosh! Lightning Strikes My Aircraft





Our Airbus A330-200 (twin-jet) airplane of VN (Vietnam Airlines) ascending was rough for over 30 minutes long, just after take off from Taoyuang City (TPE) Airport. Over the Taiwan Strait, around 09:00 AM, GMT +8 on 4/20/2009. We went through a very active storm cell


Just as when I thought the suffering was over. The flash of white light formed into a bolt of lightning hit the front section of the Airbus. Then the sound of engine ceased and the aircraft's sharp drop followed that it had many people screaming. "THIS IS IT!" I said to myself quietly. Then inside the cabin had strange noise of electrical hum/buzzing from right side of the rear section, for long minutes...

A lightning strike is highly unlikely to bring down an airliner. Airliners are designed to take lightning strikes and quite a large number of commercial airliners are stricken every year without significant damage. With all the redundancy in the airliner, it will still fly without the majority of the electrical systems. An airplane is a Faraday cage*. The skin of the aircraft conducts the electricity harmlessly and dissipates the energy through static wicks. But I believe that severe turbulence from a thunderstorm associated with lightning could have brought it down, certainly.

We were very, very lucky, that day.




*From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: A Faraday cage or Faraday shield is an enclosure formed by conducting material, or by a mesh of such material. Such an enclosure blocks out external static electrical fields. Faraday cages are named after physicist Michael Faraday, who invented them in 1836.




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