Lightning hits airport as plane approaches

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 12:02 15/10/2012
westport airport
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DAMAGED: The runway at Westport Airport, pictured after Saturday's storm.

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Some flights at Westport have been grounded after a lightning storm caused "significant damage" to the airport at the weekend.

The lighting storm hit Westport at lunchtime on Saturday.

A lightning bolt struck a section of the Westport Airport runway, blowing 34 of the lights on the runway out of the ground.

Airport chief executive Bede Brown said the lights were "blown to bits", with some pieces of the lights found up to 10 metres away.

The lighted windsock at the Carters Beach end of the runway had parts destroyed.

When the storm hit, a lunchtime flight was in the air heading towards the airport.

Airport staff had to work quickly to ensure that the runway was safe for a landing, removing any debris from the shattered lights.

The lightning had shut down the computer systems for the airport, but the flight was able to land safely, he said.

Electricians were assessing the damage to the runway and replacement parts would need to come from Australia.

Brown said it was expected that the parts would take weeks to be sourced.

Until the lights were fixed, there would be no flights in or out of Westport during total darkness.

All other activities at Westport Airport would continue as normal, he said.

He said he had heard of lightning strikes occurring at other airports, but not to the same degree.

"I've never heard of something like this."

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- The Press

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