When lightning strikes

Aircraft at gate on the airport apron with cloudy and grey skies


While aircraft strikes by lightning are rare, they can happen. But don't worry, aircraft are designed to allow lightning to move along the airplane’s surface and safely exit into the atmosphere.

However, lightning can be dangerous to airport employees who are working outdoors, especially if they are located on the flat and open airport tarmac.

Warning system

Our operations team monitors the weather closely. When lightning is in the forecast, we issue notifications to employees. If lightning strikes within eight kilometres of Pearson, a warning system is activated to notify all employees working outdoors.

Operations impact

When the warning system is activated, outdoor workers will need to take safe shelter inside. As a result, many critical airport processes such as unloading baggage, fuelling aircraft, and guiding aircraft to the gate can be delayed.

If you're on a flight that boards or disembarks outside instead of a gate, you may also need to wait for the risk of lightning to pass. 

Wind and rain

High winds and heavy rains during summer storms can also affect your trip.

To keep takeoffs and landings safe, air traffic control may change runway configurations to ensure your safety. This may delay departing and arriving flights.

After the storm

The skies are clear, but your flight is delayed. This is because an earlier storm could create a backlog of departing flights.

Arriving flights may also 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.

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