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What happens when lightening strikes a plane?

Have you ever been in a plane that was struck by lightning? It happens to the average plane about once a year. It’s a terrifying experience to be sure, but the passengers inside are actually completely safe, due to some smart design elements in airplanes. Most planes are made of aluminum and the ones that are not usually still contain metal frames. This metal framing acts as a conductor so that when electricity enters it at any point it spreads across all metal parts. This is called the skin effect, because the metal exterior of the plane acts as a skin, keeping the electricity from reaching the inside or the plane and hurting the people or instruments inside.  Lightning can still harm planes though, as a powerful strike can cause a hole in the metal exterior of the plane. The real fear though isn’t holes in the plane or the electrocution of passengers, but electric interference with pilot’s instruments. To combat this potential disaster, all instruments are grounded to the metal exterior of the plane, and most especially delicate ones will have extra metal poles near them to divert electricity and essentially act like minuscule lightening rods. 


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