Plane Get Struck By Lightning Once a Year on Average

By Darren Orf on at

There’s a moment in the Truman Show when Jim Carrey tries to travel to Fiji (and escape his creepy TV show island), when this poster pops up at a travel agency. It’s funny because lightning strikes are such rare occurrences it couldn’t happen that often. Surely, not often enough to necessitate a poster?

Wrong.

Lightning striking an aeroplane happens at an alarming frequency. Quartz reports that on average, planes get struck by lightning once a year. Luckily, the results aren’t nearly as disastrous as the poster implies. In fact, you’d have to go back to 1967 to find the last plane crash caused by a lightning.

That’s because aeroplanes have lightning protection engineers who make sure that equipment and fuel systems are protected from the 30,000 amperes released by the bolt. A plane can withstand much, much more than that. Airliners are so good at taking a hit that passengers may not even notice when a plane’s been struck at all.

According to ABC News, if you get on a flight today, there is a 1 in 1250 chance your plane will get hit. Those are pretty good odds but still 560 times more likely than if you were just standing on ground.

Clearly when in the air, a plane (made of metal) travelling through a soup of storm clouds and charged particles is an easy target. You’re going to get hit. But in modern air travel, it's no biggy.

[Quartz]


This post originally appeared on Factually, a Gizmodo blog for setting the record straight