Honestly speaking, this question really made me curious. It got me to think of what wouldreally happen if a plane or a car got struck by lightning as the both of them are made of metaland we know that metals are good conductors of electricity. What gets me more curious is thethought that riding a car or a plane could really be extremely dangerous in the event of it gettinghit by lightning but then it also came to my mind that if it is that dangerous, then the people, thegovernment, the scientists or anyone would stop using cars or airplanes as a means oftransportation and so I sought and look for answers not just to be able to answer the FLA but alsoto feed my curious mind. And these are the answers that shocked my being.An airplane may be made of metal and a good conductor of electricity but it also acts asa Faraday cage.
Faraday cages work on the principle that electric fields can’t exist within aconductor and so any charge remains on the surface. In the case of a plane, lightning strikes willbe conducted around the outside, leaving all the occupants safe from harm. It is as if it allow thecurrent to flow through the skin from the point of impact to some other point withoutinterruption or diversion to the interior of the aircraft and then it would exit through anotherextremity point, frequently the tail (as shown by Gauss’s Law). It is like an electricalenclosure. This enclosure shields the contents inside the cage from the current that might bepresent on the surface of the Faraday cage.
Although there is a lot of static electricity on theoutside skin of an aircraft, the aluminium conducts the electricity away from the interior andtowards those static wicks (attached to the trailing edges of control surfaces designed to helpdissipate this charge to the surrounding air and protect not only the flight instruments and radiosbut also the flight surfaces themselves).Michael Faraday, a British physicist, discovered that a metal cage would shield objectswithin the cage when a high potential discharge his the cage. The metal being a good conductor,would direct the current around the objects and discharge it safely to the ground. This processof shielding is widely used today to protect the electrostatic sensitive integrated circuits in theelectronics world (Zavisa, Science: How Stuff Works, 2015).In the case of cars, it is somehow the same with planes, lightning flows around the outsideof a car, and the majority of the current flows from the car’s metal cage into the ground below.In essence, a car acts like a mobile Faraday cage. It distributes the charge or the radiation aroundthe cage’s exterior, it cancels out electric charges or radiation within the cage’s interior and intotality, a Faraday cage is a hollow conductor, in which the charge remains on the external surfaceof the cage.The NWS says an all-metal car protects occupants from lightning like a Faraday cage:a shield that redirects electricity from a strike into the ground.
Tires are not even close to being effective insulators; lightning can reach 50,000 degrees, and strike 10 miles from the storm whichgenerated it. And convertibles or cars like the new Lexus LC500 with a weight-saving carbon-fiberroof will not stop lightning.For a Faraday Effect to be effective, it requires a nearly completely metal car, and thesedays many cars are being built with materials other than metal and there are some that do nothave metal roofs, which compromises the Faraday cage affect.
In, vehicles that are manufacturedout of non-metal parts such as plastic, fiberglass or even carbon fiber, the construction materialsimpedes electricity’s ability to flow through the car, and the occupants are more likely to beinjured inside.