A textile-based bag could protect aircraft agianst terrorist attacks [

Bomb-proof 'flybag' tested in aircraft explosion

A textile-based bag designed to protect aircrafts against explosions in the luggage hold has been successfully tested at Cotswold Airport last week.

The device, developed as part of the EU-funded Fly-Bag project, consists of multiple layers of extremely resilient fabrics and composites and should be able to withstand an explosion equivalent in force to the one that caused the Lockerbie disaster in 1988.

During the tests at Cotswold Airport, the researchers used disused planes to simulate explosions in the hold, gradually increasing their strength.

The flybag managed to contain the shrapnel and shockwaves in all instances and proved its value as a safety-increasing tool.

At the end of the testing, the researchers placed some explosives into unprotected planes to show the full extent of the damage the explosives would cause in a real-life setting.

“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,” explained Andy Tyas, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, whose team extensively tested the flybag prototypes in a laboratory.

“This helps to ensure that the flybag acts as a membrane rather than as a rigid-walled container which might shatter on impact.”

Currently, hardened luggage containers (HULD) are in use to deal with bombs hidden in passenger luggage, but these containers are heavier and more costly than conventional equivalents.

The light-weight foldable flybag could therefore provide a competitive alternative that might either become mandatory for airlines in the future or could be used as a response to particular threats.

In addition to being pre-installed in the luggage hold, the flybag could also be stored in a locker inside the cabin and used by the crew in case a threat is identified aboard the plane.

Read the E&T feature about technologies that could be saving lives in future plane disasters.



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