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What happens when a plane is struck by lightning

4/3/2015 5:01:01 PM

If you are a frequent flier, you will likely spend some time in the sky during thunderstorms. While flights may sometimes be rerouted to avoid bad weather, lightning occasionally pops up where it's not expected. 

According to Scientific American, an airplane can actually trigger a lightning strike. When this happens, the lightning bolt doesn't come from the clouds, but rather it starts at the airplane and reaches up. It is thought that each commercial airplane is struck by lightning at least one time every year. 

Passengers and crew on board the craft at the time of the strike may hear a loud bang and see a flash of light. Aerospace technology, however, has enabled planes to safely experience storms without serious damage to the craft. On some occasions, there have been instances where the plane is slightly scorched in the area where the bolt struck. In this instance, the pilot would land the plane as soon as possible to be sure everything is working properly before continuing on the scheduled flight. 

If you are on a plane during a storm, take comfort in knowing that the flight crew has been trained to handle lightning strikes and other weather situations. When you land, before heading to your car rental, be sure to thank the staff for a safe flight.

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