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How Often Do Planes Get Hit by Lightning?

On average, each commercial airplane gets hit by lightning approximately once a year, but it rarely causes any serious damage or accidents. The outside skin of an airplane is primarily composed of aluminum, a material that conducts the electricity from lightning back into the air and prevents it from reaching the plane's interior. Most passengers might not even notice if lightning has struck their plane because it doesn't tend to cause any issues or interruptions to the flight beyond a flash of light.

More about lightning and planes:

  • The last reported plane accident caused by lightning was in the United States in 1967, when lightning hit a plane‚Äôs fuel tank and caused it to spark and explode. This prompted a demand for planes that have better protection against lightning.

  • Commercial planes are thought to be more likely to be struck by lightning than private planes because non-commercial planes are smaller and have more control over not scheduling flights in bad weather.

  • Throughout the 1980s, NASA purposely flew jets into almost 1,500 thunderstorms to research how to improve aviation lightning safety. The jets were struck by lightning an estimated 700 times.

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More Info: scientificamerican.com

Discuss this Article

anon349889
Post 2

A JET2 Aircraft flying out of Pisa, Italy suffered two lightning strikes in quick succession. Full marks to the pilots, and no, we were so glad to be alive, we didn't mind the lack of food, etc.

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