Lightning strikes plane after takeoff from Vancouver airport

Air Canada says aircraft are designed to withstand lightning strikes

Air Canada says aircraft are designed to withstand lightning strikes

A student pilot captured video of a passenger airplane in B.C. being struck by lightning.

Ethan West describes himself as a plane spotter, a hobbyist who enjoys watching and recording aircraft.

He was at Larry Berg Flight Path Park, near the end of the south runway at Vancouver International Airport, on Sunday and noted a Boeing 777-300ER — one of his favourite aircraft — was departing.

He began to record the plane in the air when it was struck by lightning.

Air Canada confirmed in a statement that a flight leaving YVR on Sunday had a lightning strike. The plane was inspected upon arriving at Heathrow Airport and has resumed service.

The airline said its planes are built to withstand lightning strikes and all aircraft are taken out of service to be checked by engineers after they're hit.

West said he's seen comments on social media raising concerns about how the strike could cause injury.

"That's just not the case," he said. "These aircraft are designed in order to take this type of lightning strike."

According to the U.S. National Weather Service, a commercial plane is hit by lightning an average of one or two times a year.

"Actually, aircraft often initiate the strike because their presence enhances the ambient electric fields typical for thunderstorms and facilitates electrical breakdown through air," the service says.

While lightning hitting a plane may not be too rare, video capturing a strike is more uncommon.

West says he's glad he was in the right place at the right time.

"From what I know, there was no lightning predicted in the weather forecast, so it was kind of out of the blue," he said.

"I wasn't even thinking about it at the time. I was just thinking about getting a cool video of the Triple Seven departing."