Effects of Hail on Composite Aircraft

I am curious to know how the Cirrus and other composite aircraft surfaces hold up to the impact forces of hail. Aluminum, as we all know, is very susceptible to damage even in light hail. I have soured the internet but can’t seem to find anything. Thank you

My current partner had an SR-20. It was totaled in a hailstorm. Granted, it was a bad hailstorm. But it obliterated the composite. Without, touching the wings, they looked normal. But if you pushed down on their surface they crackled like a baby diaper.

That is scary. I know that bicycles with carbon fiber frames are extremely strong and light weight. However, if the frame is damaged you have to trash it because it cannot be repaired. Thanks for the response.

It may not be as devastating as believed-here are a few references to investigations of hail damage to composite aircraft:


And this one, from the Great Columbia Aircraft Hailstorm of 2006:

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CF bikes can be repaired, at least for certain types of damage. But it’s a bit of a specialist job, I think. I saw an interesting YT video featuring a shop that specializes in nothing but CF bike frame repair.

Hail strikes on a Cirrus are actually relatively easy to repair. We’ve done dozens of them.

Cirrus has you inject the voids with resin and body-work. Then re-paint the aircraft.

Normally all of the flight controls besides the rudder need to be replaced because they are aluminum.

I’d much rather own a Cirrus that got hit by hail than a metal airplane.

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That is good to know. It probably depends on the severity of the damage and relative cost of the repair to determine whether or not to fix. I just played it safe and bought an aluminum composite framed mountain bike. Thank you

These are great articles. The one describing the Columbia hail storm of 2006 probably best answers my concerned. It appears that composite is much better than aluminum when exposed to hail. Thanks for effort!

I found that video, in case you’re interested.

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Michael, sorry for the late response. I just saw this. This is a game changer when selecting a bike frame. Thanks for the video!

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