The Interaction of Lightning with Aircraft and the Challenges of Lightning Testing


D. Morgan, C. J. Hardwick, S. J. Haigh and A. J. Meakins (Cobham)

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Aircraft are struck by lightning in flight with some regularity and are required to have demonstrated protection against this threat; much of this demonstration is provided by simulating in test the effects of lightning on aircraft structures, components and systems. Clearly these tests need to be carried out in a representative manner and guidance on how to do this is provided in the Aerospace lightning standards and guidance materials produced by the SAE/EUROCAE committees. Nevertheless, there are challenges; for example, due to dramatic differences in both scale and conditions between a lab and the inside of a cloud, achieving sufficient representation of every aspect of the lightning phenomena can be difficult. Before considering these challenges we discuss the phenomenology and effects of lightning and how they are addressed in the lightning standards, in order to provide some background.