Ask any resident electrician in Perth, ask any resident electrician anywhere, and they’ll tell you that handling electricity is dangerous, especially larger amounts. And there is no greater natural example, no greater natural electrical danger than lightning.
Virgin Airlines and Aerocare, after an incident wherein lightning strikes injured several crew members near the runways of the Perth Airport, have decided to make changes to their safety measures and precautions, in an effort to prevent a repeat of the incident. The incident in question happened on the Sydney, had its tail struck by lightning.
The electrical charge then travelled throughout the wiring in the plane, with discharge assaulting a ramp supervisor, resulting in him losing consciousness. The discharge then injured another crew member, this one on the ground, inflicting bury injuries. The electrical charge that injured both crew members managed to travel due to a connected headset on the plane’s intercom jack, located near the airplane’s nose landing gear.
According to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the captain reported turbulent weather, such as lightning activity and small storm cells, north of the airport before landing. The plane landed safely on the tarmac, but was forced to stay on the runway due to an occupied bay. It was during this timeframe that the airplane was struck by lightning resulting incident.
The ATSB stated that safety is top priority, and should not be affected by operational requirements. They emphasize that taking note of local conditions and making decisions based on careful consideration as an important part of ensuring the safety of everyone.
The bureau has ruled out equipment malfunction, as the airport’s detection system was functioning properly, but failed to take note of any ground strikes before the incident. According to ATSB, operational pressure and a number of other variables were the influence for the ramp supervisor’s eagerness to restart ramp duties as soon as possible, which led to the aforementioned incident.
Since that incident, Perth Airport has implemented a thunderstorm warning system, designed to provide clear alerts to personnel, crews and passengers when it was unsafe to be on the ramp. Meanwhile, Aerocare also made some changes, setting up a rule that prevents any aircraft-connect headsets if lightning has been reported within a 19 kilometre radius of an airport, whilst Virgin Airlines have provided additional weather and flight planning training to its crews and utilizing wireless headsets.
Any resident electrician in Perth will tell you that an incident of that nature is avoidable, and, if worse comes to pass, survivable, if the right safety precautions are taken.