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Conductors on an airplane

  1. Sep 19, 2007 #1
    I know airplanes are made of mostly nonconductors, but why do they have conducting wires embedded into the surface?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 19, 2007 #2

    Astronuc

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    Staff: Mentor

    The construction of the aircraft depends on the size, but most large craft are made of metal, more precisely Al-alloys of various types. Composites materials are also being used for more often.

    The electrical wires are there to discharge static electricity in a controlled manner at those locations, as opposed to antennae or other points, which might be damaged. They also serve as the points where lighting would enter and leave the aircraft, thus also providing some protection to the aircraft.
     
  4. Sep 19, 2007 #3
    wouldnt the static charge still be there though? Though dispersed, it would still be there and eventually after several lightning strikes, there would be so much charge build up in the first place to cause damage.

    wouldnt the conductor melt from a lighting strike?
     
  5. Sep 19, 2007 #4

    Astronuc

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    Staff: Mentor

    The points on the conductor allow for a high local field which encourages a local discharge before there is a large build up on the plane. I think static charge is that significant on most aircraft.

    Lightning does not result in a charge buildup on the plane. The lighting hitting a plane is usually a cloud-to-cloud discharge, and it passes through the plane.

    The ideas of the conductors on the plane is to ensure that lighting and static discharge are preferentially directed and controlled so as not do damage the planes avionics and propulsion system.
     
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