In-flight Lightning Strike Damage Assessment System

Commercial passenger aircraft are on average struck by lightning once a year. The effects of lightning on aircraft and helicopters are minimal for low-amplitude strikes, but higher-amplitude strikes may result in expensive delays and important repair and maintenance. The present certification threat level is derived from cloud-to-ground lightning strike data measured on instrumented towers. While historically this threat definition has served the purpose of lightning protection adequately on metallic airframes, modern aircraft incorporate an increasing amount of composite materials that make them more susceptible to damage. Moreover, aircraft now employ more high-authority electronic control systems that are susceptible to upset and damage. As a result of the introduction of extra protection measures the advantages of modern materials could be cancelled by the addition of weight and higher cost. To be able to design appropriate lightning protection, fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter manufacturers have a strong need for a good definition of the threat that lightning poses to aircraft. The first objective of the ILDAS research project is to develop and validate a concept prototype of an ILDAS, capable of in-flight measurement of the properties of actual lightning strikes. Such a system gives better knowledge of the actual effects of a lightning strike to a fixed-wing aircraft or a helicopter, which can be used to improve aircraft design. Based on the actual measured properties of a lightning strike, the second objective is to enable the development of tailored and efficient maintenance inspection procedures which must be applied after a recorded strike.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Research institutions undertaking the sub-projects: La Composite S.R.O., Air France, Groupe Socius SA, Office National d'Etudes et de Recherches Aerospatiales, Airbus France SAS, EADS CCR, Lufthansa Technik AG, Eurocopter Deutschland GmbH, Stichting Nationaal Lucht- en Ruimtevaartlaboratorium, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Vector Fields Ltd, and Culham Lightning Ltd.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Aeronautics and Space - Priority Thematic Area 4 (PTA4)

    6th RTD Framework Programme
    European Union
    Brussels,   Belgium 
  • Project Managers:

    Zwemmer, Rob

  • Start Date: 20061001
  • Actual Completion Date: 20090331
  • Source Data: RiP Project 25434

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01461625
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transport Research Knowledge Centre
  • Files: RiP
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 1:49PM