757 lightning strike inspection

On average, every commercial aircraft is struck by lightning once or twice a year. After the aircraft lands, an inspection must always be performed to assess the state of the aircraft prior to return to service. The Boeing 757 is no exception and here you will learn the ins and outs of lightning strike inspections performed on this aircraft type.

The Boeing 757 first entered service in 1982, with British Airways as one of its launching customers. The aircraft quickly was a huge success in commercial aviation due to its range and general performance. During its production run of 23 years, more than 1,000 aircraft have been delivered worldwide.

How often is a Boeing 757 hit by lightning?

757 lightning strike inspection

Although the production of the Boeing 757 ended in 2005, it is still considered one of the most capable narrow-body aircraft in service. There are still around 500 aircraft in active service.

The Boeing 757 is struck once or twice a year by lightning and given the global fleet in the world, this results in 500 to 1000 lightning strikes per year.

Picture Boeing 757 in turn over the ocean

Are there any incidents with a Boeing 757 caused by lightning strikes?

Picture of B757 Icelandair damaged radome lightning strike

Despite the frequency of lightning strikes, no major aircraft incidents have occurred for the Boeing 757.  

In 2015, Icelandair Flight 671 was hit by a lightning strike shortly after takeoff from Keflavik International Airport in Reykjavik, Iceland. The lightning strike caused the tearing of the protective skin of the aircraft. As the standard protocol post-lightning strike states, the pilots checked all the systems to evaluate the safety of the aircraft and continued the 3,740-mile journey to Denver. After landing, the lightning strike inspection revealed a hole in the aircraft’s nose. Marked with the word Herðubreið, the name of an extinct volcano in Icelandic Northern Highlands, the aircraft was repaired and returned to service. 

How many man-hours does it take to perform a lightning strike inspection on a Boeing 757?

757 lightning strike inspection

After the aircraft is struck by lightning, the aircraft is grounded and thoroughly inspected for damage such as pits and burn marks by aircraft maintenance engineers to guarantee its airworthiness before the next flight. The inspection alone requires 2 licensed aircraft maintenance engineers and 8 hours to complete. The total man-hours for a Boeing 757 lightning strike inspection are 16 hours.

To assess the status of the aircraft, the aircraft maintenance engineers will move from station to station, from stringer to stringer, using additional equipment to inspect the top of the fuselage and the tail. The tail is 16 meters high and not easy to reach while the aircraft elevators and stabilizers are blocking the man lifter equipment. Often during the inspection, additional damage can be caused.

Picture of Aircraft lightning strike inspection engineers

How does a drone fit in the aircraft lightning strike inspection process of a Boeing 757?

Picture showing Mainblades drone at Boeing aircraft

The use of drones for aircraft inspections brings game-changing results for the aviation industry and particularly Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) companies and organizations. All aspects of the inspection procedure, from drone flight to report generation, are automated, allowing the ground team to easily analyze and report the status of an aircraft.

In the event of a lightning strike, using a drone to perform aircraft inspection on the Boeing 757 can decrease the inspection time by 60%. A drone can speed up the entire process of the General Visual Inspection (GVI) during a lightning strike inspection, which can now be performed in minutes (60 minutes) instead of hours (8 hours). Our drone will safely fly around the aircraft and capture high-resolution pictures, allowing aircraft maintenance engineers to make a much faster damage assessment.