Lightning is a natural phenomenon that occurs when there is a discharge of electricity between two electrically charged regions. It is a common occurrence in the Earth’s atmosphere, particularly during thunderstorms. While lightning is a fascinating natural occurrence, it poses a potential risk to aircraft during flight. This is why the Boeing 737, like many other modern aircraft, has specific measures in place to protect against the effects of lightning strikes.
How Does Lightning Protection Work on the Boeing 737?
The Boeing 737 is equipped with a comprehensive lightning protection system that ensures the safety of the aircraft and the passengers on board. The protection system is designed to divert the electrical current from a lightning strike away from critical components of the aircraft, such as the fuel tanks and the avionics systems.
To achieve this, the Boeing 737 incorporates several lightning protection features:
The Lightning Diverter Strips
The lightning diverter strips, often referred to as static wicks or static discharge wicks, are an essential component of the Boeing 737’s lightning protection system. These strips are installed on various surfaces of the aircraft, including the wings, the tail, and the fuselage. The purpose of these strips is to provide a controlled path for the electrical current of a lightning strike to follow.
These strips are made of materials with high electrical conductivity, such as copper or aluminum. When a lightning strike occurs, the electrical current is attracted to these strips and is safely conducted away from the critical components of the aircraft. This helps to prevent any damage that the lightning strike may cause and ensures the continued safe operation of the aircraft.
The Bonding and Grounding System
An important aspect of the Boeing 737’s lightning protection system is its bonding and grounding system. This system ensures that the aircraft’s structure is electrically conductive and connected to the ground. It allows the electrical current from a lightning strike to be safely dissipated into the ground without causing any harm.
The bonding and grounding system of the Boeing 737 involves the use of conductive cables and bonding straps. These components are strategically placed throughout the aircraft to create a continuous conductive path. This path allows the electrical current from a lightning strike to flow through the conductive components and be directed safely into the ground.
Surge Suppressors and Lightning Protection Devices
In addition to the lightning diverter strips and the bonding and grounding system, the Boeing 737 also utilizes surge suppressors and lightning protection devices. These devices are designed to further protect critical electrical and electronic systems on the aircraft.
Surge suppressors are installed in the aircraft’s electrical system to suppress sudden increases in voltage that may occur as a result of a lightning strike. These devices help to prevent damage to the aircraft’s electrical components and systems.
Lightning protection devices, on the other hand, are specifically designed to provide additional protection to sensitive avionics systems against the effects of lightning strikes. These devices are installed in strategic locations within the aircraft and help to redirect and dissipate the electrical current from a lightning strike, minimizing the risk of damage.
Lightning poses a potential risk to aircraft during flight, and the Boeing 737, like other modern aircraft, has measures in place to protect against the effects of lightning strikes. The lightning protection system on the Boeing 737 includes lightning diverter strips, a bonding and grounding system, surge suppressors, and lightning protection devices.
These features work together to ensure that the electrical current from a lightning strike is safely diverted away from critical components of the aircraft, minimizing the risk of damage and ensuring the continued safe operation of the aircraft.
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