The title is the question. Is it something to do with batteries on a plane? I’ve tried Google but all the listings are “what happens when lightning hits a plane”

So why does it happen I want to know?


  • \$\begingroup\$ Most all airplanes have metal in them, and lightning is attracted to metal, grounded or flying. \$\endgroup\$ – Sparky256 Jun 2 '18 at 23:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm afraid this question is off-topic here, as it is not about the design of electronic devices. You may want to try the Physics Stack Exchange at physics.stackexchange.com instead. \$\endgroup\$ – duskwuff Jun 2 '18 at 23:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @duskwuff If the question is on topic on the other site, then send a request to get it migrated, if you tell people to try the other site, then they may try to cross post \$\endgroup\$ – laptop2d Jun 8 '18 at 14:14

Lightning is caused by the rapid and very high current discharge between one charged cloud and another or to ground. The metal skin and structure of an airplane provides a lower resistance path than the surrounding air. It is the preferred path.

Is it something to do with batteries on a plane?

No. The plane acts as a Faraday cage and the skin protects the on-board electrics to a large extent.

Why does lighting hit a plane when it's not grounded?

It doesn't have to be grounded. It just has to be close to the path of the lightning.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @hoboBob: Please unaccept my answer for a day or two to see if other better answers come in. By accepting it quickly you discourage others. (I'm not an expert in aviation or lightning.) Your question might be closed though in a while as being off-topic. \$\endgroup\$ – Transistor Jun 3 '18 at 0:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ answer is good and well explained ! \$\endgroup\$ – Solar Mike Jun 3 '18 at 6:09

The triboelectric effect exists from high velocity conducting wings with friction with static bearing dust.

The biggest problem is the insulated turbine bearings get pitted from induced ESD or lighting nearby arcs , which requires routine maintenance and if struck inducing current thru the turbine can seize the engine bearings overheating then triggering a fire.

2nd biggest is electronic failures for which there exist protection mechanisms and redundant instruments but can still fail.


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