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Monday, April 13, 2015

Lightning leaves a hold in the plane ~ flies undetected for hours !!!!

In some movies, we have seen fights taking on board aircrafts.  Guns would be brandished and there would be exchange of bullets .... bullets on the body of a plane may not cause severe damage – but if it blows through window, it could spell big trouble.  When the window blows, the plane will depressurize over the course of several seconds. Since all of the air in the cockpit is rushing toward the missing window, a lot of debris will be heading in that direction with it. The persons and objects could get pushed out .... or so, is what we have seen and perceived through movies. 

Similar could be the fate, when someone opens the door !   when someone actually manages to open the door of a large passenger aircraft at high altitude, the cabin would lose pressure – extremely rapidly – and chaos would ensue.  In July 2013, there were reports of a drunken Sri Lankan cricketer causing  panic on a packed British Airways passenger flight when he tried to open the cabin door at 35,000ft.  In his stupor he tugged away for up to two minutes at the exterior door before telling BA cabin crew on board the packed Boeing 777 that he had mistaken it for the toilet  !  - it was on board flight BA 2158 with 229 passengers on board as the Sri Lankan cricket team flew back high over the Atlantic ocean from St Lucia to London Gatwick after playing against the West Indies in the Tri Nations Tour.

Even instances of slow decompression can be fatal. In 2005 a Boeing 737 operated by Helios Airways crashed, killing all 121 passengers and crew, after a gradual loss of cabin pressure. The lack of oxygen at 30,000 feet left the crew incapacitated, and the plane – on auto-pilot – slowly ran out of fuel, before plunging to the ground. In such instances, oxygen masks (with enough oxygen to last several minutes) should drop from the ceiling to stave off hypoxia (a lack of oxygen, which leads to sluggish thinking, dimmed visions, unconsiousness and then death).

Sometimes when it rains, you get to hear the thunderstorms and see lightning. Lightning is the transient passage of electrical current between a cloud and either the surface of the earth, or another cloud, etc.  Lightning is one of the most beautiful displays in nature. It is also one of the most deadly natural phenomena known to man. With bolt temperatures hotter than the surface of the sun and shockwaves beaming out in all directions, lightning is a lesson in physical science and humility.  It is common knowledge that lightning is generated in electrically charged storm systems, but the method of cloud charging still remains elusive.  For an Insurer, Lightning is a peril and cause loss or damage. In India, the Standard Fire & Special Perils policy ~ a named Perils policy has ‘lightning’ included in the listed perils and hence loss or damage caused  by lightning is indemnifiable.

Now read this interesting news [as reported in MailOnline and many other news sites]  of lightning striking and leaving a massive hole in the nose of a plane ~ but pilots not noticing the same and carrying on with eight-hour flight !!

Passengers of an Icelandair flight to Denver on Tuesday were left in a bit of shock after their plane was struck by lightning shortly after takeoff. Though the Boeing 757 continued its 3,700-mile journey from Reykjavik, Iceland, to Denver, it wasn't until the plane landed that passengers and crew were aware of a gaping hole in the nose of the plane.  The hole was at a point in the plane where weather radars are housed, but the plane landed safely in Denver and no one was injured. It is unknown how many people were on board.

A passenger is quoted as saying that the lightning 'shook the plane and it was bright'. 'Everybody kind of got tense and we all jumped and looked at each other,' he  told FOX31.  The journey from Reykjavik to Denver is about 3,740 miles. Passengers on the plane said the lightning struck shortly after takeoff;  Pilots reported the lighting but continued on with the eight-hour flight to Denver. The plane landed safely and no one was injured. 

Aviation experts said that lightning strikes to commercial planes happen one to five times per year, according to 9News, and modern aircraft are equipped to handle these strikes. Metropolitan State University of Denver aviation professor Jeff Price said that lightning strikes that damage a plane, however, are rare. 'It could be one of those weird "acts of God" where it hit at the right point. The important thing is the plane landed safely,' Price said.

A spokesman from Icelandair said  that the aircraft handling characteristics and notification systems were unaffected and the flight continued.  The plane has been removed from service and will be inspected and repaired and Iceland's FAA equivalent will be responsible of the investigation.  

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

13th Apr 2015.

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