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Boeing testing a lightning proof jetplane.

Boeing Co.’s new composite-plastic 787 Dreamliner survived its first lightning strike with no damage as the plane approaches the halfway point in flight testing, program manager Scott Fancher said.

The jet was flying last month above Puget Sound, near Seattle’s Boeing Field, when it was hit unexpectedly by a lightning bolt during a rare thunderstorm in the area, Fancher said yesterday in a telephone interview. The aircraft’s systems, fuselage and wings all appeared to be unscathed, he said.

“Post-flight inspections revealed absolutely no damage,” said Fancher, who took over the Dreamliner testing program in December 2008. “I walked around the airplane an hour after it landed and you couldn’t tell a thing had happened.”

Engineers are still studying how lightning affects the 787, the first jetliner to be built mostly from composite materials instead of traditional aluminum. The Dreamliner is more dependent on electricity for controls and other systems, with power levels five times higher than on Boeing’s 767.

Scheduled lightning-strike simulations and tests, mostly on the ground, are planned later this year as Chicago-based Boeing completes the U.S. certification for the plane to carry passengers, Fancher said. READ MORE HERE.

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