In the event of storms or thunderstorms, some flights will be cancelled, while others can take place as planned. Of obvious interest to you as a passenger is what happens to an aircraft in difficult weather. So how do storms and thunderstorms affect aircraft?
Fly in a storm
Passengers often worry when the aircraft moves violently in stronger air currents and the wings adapt even more to these currents. But that is exactly what they are built for, not to be rigidly connected to the hull. In storms, this property of adaptation comes into play.
However, it is true that an airplane can only cope with the updrafts and downdrafts in a storm to a certain extent. Therefore, storm zones are flown around and, in extreme cases, a flight has to be canceled or the plane has to land unscheduled.
When flying through a storm, the speed is reduced. In general, crosswinds are the biggest problem during takeoff and landing. Modern commercial aircraft are designed for cross wind speeds of up to 80 kilometers per hour.
The fine art of landing in strong winds is to fly sideways into the crosswind, aligning with the runway at the last moment before touchdown. You can easily find impressive videos of such landings on the Internet.
Weather information by radar
Information about the weather at take-off, on the flight route and on landing is essential for the course of a flight. The more problematic the weather conditions are, the more and the more detailed data about the weather situation is required.
On the one hand, a pilot can rely on the on-board radar, which can display precipitation and turbulence without any time delay.
However, data from a weather radar is also publicly available online. on https://wetterradar.org/ such data is kept up-to-date and retrievable at all times. Radar waves are reflected by precipitation clouds and such clouds can therefore be recognized on the radar images.
Flying through a thunderstorm
As on the ground, lightning and thunder are even more of a concern for you as a passenger than a storm.
What happens to an airplane when struck by lightning? You will hear a bang when your plane is struck by lightning. But he hardly does any damage. The metal hull is a so-called Faraday cage and protects the occupants from electrical current. Charges can enter through small openings in the fuselage and damage aircraft systems. However, there is redundancy for the systems and therefore it is practically impossible for flight safety to be significantly affected by a lightning strike. This is reflected in the fact that a passenger plane is struck by lightning on average once a year.
The danger from hailstones, which can also damage a passenger plane, is greater. In order to avoid such weather phenomena, good information about the weather conditions is crucial.
So storms and thunderstorms definitely pose a problem for flight operations, but these can largely be overcome today. Information about these weather phenomena is available and used to choose flight routes accordingly. Only in borderline cases do flights have to be canceled or your pilot decides to do one Landing at another destination airport than the intended one. Quite reassuring is the general view of pilots that their planes can withstand more than the nerves of their passengers.