Monday, May 03, 2021

Parked aircraft hit by lightning, damage repaired

Kolkata: Lightning struck a Boeing aircraft parked at Kolkata airport on Saturday night, affecting the plane. The aircraft could have suffered greater damage had the strike triggered a fire.

According to airport sources, the Jet Airways Boeing B 737-800 aircraft was parked in bay no. 57 for the night halt in Kolkata when the thunderstorm that had subsided for a while again gained intensity around 10.30pm. “There was a lot of lightning streaking across the night sky. Some seemed to be striking close to the airport. Suddenly there was a bright flash followed by an ear-splitting sound. We realized a bolt had dropped inside the airport,” recounted an airport official who was in the terminal.

Other staff members who were in the apron area had seen the lightning strike an aircraft. After the thunderstorm brew over, Jet Airways engineers rushed to the plane that had taken the hit. There was fear of the lightning triggering a fire inside the aircraft but the plane had escaped with minimal damage.

“Our engineers carried out a thorough inspection of the plane, repaired the damage and made it serviceable by mid-morning,” a Jet Airways official said.

An aviation industry expert said major damage to aircraft in a lightning strike was a rarity as modern planes were geared to handle such eventuality.

“There are static electricity dischargers on the plane that stick out like twigs from the edge of wings, fins and tail. These are designed to neutralize a lightning. In any case, an aircraft’s surface is usually always charged due to friction with air during flights. Generally, a lightning strike leads to horizontal movement along the aircraft’s surface, causing a burn mark on the paint. Very rarely does a vertical movement happen that can cause any internal damage,” he said.

03/05/21 Times of India

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