Bomb-proof lining contains explosion in luggage hold of aircraft

July 24, 2015, University of Sheffield
Bomb-proof lining contains explosion in luggage hold of aircraft
A controlled explosion without Fly-Bag in the hold. Credit: University of Sheffield

A bomb-proof lining developed by an international team of scientists, including academics from the University of Sheffield, has successfully contained blasts in a series of controlled explosions in the luggage hold of a Boeing 747 and an Airbus 321.

The Fly-Bag, which lines an aircraft's luggage hold with multiple layers of novel fabrics and composites, was tested under increasing explosive charges on disused planes at Cotswolds Airport, near Cirencester, this week.

Using this technology, the tests have demonstrated that a plane's luggage hold may be able to contain the force of an explosion should a device concealed within a passenger's luggage be detonated during a flight. This would mitigate damage to the plane and help keep passengers safe.

After the tests, explosives were placed in the aircraft without the lining to show the damage that could be caused.

Disasters such as the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 drove the need for this kind of invention, as well as the incident in which a printer cartridge bomb was found on-board a cargo plane at East Midlands Airport in 2010.

Fundamental to the design of the bag is a combination of fabrics which have high strength and impact and heat resistance. The fabrics include Aramid, which is used in ballistic body armour.

"Key to the concept is that the lining is flexible and this adds to its resilience when containing the explosive force and any fragments produced," said Dr Andy Tyas, of the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, who is leading the research at the University of Sheffield.

"This helps to ensure that the Fly-Bag acts as a membrane rather than as a rigid-walled container which might shatter on impact."

"We have extensively tested Fly-Bag prototypes at the University of Sheffield's blast-testing laboratory, but the purpose of these tests was to investigate how the concept works in the confines of a real and the results are extremely promising."

Hardened luggage containers (HULD) have been developed to deal with bombs hidden in passenger luggage, but these containers are heavier and more costly than conventional equivalents.

A European consortium working on the Fly Bag project includes Blastech, a spin out company from the University of Sheffield, as well as partners from Greece, Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.

The technology could either be something that becomes compulsory for all airlines to use if the law was changed or could be used by airlines responding to particular threats.

It has also been adapted for use in cabin holds within the plane if the airline crew spot something they think might be a threat and could be a risk to passengers.

Explore further: Airlines get new tools to avoid turbulence

Related Stories

Airlines get new tools to avoid turbulence

July 14, 2015

Airlines are using new software that transmits weather data from planes in the air to analysts on the ground, allowing pilots to avoid turbulence that can injure passengers and damage planes.

Luggage-lifting tips for safe travels

December 21, 2013

(HealthDay)—Carrying and lifting heavy luggage during the holidays can lead to neck, wrist, back and shoulder pain and injuries unless you take proper safety precautions, an orthopedic surgeon says.

The ever-evolving cyber threat to planes

June 17, 2015

Hackers and cyber-terrorists present an ever-evolving threat to airlines, with experts constantly testing for new vulnerabilities—including the fear that drones could be used to throw a plane off course.

United Airlines won't accept rechargeable battery shipments

March 3, 2015

Citing safety concerns, United Airlines on Monday became the second major U.S. airline to announce it will no longer accept bulk shipments of rechargeable batteries of the kind that power everything from smartphones to laptops ...

Recommended for you

Technology near for real-time TV political fact checks

January 18, 2019

A Duke University team expects to have a product available for election year that will allow television networks to offer real-time fact checks onscreen when a politician makes a questionable claim during a speech or debate.

Privacy becomes a selling point at tech show

January 7, 2019

Apple is not among the exhibitors at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show, but that didn't prevent the iPhone maker from sending a message to attendees on a large billboard.

China's Huawei unveils chip for global big data market

January 7, 2019

Huawei Technologies Ltd. showed off a new processor chip for data centers and cloud computing Monday, expanding into new and growing markets despite Western warnings the company might be a security risk.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (1) Jul 24, 2015
While this may help defend against crude bombs, it is still ridiculously easy to build a more powerful explosive or even a shaped charge to blow right though such measures.

This is a social problem that technology can not easily fix.
not rated yet Jul 25, 2015
The issue has never been terrorism. When one digs well enough, False flags are seen to be at the heart of most terrorism, as the response by ruling systems is detrimental to the given causes, in ways the given cause cannot possibly benefit via. Cui Bono?

The issue has always that these things, the few times they are real....are a response to a motion into clandestinely delivered and violently enforced global oligarchy.

Cows and corporate shills will jump out and claim otherwise, in most cases - helping hold up the cover story for a corporate media.

The story gets a bit more complex than that, but down underneath all the lies and shifts and shell games, that's the greater truth of it.

Cows and controllers and the games played to try and keep it that way.
1 / 5 (4) Jul 25, 2015
Remember when we were safe? Free?

It was before the Bush Wars and the Republican Police State.
3 / 5 (2) Jul 25, 2015
gkam quipped:
Remember when we were safe? Free?

It was before the Bush Wars and the Republican Police State.

Oh, you mean back when the Democrats got us involved in Vietnam?
Or was it when the Republicans got civil rights laws enacted?
1 / 5 (3) Jul 25, 2015
It was nice of the Republicans to go along with LBJ when he gave America back to The People with Civil Rights laws, opposed by conservatives in both parties.

As far as Vietnam goes, I guess you are ignorant of Dien Bien Phu and our agreement for free elections in Vietnam, reneged on by John foster Dulles?
5 / 5 (1) Jul 25, 2015
Remember when we were safe? Free?

No, we weren't. And I'm old enough to remember what international aviation was like from the early 1970s on.

Even a perfect foreign policy (whatever that might be) is not going to stop attacks against commercial aviation. Deranged people exist. Cults exist. Ignorance exists. These can all lead to hateful attacks against commercial aviation.

You're starting from a ridiculous assumption that politics alone can solve this dilemma and then you went even further by trying to hang it on one party or point of view. I wish the reality really was like that, but it is not. Posting nonsense suggesting that this might be true just shows the foolishness of this point of view.
1 / 5 (1) Jul 25, 2015
"you went even further by trying to hang it on one party or point of view"

No, I just reminded you of history and who gave us the Police State.

We got our Police State after their failure, their Criminal Negligence of 9/11.
not rated yet Jul 25, 2015
"you went even further by trying to hang it on one party or point of view"

No, I just reminded you of history and who gave us the Police State.

We got our Police State after their failure, their Criminal Negligence of 9/11.

So we tip our hats to Slick Willie Clinton... a Democrat in case you've forgotten.
For that, we give thanks.
1 / 5 (1) Jul 26, 2015
Did you fail to notice it was Dubya screaming "WMD!" and "Bring 'em on!"?

Did you notice they were cowering in their Undisclosed Locations when they screamed it?

They sure had you folk figured out, even having the hundreds and hundreds of pages of the draconian Patriot Act ready. How did they know they would "need" it?

You should have listened to us Vietnam War veterans who tried and tried to tell you the truth.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.