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At 7:19 p.m., a Dash 8 on a 4-mi. final for Runway 26R at Vancouver was struck by lightning. The aircraft landed safely.

Fifteen minutes later, a Boeing 767 on an 8-mi. final for the same runway was also struck by lightning. This aircraft also landed safely.

Ten minutes later, yet another aircraft, a Boeing 737 4 mi. back from the same runway threshold, was struck by lightning, but it too landed safely.

So, over a 25-min. period, there were three approaches and three lightning strikes.
How many other aircraft pressed on, unscathed, through the thunderstorms during the evening rush hour?

The three unfortunates who were struck were all equipped with weather radar. It is hard to believe that, flying through an area of active cumulonimbus clouds (CBs), the pilots did not have the scopes lit up; that pilots would deliberately push through active CBs on the approach path that the first pilot did not report the strike immediately; that the controller did not warn off the other arriving aircraft; and that the following pilots chose not to hold until the storm had passed.

The lightning could easily have fried the aircrafts electronics, and the potential hazards of hail, severe turbulence and windshear were all there.

Is meeting the schedule worth the risks?

Originally Published: ASL 3/1997
Original Article: Struck by Lightning

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We would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada for this initiative through the Search and Rescue New Initiative Fund (SAR NIF).