Video: Sao Paulo Runway Damaged By Direct Lightning Strike – Simple Flying


Sao Paulo’s runway 09R/27L was closed after a lightning strike impacted the asphalt. The lightning left a crater in the ground, as can be seen in a video posted on social media.

Guarulhos Airport Getty Brazil
A lightning strike runway 09R/27L in Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport. Photo: Getty Images

What happened?

On March 8, at around 15:38 local time, a lightning strike impacted runway 09R/27L. The video of the event was published by the Youtube account Golf Oscar Romeo.

According to tracking websites, there were no delays in the flights arriving in Sao Paulo due to the runway strike.

According to Radarbox.com, between 15:20 and 15:50, there were no departures from Sao Paulo. There seems to have been only one flight at this timeframe affected by the incident. LATAM’s domestic operation between Sao Paulo and Cuiabá landed at its destination about 30 minutes later. Still, it is not clear if the lightning strike had something to do directly with the delay.

The lightning strike left a hole in the runway. Nevertheless, it is not the first time something like this happens worldwide.

Last year, the maintenance crews at Pittsburgh International Airport had to repair one of the runways after a bolt of lightning struck it. According to CBS Pittsburgh, the impact left a three by a three-foot hole in runway 10L/28R.

This time, though, the crater at Sao Paulo’s airport seems a little bit bigger. Nevertheless, the airport is now fully open.

About Sao Paulo’s Airport

Runway 09R/27L is one of the two runways Guarulhos International Airport has. It is the shortest, as well. It is 3,000 meters (9,843 ft.) long and 45 meters (148 ft.) wide. Meanwhile, runway 09L/27R is 3,700 meters (12,140 ft.) long and 60 meters (200 ft.) wide.

The latter was widened in 2015 to better receive the Airbus A380. The airport authorities made this adjustment to serve better Emirates, which uses its A380 fleet between Dubai and Sao Paulo, according to Todos A Bordo.

The two runways are made with asphalt. Moreover, 09R/27L, the lightened one, is preferentially used for takeoffs.

Guarulhos is the most important airport in Brazil. In 2020, it received 20% of the whole passenger traffic in the South American country. Nearly 20 million travelers went through this Sao Paulo’s airport. A year prior, in 2019, Guarulhos received 42.25 million passengers.

GOL Linhas Aereas and LATAM Brazil use Guarulhos as its main hub. Meanwhile, Azul does operate a significant percentage of its flights from Guarulhos but has also decentralized the air transport industry across Brazil.

Azul and TAM Getty
Azul, LATAM, and GOL operate many flights out of Guarulhos International Airport. Photo: Getty Images.

What happens when a plane is hit by lightning

One thing is that a bolt of lightning strikes on a runway, but what happens when it does on an aircraft? It’s actually more common than one might think.

Nevertheless, one should not worry about it. The fuselage is designed to act as a Faraday cage, protecting the inside of the plane. Meanwhile, the flash travels along the aircraft.

Sometimes, lightning events may interfere with instruments, but more often than not, nothing happens. Out of 3,000 aircraft incidents since 2000, only eight of them were caused by lightning, published Interesting Engineering in an article from 2019.

What do you think of what happened in Sao Paulo? Let us know in the comments.



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