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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Electrifying: The terrifying moment a jet was struck by lightning on approach to Heathrow

By Simon Neville

Highly charged: The Emirates Airbus 380 being hit by lightning

It was an awesome example of nature’s power on a stormy night in London.

As this flight came into Heathrow, a jagged bolt of lightning smashed into the roof, right above the pilots’ heads.

The powerful jolt of electricity passed right through the body of the Airbus A380 before shooting out to continue its journey to the ground.

Amazingly, the Emirates service from Dubai landed safely minutes later, with not even a scratch and its 500 passengers and crew unscathed.

This incredible image was captured on a Saturday night last month by photographer Chris Dawson in south-west London.

‘I saw the storm clouds gathering and I thought the conditions would be perfect for a lightning strike,’ he said.

Plane sailing: The Airbus on a routine take-off. Planes get hit several times a year - they act as a conductor

David Learmount, operations and safety editor of website Flightglobal, is not surprised the Airbus A380, the world’s biggest commercial plane, escaped damage.

‘Planes get hit by lightning several times a year,’ he said. ‘They act as a conductor. Getting a good strike like this can look very dramatic but it might not make any impact.

‘Manufacturers must make aircraft capable of withstanding a lightning strike and protecting those inside.

‘It means the plane’s body must contain metal so it can act as a conductor, allowing the electricity to pass through it.

‘If it didn’t have the metal, the plane could explode when hit.’



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