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NEWS LETTER 15 NOVEMBER 2017

15 Nov 2017

Good day All

 

We woke this morning to the news of the military taking control of the our Northern neighbour Zimbabwe and the news just in that we have lost the bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, truly interesting times we live in. But let’s not get distracted by all these happenings  this weekend seems like quite a busy one general aviation wise.

 

Potgietersrus Microlight Club and Limpopo Flight School, invites all aviators and pilots from all over for a Bosveld Fly-in weekend from 17 to 19 November 2017 at Potgietersrus Airfield. The  Friday night is normally a Bosveld Braai, or potjie, and the main event will be on Saturday where we'll have some meat on the spit...We will also make a great Bosveld Breakfast on the Saturday morning. Everyone is welcome.  Microlights, LSA, Gyro's etc. 

 

SAPFA  will be hosting  a Fun Rally Baragwanath airfield on Saturday 17 November , these aer always well organised and lots of fun. Come join and test your skill at precision flying and navigation .

Cape Town Flight Training Centre will have an Open Day at the Fisantekraal airfield on Saturday 18 November . Come fly a circuit with one of our experienced instructors for only R300 per person or R480 for 2 people. Bookings are essential.

 

The Safety First Aviator campaign is in full swing in Limpopo at the moment if in any way possible please try and get to them, definitely well worth the time.

 

With all the thunder storms around I thought this article would be interesting by Lizzie Porter, travel writer

 

What happens when lightning hits an aeroplane?

It’s a moment that not even particularly nervous fliers dread. You're tucked up under your airline blanket, nose in book, when, suddenly, a flash of bright light streaks through the aeroplane. You – well, the plane with you in it – has been struck by lightning. But do you need to panic, brace, or reach for a lifejacket?

 

In an incident this week, Air New Zealand flight NZ433, bound for Wellington, was struck and had to turn back to Auckland as a "precautionary measure" to undergo standard checks before returning to service. Passengers were put onto a different plane and, despite assurances from the airline that lightning strikes are very common, some were reportedly apprehensive about heading back up into stormy skies.

 

So what actually happens when lightning hits an aeroplane, and why are they not seriously damaged?

Typically, a bolt will hit an extremity, such as a wing tip, or the nose, and the current will travel through the aeroplane’s metal shell before leaving from another point – the tail, for example. And, according to Patrick Smith, pilot and author of Cockpit Confidential, a book on “everything you need to know about air travel”, planes are hit by lightning far more frequently than you might think.

 “An individual jet liner is struck about once every two years, on average”, and aeroplanes are designed accordingly. “Once in a while there’s exterior damage – a superficial entry or exit wound – or minor injury to the plane’s electrical systems, but a strike typically leaves little or no evidence.” You might not even notice it, he says.

 

Professor Mamu Haddad, professor and director at Cardiff University's Morgan-Botti Lightning Laboratory, which works on understanding lightning strikes on aeroplane construction materials, explains further.

Modern aircraft, he says, are made from lightweight carbon composite covered with a thin layer of copper – Dreamliners and Boeing Airbus A350s have this construction – and act as very good Faraday Cages, meaning that the space inside the metal (ie where you’re sitting) – is protected from electric currents.

Most important, he adds, is that the fuel tanks in the wings are not exposed to any lightning sparks – hence why the surrounding metal, structural joints, access doors, vents and fuel filler caps must be able to withstand any burning from a bolt of lightning, which can have temperatures of up to 30,000C.

 

Strikes are most likely to happen when a jet is passing through cumulonimbus (storm) clouds, between two and five kilometres (6,500-16,500 feet) from the ground. And, like Patrick Smith, Prof Haddad says that fliers need not be concerned.

 “Lightning can be up to 200,000 amps – at a low current people might hear noise, or see a flash of light through the window, but they won’t feel anything," he said. "One effect on the aircraft body might be some local melting, where the lightning struck, but the aerospace industry is highly conservative, and testing so rigorous, that passengers aren’t at risk.”

 

Rare though they may be, there have been a few fatal incidents involving lightning strikes, however. In January 2014, four charred bodies were reportedly pulled from plane wreckage in Indonesia after a light aircraft owned by Intan Angkasa Air was hit by lightning and crashed. Bambang Ervan, an Indonesian transport ministry spokesman, confirmed to an Australian news site that all four people on board the aircraft were killed instantly. 

 

In 2010, two people were killed when a Boeing 737-700 from Bogota was struck by lightning and split into three pieces as it landed at San Andres island in the Caribbean.

 

At the time, aeronautical specialists explained that the lightning alone was unlikely to be the cause of the accident, but combined with a sharp change in wind direction, or an air pocket linked to lightning when a plane is near the ground, it could cause a crash.Another serious case, resulting in 81 deaths, happened in 1963, when a lightning strike over Maryland caused a wing to explode on a Boeing 707 flown by Pan Am. The Federal Aviation Administration, the US equivalent of the Civil Aviation Authority, subsequently introduced changes to fuel tanks and discharge wicks aboard all aircraft. But non-fatal incidents are far more common, thanks largely to modern safety measures. Famous cases include the flight taken by François Hollande, the French President, to crucial talks with Angela Merkel in Germany in 2012.

The presidential Falcon 7X was struck by lightning just four minutes into the flight; Mr Hollande eventually arrived in Berlin 90 minutes late, on a different plane.

 

Patrick Smith remembers having a close encounter with lighting when he was at the helm of a 37-seat aeroplane. Incredibly only two died in this lightning-related incident in Bogota Incredibly only two died in this lightning-related incident in “Lightning from a tiny embedded cumulonimbus cell got us on the nose," he told Telegraph Travel. “What we felt and heard was little more than a dull flash and a thud. No warning lights flashed, no generators tripped off line. Our conversation went: ‘What was that?

‘I don’t know.’

‘Lightning?’

‘Might have been.’

Mechanics would later find a black smudge on the forward fuselage.” In other words, an incident is likely to be over in a flash, literally, leaving passengers on board to get back to that in-flight film. It’s often those on the next flight who could be delayed, as the plane undergoes post-lightning safety checks.

Have a great SAFE weekend 

Garth 

 

 

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