Hi Captain Lim,
You should have by now heard about the Kenya Airways Boeing 737-800 that went down just after 5 minutes of departure, and still no news on any survivors among the 114 on-board. I have been reading on the story and after thinking much about it, I can only come up with two possible reasons why the plane went down. The plane was only about 6 months old. Other than pilot error or a faulty alarm, the other possibility is that the plane might have been struck by lightning, since it took off from Cameroon, when there were heavy thunderstorms.
That brings me to the question. Not sure if you have ever addressed this before, but do planes have a way to avoid lightning strikes? Arrestors or anything? Is it possible for a lightning strike to either ignite a plane's engine or cause electrical surges and the plane shutting down?
Department of Environmental Sciences.
West Texas A&M University.
Yes, the tragic crash of a second Boeing 737-800 after the mid air collision of a similar one over the Amazon jungle in Brazil in September 2006, have certainly caused many to scratch their heads and wonder, how it could have happened on this *Next Generation* plane. Well, as I have mentioned in some of my Air Safety FAQs, air crashes can be attributed to many causes. Whilst the investigators are in the process in determining the cause from the "black box", there are bound to be many speculations as to what brought it down.
You mentioned about the possibility of lightning strikes. I have covered this topic in previous FAQ.
At this point of time, all I can say about this Next Generation Boeing 737-800 is that, is it a good and reliable airplane. You can see a response in my previous FAQ on the comparison of this plane with the Airbus A320 whereupon I wrote this paragraph:
"The B737NG (Next Generation) models were developed when Boeing realized that they were losing grounds technologically to the A320. The 737NG, which includes the -600, -700, -800 and ?900 variants, is an entirely new aircraft, sharing very little with previous B737s other than the fuselage frame. New wings, new avionics and revised engines were the biggest engineering changes. So, a good comparison between the planes must be put into the correct perspective in order to be realistic as the NG planes, which were developed later, were catching up on the A320s."
We do not know what really happened to the plane until the flight data and cockpit voice recorder (FDR/CVR) have been recovered and analyzed. The FDR will reveal the malfunctions, if any, and how the pilots responded to each situation. The CVR will record all the communications between the pilots up to the time of the crash. From these data, investigators would be able to paint a better picture of the events leading to the catastrophe.
As regards to the Boeing 737-800, it has been a fast selling aircraft and constitutes the bulk of aircraft orders for the Boeing 737- family. As of October 2002 (latest figures not available yet), 1028 of these planes had been ordered and 664 delivered. Up to date, Ryanair, having ordered 150 of them, is the largest operator of this type. The aircraft is popular because of its fuel economy, capacity and range. It can carry up to 189 passengers in a single class or 162 in two-class configuration.
Till we get the official finding of the crash, I would not like to speculate on what had caused the accident.