Hawaiian Airlines in the news today when lightning strikes plane from Maui. Flight 30 was returning to Seattle late last night when it was hit by a lightning bolt. The flight landed safely albeit with very shaken up passengers.
This occurred as a storm passed through Western Washington, bringing with it heavy rains and massive lightning.
The plane was on approach to SeaTac airport after 11:00 pm when it crossed through the storm. Passengers reported violent turbulence followed by a bright flash and cracking sound off the right side of the plane. They were advised by the pilot that the A330 aircraft had been hit by lightning.
Hawaiian Airlines officials also confirmed the event. The plane underwent inspection and the return flight to Maui was delayed approximately 5 hours.
Should You Be Concerned About Your Flight to Hawaii?
It is typical for a lightning bolt to hit an aircraft extremity such as a wing tip. Aircraft are struck far more frequently than we think, some say up to once each year, per commercial aircraft. Planes are designed specifically to withstand such bolts and damage is relatively rare.
While incidents as a result of lightning are uncommon, a Boeing 737 was struck in 2010, killing two people on landing at San Andreas Island in the Caribbean. When lightning incidents do occur, it is usually not the lightning by itself, but rather associated storm and wind that results in the damage. In 1963, a Pan Am plane was struck by lightning that resulted in the death of 81 passengers. That accident led to subsequent changes in aircraft design related to fuel tanks and related equipment. The most recent civil aviation crash in the U.S. caused by lightning was in 1967, when a strike caused a fuel tank explosion. Since then airplanes both changed and now receive thorough lightning certification to confirm the the safety of their designs.
Have you ever been on a plane that was struck by lightning? Jeff has and he reports it was a truly terrifying experience.
Kudos to Hawaiian Airlines.