On April 13, 2012, United Airlines flight 930, a Boeing 777, took off from San Francisco International Airport en route to London. The airplane was struck by lightning, and the flight crew elected to return to San Francisco. On May 7, 2012, a Boeing 777 operated by Emirates Air as flight 407 was flying near Melbourne, Australia, on a flight from Auckland, New Zealand, to Dubai when it was struck by lightning. The flight crew made an emergency landing at Melbourne, failed to find any damage and resumed the flight. On May 15, 2012, a Dassault Falcon 7X jet carrying French President Francois Hollande from Paris to Berlin was struck by lightning and returned to Paris. President Hollande was transferred to another plane. Coincidentally, on May 18, 2012, the NTSB issued a Safety Recommendation calling for the FAA to install upgraded technology so that controllers see lightning strikes on their screens, thus providing additional information to help them keep aircraft away from storms.
The Safety Board wants the FAA to study the technical feasibility of presenting, through the use of existing weather and radar processor systems or other means, real-time total lightning data on controller displays in use now at both centers and TRACON facilities, and on the displays that will be used when the NextGen system is deployed. The Safety Board also points out that the new avionics the FAA wants aircraft operators to install would have enough capability to handle real-time lightning data, and it would make sense for the FAA to include lightning data in the weather information it plans to transmit for pilots to use via broadcast data link.