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What happens if lightning hits a GA airplane?

Asked by: 1421 views General Aviation, Weather

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1 Answers

  1. Best Answer

    Spencerstrubs on Mar 09, 2016

    There are many different outcomes to this. First off, if this happens to you while flying, the first thing to be aware of is that you should no longer trust your instruments (especially if flying “glass”), until it has been confirmed that they have not been affected by the strike. Next, if you are still flying and everything seems to be fine, great! However, be aware that possible structural damage may have occurred. If you look in the Abnormal Operations portion of your POH/PIM, you may very well find a section on lightning strikes. It will say this very thing “structural damage may have occurred”. Therefore, they recommend that you avoid making abrupt or full deflection inputs to the controls. I have only seen this in the Diamond Aircraft (DA42 L360) POH so far, but I’m sure it’s in others as well. One last thing, if you see lighting ahead, don’t go towards it, stay as far away as possible from it! I usually use the general rule of staying 10 Nautical miles from the thunderstorm, but I’v seen it written that 5NM may be acceptable for aircraft at lower altitudes. Also, the “sweet spot: for lightning to hit aircraft is when the outside air temperature is -5 degrees celsius to +5 degrees Celsius, so be aware of the OAT!

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