You have boarded the airplane and made your way to your seat. If you glance out the window, you can see several unobtrusive, short rods poking out of the trailing ends of the aircraft’s broad wings near the flaps. Some aircraft have five, ten, or sometimes even more of these wire-like features that are called static wicks or dischargers. Believe it or not, these devices are crucial to the plane’s safety, as they are able to help dissipate any static charges that the plane might face while in the air.
Static discharge, or static electricity, is something we experience on a daily basis. For example, after a blanket is removed from a dryer, you can sometimes hear the snapping and crackling of the fabric. With no lights on, you might even be able to see sparks. As the cockpit windows are the only parts of the plane not protected from static discharge, pilots can often see these sparks dance across their window(s).
Lightning is an example of a form of static electricity that has the potential to interfere with aircraft, and static wicks are meant to help protect such forces from impacting the vehicle while in flight. Airplanes themselves can also accumulate a static charge because they create friction between themselves and the atmosphere, particularly when there is rain or clouds. When this happens, static builds up, and additional electrons gather toward the edges of the plane that have the potential to cause a deadly spark near the fuel tanks. In addition, this static accumulation can cause radio interference, as well as other communication inconsistencies which are dangerous.
Static wicks have a unique structure; they are a cord-type material made from hundreds of cotton fibers filled with graphite. These fibers are wrapped into a cylindrical shape that is riveted to the trailing edge of the aircraft so that it is in contact with its skin. They have carbon points that help draw in the static charge, then the electrons bounce off of the aircraft and back to the sky where it is no longer a threat to the plane’s safety or communication systems.
In the uncommon case of a lightning strike, static wicks help the aircraft conduct electricity into its skin. The majority of the aircraft’s skin is connected to these wicks, except for the windshields. The wicks help to spread out the massive voltages that come with lightning, but after such a strike, they might have acquired damage. The good news is that they are inexpensive and replaceable, so airport employees consistently inspect the planes to make sure the wicks are in good shape prior to flight. These static wicks have been employed since World War Two and are required on all civilian aircraft.
If you are in need of aircraft static wicks or other aviation parts, look no further than Procurement Domain, a leading supplier of aerospace, defense, industrial, and electronic components. You can rest assured that we are AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B accredited, and many of the parts we sell are subject to rigorous quality assurance measures. Once you place an order with us, we work diligently to get your order delivered to you as quickly as possible. Our dedication to rapid delivery keeps our clientele returning for additional orders. Of our two billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find parts, we know you will be able to find the right aircraft static wicks for your unique application. Contact us 24/7x365 days a year with any questions or for help ordering your parts.