Even though it is nine years since then, I can still clearly recall my return flight from London Luton to Katowice (Poland), that I took on July 31, 2006 evening. There were a huge, strong storm front coming to Poland (ten days of extremely high warmth followed by ten days of an unusually high raining and really strong stroms, that started on August 1, 2006 in Poland), that we hit somewhere over Germany (hit or flown somewhere around / near it).

I was then and I am now a layman in aviation, so my description and terms used my not be correct, however I recall, that it was really a bumpy ride. Plane was falling down (loosing 100 ft or so) and trying to go back to previous altitude etc.

At some point, one of a pilots informed everyone on board, that they'll be dimming all the cabin lights, because "they need more power to the engines to go through this strom". And soon after that, they really did that and for about 10-20 minutes we were flying in a very limited cabin lightning.

Is this true, what we have heard nine years ago? Were cabin lights really consuming that much power back in 2006? Or was that just a strange way pilots wanted us to get a little bit more scared?

I was flying with Wizzair, so I assume, that it was A320. There is a similar answer on similar matter, but it says about LED-based cabin lights system and I can hardly believe, they were introduced to "cheap" Wizzair's A320s back in 2006.

But, even assuming, that our plane was fitted with a "typical" lights, much more energy consuming that LEDs, it is really hard for me to believe, that cutting on cabin lights could bring any noticeable power to airplane's engines. Correct me, if I'm wrong.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Just as an aside, the plane almost certainly wasn't dropping 100ft per time. Even in extreme turbulence (the kind that knocks trolleys over, breaks cabin crew arms from throwing them around, throws luggage out of the overhead racks) the plane is only likely to lose 10-20ft of altitude. It just feels like much more. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Story
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 13:22

1 Answer 1


Thunderstorms normally mean icing conditions, which necessitates anti-ice, both through bleed air and electrical systems.

I can see this going a few ways:

  • Pilot is (for instance) at high altitude and really does need the additional bit of power to cross above the thunderstorm.
  • Pilot has flown aircraft type where this is a legitimate problem and figures 'why not?' for safety sake.
  • Could be something about motion sickness in the storm, since closing your eyes can be an effective countermeasure. Perhaps dimming the lights goes along the same lines.
  • $\begingroup$ Since it happened in mid-flight, then I assume, that it actually was a cruising altitude and option (a) on your list would fit best. $\endgroup$
    – trejder
    Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 12:52

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