Lightning strikes Airbus Beluga during take-off from Welsh airport

Fascinating image shows the moment lightning struck one of the world's largest aircraft

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Lightning has struck one of the world’s largest aircraft as it was flying over north Wales.

The Airbus Beluga, which weighs 85.6 tonnes, was hit while taking off from Hawarden Airport in Flintshire, local media reported.

Airbus said the flight continued as normal and landed safely at its destination in Hamburg, Germany.

“At 1pm today, Beluga XL5 departing Hawarden Airport was struck by lightning,” Airbus said.

"This is a routine event in aviation and the aircraft continued with its journey to Hamburg as planned. In accordance with standard operating procedure, the aircraft will be inspected before its next flight."

It was reported that dozens of people reported hearing a “huge explosion” and a bright flash. Some also reported a loss of power and TV reception.

According to the US National Weather Service, commercial passenger planes are hit by lightning an average of one or two times a year.

It said that these aircraft are designed and built with conducting paths to survive lightning strikes.

"Actually, aircraft often initiate the strike because their presence enhances the ambient electric fields typical for thunderstorms and facilitates electrical breakdown through air," it said.

But very intense lightning strikes can damage avionics, including the radar and antennas.

The Airbus Beluga, with a wingspan of 45 metres, made its first flight in 1994.

Its larger version, the Airbus BelugaXL, made its first operational flight in 2020.

Shaped like a whale, the aircraft is 63 metres long, eight metres wide and has the largest cargo bay cross-section of all existing cargo aircraft in the world.

The jet successfully completed its first operational flight after banking more than 700 test flight hours.

Updated: November 03, 2022, 11:19 AM