Lightning Simulation Validation

Lightning Simulation Validation - Lightning test on CSeries

EMA Model of the Full Aircraft Lightning Test for Validation of EMA3D

Lightning Simulation Validation

EMA has supported Bombardier and Embraer in lightning simulation validation exercises for lightning effects on a full aircraft as well as a representative wing test box. The results were presented as several separate papers at the International Conference on Lightning and Static Electricity (ICOLSE) in 2015 and 2019.

The three papers describe two validation campaigns in pursuit of 25.981 fuel system ignition FAA certification:

  • A full scale aircraft with lightning injection in the wing
  • An aircraft wing test box  injected with full-scale lightning current

The purpose of the two tests was to validate a computational electromagnetic (CEM) model by a comparison with laboratory lightning testing. EMA3D with integrated MHARNESS was the CEM code under evaluation.

In summary, the EMA simulation correlated extremely well with the test results. An example of the correlation is shown in the figure below:

Lightning Simulation Validation - EMA Simulation Results Compared to Full Aircraft Test Results

EMA Simulation Results Compared to Full Aircraft Test Results


14 CFR 25.981(a)(3) and AWM 525.981(a)(3) require that design features in the aircraft fuel tank shall prevent ignition due to high currents and voltages that can result in sparking. It is essential to establish the aircraft lightning environment (threat levels) within the fuel tank structure to show it will not be of sufficient amplitude to cause ignition. Threat level definitions can be supported by simulation and analysis.

Simulation tools provide more extensive means to rationalize threat level predictions than by using development testing alone. Simulations also provide more extensive means to evaluate specific design features.

Full Presentations

The published papers are available for the full scale aircraft lightning testing here and here as well as the aircraft test box here.