Dreamliner ZA005 in clearer skies

Susanna Ray of Bloomerg reported that Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner survived its first lightning strike without damage. The incident occurred last month, as the composite-plastic jet was flying near Boeing Field, when it was unexpectedly hit by a lightning strike during a rare convergence zone thunderstorm. Scott Fancher, vice president of the 787 Dreamliner program, reported to Bloomberg that the aircraft’s systems, fuselage and wings all appeared to be unscathed.

“Post-flight inspections revealed absolutely no damage,” said Fancher. “I walked around the airplane an hour after it landed and you couldn’t tell a thing had happened.”

Engineers are still studying how lightning affects the 787, the first jetliner to be built mostly from composite materials instead of traditional aluminum. The Dreamliner is more dependent on electricity for controls and other systems, with power levels five times higher than on Boeing’s 767.

Scheduled lightning-strike simulations and tests, mostly on the ground, are planned later this year as Boeing completes the U.S. certification for the plane to carry passengers.

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