However, precautions taken and advanced lightning conductor systems minimize the negative effects of lightning strike. The probability of exposure to lightning strike for an aircraft is proportional with the geographical location of the flight and how often landing and takeoff phases which are the phases that an aircraft is mostly exposed to lightning strike are performed. Lightning activities can show great difference based on the geographical location. In regions near equator, lightning activities can be frequently observed because air temperature contributes to convection in general.

In the map below, the worldwide distribution of lightning is shown.


  • Orange, red, brown and black indicate the regions where lightning activity is high.
  • White, gray, purple and blue indicate the regions where lightning activity is low. The regions having the lowest lightning activity are oceans and poles. Lightning is highly seen in hot continental regions.

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  • In general, lightning strike activities are observed when the aircraft is in climbing and descending phases in cloud. The reason of this is that lightning activities are mostly observed between 5000 and15000 feet.
  • 70 percent of lightning strike activities occur when raining. When air temperature is “0” degree the possibility of lightning strike increases. Lighting strike during flight is generally observed in freezing temperatures.
  • Even though 70 percent of lightning activities occur during rain, it is possible that aircrafts are affected from electric charged cloud even from 5 mile distance.
  • The effect of lightning strike on aircrafts varies by exposure duration, the energy of the lightning and many other factors.

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