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Thread: Storm and Planes

  1. #1 Storm and Planes 
    Forum Ph.D. Heinsbergrelatz's Avatar
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    sorry, i know this doesnt really relate to physics much, but does storms necessarily cause a significant damage to passenger planes such as Boeing, or airbus?

    And how safe are boeings, and airbuses these days?

    it will be great if you guys could comment and give me some info. on this thank you


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  3. #2  
    Forum Freshman Nabla's Avatar
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    There are two main factors; lightning, and turbulence.

    The shells on most aircraft will short any lightning strikes away from critical systems like electrical and fuel supply/storage systems, so lightning will rarely bring down down a plane directly - although it has been known to happen.

    As for turbulence, modern planes are designed to withstand a certain amount. For example wings and tailplanes are not rigidly attached, and are often made, and attached with composite materials which allow some bending of the surfaces without failure under turbulent crossflows. You can notice this flexing when looking out the window at the wings when flying through turbulence - in fact I've flown through some fairly severe storms myself over the French alps.

    Of course, in extreme cases like tropical superstorms and such, the plane can only take so much and will ultimately fail. Nowadays, such developing storms can be detected and avoided by radar anyway, so the pilot simply flys around them.

    One of the biggest dangers is turbulent/bad weather at landing and take-off - after all this is the point where the plane makes and breaks contact with the ground! This depends on the skill of the pilot.


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  4. #3  
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    Meteorologists have been flying big research planes (usually cargo planes) that are packed with scientific instruments into hurricanes to take measurements for a long time. So far as I know, they don't make any special efforts to reinforce the planes. It's apparently a wild ride, but not considered particularly dangerous.

    Which kind of makes sense if you think about it, because the planes are already designed to fly at 500+ mph, which is far "windier" that any natural wind they would ever run into in a storm.
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