Photos of damage to the fuselage of an American Airlines Boeing 787-9, registration N839AA, caused by a lightning strike, are spreading through social media. The incident occurred on Monday’s Tokyo Narita to Dallas – Fort Worth flight.
The plane, originally delivered in October 2018, has been on the ground in Dallas since the – and should remain there for some time as work is done on the aircraft.
Photos show fuselage damage to an American Airlines 787 after being hit by lightning. Date/time currently unknown. pic.twitter.com/0fbzCm81DH
— Breaking Aviation News & Videos (@aviationbrk) February 24, 2023
Aviation watchdog JonNYC describes the work that is expected to be done to the aircraft to restore it to operational condition.
…787 work so there's no need to send it to Tulsa
it's described as a bad lightning strike but the 787 has a known issue with those. They'll probably install a titanium doubler (patch) on top.
— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) February 25, 2023
Jon also notes that “the 787 has a known issue with” lightning strikes. While on average it’s said that every commercial plane is struck by lightning at least once a year, I believe it’s been over 40 years since a crash has been attributed to a lightning strike. The fuselage of a plane will conduct electricity and allow it to trasmit from the strike and generally out the tail.
However Boeing actually reduced lightning protection in the wings of 787s in order to reduce costs and speed deliveries. They maintain that safety has not been compromised.
Here’s video from an Australian domestic Boeing 787 flight’s lightning strike.
Video shows Jetstar 787 damage from a lightning strike during a flight from Melbourne to the Gold Coast earlier this month. The aircraft has been taken out of service for up to two months. https://t.co/mlisXjSSub
📹 SMH/The Age pic.twitter.com/kuueAqDEMa
— Breaking Aviation News & Videos (@aviationbrk) May 17, 2022
And photos from a past American Airlines Boeing 787 lightning strike:
lightning strike on the 787 pic.twitter.com/ag4pZPd6nz
— AA ✈️ (@dfwholt) July 30, 2016
Deliveries of new Boeing 787s were halted this week for analysis of an issue with the fuselage. Deliveries of the aircraft were last paused from May 2021 through August 2022.