Saturday, 2 May 2009

Fun-Static! (and a prank idea)

Being one of the globally renowned oil company, Petronas practice strict rules and policy with regards to HSE – Health, Safety, Environment. Hence during morning meetings, attendees are encouraged to raise/notify any substandard act or condition.

Two days ago, the HLO (Helicopter Landing Officer) complained that while trying to open the door of a just-landed chopper, he received several static shock. Apparently they flew through stormy weather before arriving at Resak.


Later after the meeting a personnel approached me and asked (in a puzzle-riddle tone):

An airborne aircraft is bound to accumulate static charges while cutting through the air. How does this kept away from harming the passengers? Or how does the earthing of the charges work (while still flying)?

I thought it was time to Google the answer, but my ego won’t budge. He obviously knew that the answer and was testing me out. So I brainstormed a bit.


I remember last year while shopping at Carrefour with Azie. With 20 cent handy, I detached a shopping cart. The cart was rather aged; the wheels squeeked as they spin. The bearings must have really worn out. Holding the handle bar (of what material I don’t know), I pushed around for quite a distance.

Then I touched the steep body, and ‘Hadoi!’, a jab of electrostatic shock striked me.


Come to think of it, those friction at the wheels must have mounted up static charges on the metal body. Failing to earth through the wheels (what? was it rubber?), it chose an alternative available path, ME.

Damn trolleys… it occured several times even. But it gave me an idea to conduct an experiment/prank.

While pushing the cart around, I had one finger touching the steel frame. As the wheels generate charges, I store some of them in my body. Not only this prevented me from getting more shock, I have became a walking-human-capacitor, ready to strike!



Hehehe.. lawak2.. you should try that sometimes. Unlike charges attract!’, so that’ll improve chemical bonding between you two.


So back to the aircraft situation. I could only speculate that as the aircraft build up static charge, the passengers store them too. Therefore there won’t be any electricity exchange between the bodies because they’re all of the same potential.

And that the charge will instantly be earthed once it lands. (And well, maybe extra charges accumulated during stormy weather did not discharge quick enough.). Make sense, kan?

But but…

Gile hape, this would spoil all the instrumentations in the aircraft, as they are highly sensitive to even a miniscule amount of static electricity.

And how bout those SWAT teams absailing down from a hovering chopper, mesti gila kene shock masa sampai tanah, as he is the only earthing path!


So what are the other options? Through the air?

Ok Mr, I give up. But I’m gonna Google it first, THEN tell you the answer.


Ooohhhhhh.. it’s called a wick.

PS: sorry eh yang… :P