Aerospace Protection

Aircraft Lightning ProtectionLightning Testing of Aircraft Nose Cone

U.S. Federal Aviation Regulation FAR 25.581 mandates that every aircraft “aircraft must be protected against catastrophic effects of lightning."

Aircraft certification and flight safety authorities around the world require that aircraft structures and systems that are critical or essential to the safe flight of an aircraft be protected from significant lightning-induced damage or upset. These requirements are fulfilled through a certification plan that details the lightning protection engineering and shows — through verification testing — that the engineering meets all applicable standards and regulations.

NTS and Lightning Technologies, Inc. (LTI) provide lightning protection engineering, certification plan preparation and verification testing services to airframe and aerospace systems manufacturers around the world. With a lead role in major commercial and military design programs, our engineers take a systemwide approach to assuring that lightning protection is compatible with space and weight limitations, electromagnetic compatibility and electromagnetic pulse. Our experience includes traditional designs, all-composite and fly-by-wire aircraft, as well as avionic upgrades and engine modifications.

Direct vs. Indirect Effects of Lightning

Lightning can affect avionics systems in two ways: directly, causing physical damage due to heat or shock, and indirectly, as a result of earth voltage rises occurring in the aftermath of a strike. Proper testing to ensure lightning strike protection must take into account both factors. At NTS, we are fully equipped to provide comprehensive testing of both factors, ensuring you are compliant with DO-160 Section 22, MIL-STD 461/462 and other relevant standards.

  • Direct effects — Our direct testing equipment consists of high voltage Marx-type impulse generators that are capable of producing up to 1.5 million volts, and high-current generators specially outfitted to produce over 250,000 amperes of current. Our Pittsfield, MA testing facility includes a high-bay laboratory measuring 40 by 120 feet, suitable for testing smaller aircraft and larger individual components.
  • Indirect effects —Earth voltage rises can cause equipment failure in devices up to a kilometer away from the impact site. For this reason, it is essential to test sensitive electrical and electronic components against the indirect effects of a lightning strike. To do this, we employ specialized devices for complete field and transient analysis, so we can perform pin injection, transformer injection and other tests.

Other Testing

  • Multiple stroke and multiple burst tests — Multiple stroke and multiple burst lightning can have vastly different effects on aircraft components. We perform testing that simulates both types of lightning, ensuring you remain compliant with international regulations.
  • Field testing — For equipment that is too large or prohibitively expensive to transport to our facilities, NTS offers on-site testing at locations around the country. Contact one of our team members directly to learn about your options and request a quote.
  • Static testing — Static electricity on airplanes can cause shocks that exceed 100,000 volts. Testing equipment against these possible events can be as important as ensuring proper lightning strike protection.

With our 2011 acquisition of Lightning Technologies, Inc., NTS has positioned itself as a leader in the field of aircraft lightning protection. In addition to the Pittsfield facility, we maintain multiple labs around the country to conveniently serve aerospace and military contractors from coast to coast. To speak with one of our engineers about our testing capabilities, contact our head office today.