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Thu, Dec 07, 2006

Fokker 100 Lighting Strike Much Worse Than Thought

Crew Lands Stricken Aircraft Despite Widespread Damage

A Fokker 100 (photo of type below) hit by lightning last December near Darwin Australia suffered more extensive damage than the crew suspected.

According to an Australian Transport Safety Bureau report, the aircraft was on its way to Darwin from Indonesia with 14 pax and 5 crew aboard.

ATC directed the crew to hold about 50 NM south of Darwin and wait for a thunderstorm to clear away from the airport. As the aircraft circled at 16,000 AGL in IMC it was struck by lightning. The crew reported they were between six and eight miles from the nearest storm cell.

A fluid low warning light for the number two hydraulic system illuminated 20 minutes later. With their attention now on the system, the crew noticed the number one system quantity also dropping.

The pilot was given priority handling and headed immediately for the airport. By the time the crew got the jet on the ground, the number one hydraulic system warning light had also illuminated.

Aside from the fluid quantity indications, the crew didn't notice anything out of the ordinary and landed the aircraft uneventfully.

A post-flight inspection revealed two fluid return lines and a hydraulic union damaged by the lighting strike. They also found two large holes in the fuselage along with some 90 other damage zones on the fuselage, landing gear doors, and wing and elevator trailing edges.

A later inspection found melting damage to the elevator control cables.

The report says the operator repaired the aircraft it was subsequently returned to service.

FMI: www.atsb.gov.au

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