Almost 600 passengers were on flights hit by lightning last week.
Lightning punched a hole in the nose of a jet carrying nearly 300 passengers as it came into Auckland last week. The Lan Chile Airbus was one of two South American planes struck as they landed in a huge electrical storm. The passengers, flying from Sydney to Santiago via Auckland, were left stranded overnight and the plane was grounded for two days while parts were flown in from South America. One witness said the hole was the size of a dinner plate. An Aerolineas Argentinas plane carrying a similar number of people was also damaged as New Zealand was pounded by almost 15,000 lightning strikes in 24 hours.
Neither airline wished to comment, but Auckland International Airport spokesman Richard Llewellyn confirmed both planes were damaged. "There was quite a bit of lightning around them when they came in. The engineers checked them out once they landed, it was all fine."
Two Air New Zealand flights were also struck by lightning on Wednesday; one, a flight from Wellington to Auckland, hit as it was descending. Passengers on the Boeing 737 saw "a ball of light" to the left of the aircraft and heard a clap of thunder. There was no obvious physical impact and passengers did not know that lightning had struck their aircraft until the captain told them when they had landed. Air New Zealand spokeswoman Tracey Palmer said the lightning struck the aircraft's nose-mounted radome, which houses its weather radar antenna, but passengers were not at risk. She said both planes were checked and there were no "airworthiness issues. "All aircraft are fitted with static dischargers that dissipate the energy from any lightning strike back into the atmosphere."
Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Bill Sommer said lightning damage to aircraft was rare and most were built to handle the power surge. The highest number of reports of lightning damage was 37, in 2002, but only two incidents had been reported this year. Radar technology meant planes could often fly around thunderstorms, but pilots could sometimes do nothing about it, Sommer said. "I've seen lightning damage to planes. It looks like someone has taken a spot-welder and put holes in the skin." Since the exterior of most aircraft is metal, the electrical charge in the lightning bolt travels along the surface, causing only minor damage, such as pits or burns. Occasionally, it can damage other parts of an aircraft, such as the electrical or avionics systems, but in rare cases it can cause the fuel tanks to explode.
Hail and turbulence causes much more damage to aircraft than lightning. MetService weather ambassador Bob McDavitt said New Zealand experienced almost 15,000 lightning strikes in the 24 hours to 9am on Thursday, mainly across the northern part of the North Island.
Bron:Herald on Sunday
A VIRGIN Blue flight from Melbourne to Launceston was struck by lightning as the jetliner flew to the Tasmanian island this morning. irgin Blue spokeswoman Amanda Bolger confirmed the strike on DJ602 as it headed to Launceston on a one-hour flight, which left Melbourne this morning at 8.35am. Ms Bolger said the 737 aircraft was struck as it headed into Launceston. The plane landed as normal at 9.35am.
Early reports suggested small holes had been burned into the fuselage by the strikes, but Ms Bolger said the aircraft was undamaged. Engineers had since checked the aircraft for damage, and the plane had been allowed to fly back to Melbourne, she said. â€œEngineers checked it and the aircraft is going back from Launceston to Melbourne as we speak,â€ Ms Bolger said. â€œThe aircraft are designed to withstand lightning strikes. It does happen from time to time, which is why they have protective devices. The procedure is that the aircraft is always checked by an engineer on the ground and once it is clear it is put back in service.â€
A Launceston air traffic controller said lightning strikes on aircraft were relatively common and sometimes caused small entry and exit holes in aircraft.
Bron: Herald Sun