Safety Precautions

What happens to an airplane when it is struck by lightning?

Airline pilots tend to avoid thunderstorms, but when a plane is struck by lightning, the passengers inside the plane are kept perfectly safe, for they are inside a Faraday Cage, which shields them from the massive electrical charge. The lightning can, however, disturb and even destroy some of the sensitive electronics used to fly the plane.

Studies were performed by NASA in the 1980s in which they flew fighter planes into thunderstorms to see how the planes would react to lightning. The scientists quickly found that the planes actually encouraged lighting, because the planes caused increases in the electric field of the cloud, which in turn caused the lightning to hit the plane’s metal body.

Studies in the 1980s showed that airplanes actually attract lightning. While lightning storms can still be dangerous, passengers inside airplanes are safe from electric shock because they are actually inside a Faraday Cage.

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