Aircraft strikes by lightning are rare, but they do happen. Aircraft are designed to allow lightning to move along the airplane’s surface and safely exit into the atmosphere.
Monitoring the risk
Lightning can be hazardous to employees who are working outdoors. Our operations team monitors the weather closely when storms are in the forecast. When lightning is forecast, notifications to the airport employees are issued. When lightning strikes within eight kilometres of Pearson, a warning strobe system around the airport is activated to alert employees working outdoors to the risk of lightning. Employees who work outdoors and are most exposed to the risk of a lightning strike can use the warning strobes as notification to seek safe shelter.
How lightning could affect your trip
Many critical airport processes could be affected during a lightning storm and lead workers to take safe shelter inside.
Aircraft marshalling crews who guide planes to gates, baggage handlers unloading aircraft and airside security guards are just a few examples of the workers who need to take shelter against lightning strikes. Flights that require passengers to board or disembark outside can also be affected, meaning passengers may have to wait for storms to pass. Keeping our employees and passengers safe is our top priority, so we appreciate your patience while we keep everyone safe.
Wind and rain
High winds and heavy rains can also affect your trip. To keep takeoffs and landings safe, air traffic control may change runway configurations to ensure safety. This may delay departing and arriving flights.
After the storm
Severe summer weather could create a backlog of departing flights. This can cause a shortage of available gates for arriving flights that need to offload their passengers. Because air travel is a complex system, this might mean arriving flights may divert to airports where the weather is better, or spend time waiting for a gate to become available. Departing flights may be delayed or even cancelled by the airline.