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Is it dangerous for an airplane to be struck by lightning?

There are many things that people fear when boarding a plane, whether it is their first flight or their 100th. Turbulence, unruly passengers and malfunctioning equipment can top the list of frightening scenarios. You and other New York residents may also worry about flying in poor weather, especially during a thunderstorm. Just how risky is it for a plane to fly through lightning, you may wonder?

The answer may surprise you. According to Time, commercial airplanes are struck by lightning on a regular basis. The fact that news of an airplane crash caused by a lightning strike is rare, if not almost unheard of, can be a relief. In fact, the last U.S. commercial plane crash confirmed to have been caused by lightning was in 1967. Reportedly, the fuel tank exploded when the plane was struck. Since then, advances in aircraft design and safety features have reduced the dangers of a lightning strike during flight.

Today's commercial airplanes are designed to conduct a lightning arc across the outer shell of a plane. Usually, the energy of a strike exits at the tail end of the airplane. A craft's electrical components are grounded so electric arcs do not form. Additionally, lightning is prevented from getting inside a plane. If a lightning strike occurs during flight, the airplane is carefully inspected after landing, but in most cases there is little to no damage.

This information may put your mind at ease if lightning has been one of your fears of flying. However, since a faulty aircraft design may hold a company liable for injuries, this blog should not replace the advice of a lawyer.

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