Sun, Jun 20, 2010
Not Planned, But The Airplane Was Not Significantly
One of Boeing's Dreamliner test airplanes was hit by a lightning
strike during a test flight last month, but damage to the airplane
The strike happened during a thunderstorm near Boeing Field.
Bloomberg News reports that 787 program head Scott Francher said
that the fuselage, wings, and systems all appeared to be
The airplane's largely composite construction made lightning
protection a particular challenge for Boeing's engineers. They
embedded a copper mesh under the outer layer of skin that would
disperse electrical current from lightning in much the same way
that a traditional airliner's aluminum skin does. That mesh is
strategically placed in the nose, wings, and tail, the areas most
commonly struck by lightning during flight.
Lightning tests were always a part of the plan for the
Dreamliner, but they were intended to be simulated on the ground.
"We won't intentionally look for lightning in the sky," said Boeing
spokeswoman Yvonne leach.
But chief project engineer Mike Delaney said the lightning
strikes during test flights are reassuring to the public, and
expected. "My personal wish is that these test airplanes get struck
a lot," he said last year.
So far, that's one.
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