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New devices to contain blasts on airplanes

FLY-BAG’s blast-resistant, textile-based luggage container has come a long way since it was unveiled in 2011. Thanks to EU funding under the FLY-BAG2 project, the team recently came up with three new blast containment devices which are now ready to launch on the market.

Drastic security measures taken by airports since the 11 September attacks are still far from foolproof. A 100 % detection rate cannot be guaranteed at security scans for explosive devices carried by passengers or hidden in luggage, which means that airlines have to be prepared for an in-flight explosion scenario. To overcome the cost and weight issues entailed in a systematic strengthening of airplane structure and the currently available hardened luggage containers (HULD), the FLY-BAG team developed and successfully tested three novel devices based on bomb-proof textiles combining three layers of flexible and lightweight materials with one layer of Kevlar. These include a soft-shell container to be placed in the luggage compartments of narrow-body jets, one for wide-body airplanes and a smaller FlyBag to be placed in the cabin for scenarios where a passenger is found with a bomb. Trials took place in decommissioned A320 and B-747 aircrafts at the Cotswolds Airport in Gloucertershire, UK. ‘We're delighted with the way the trials have gone,’ Dr Andy Tyas, specialist in explosives engineering at the University of Sheffield and director of company Blastech, told BBC News last month after they witnessed one of the tests. The devices were previously tested in lab conditions but in the open air, and the team wasn’t sure what the impact of a blast inside an airplane would be: ‘We knew the bag expanded and the question was: how much did that expansion cause a problem for the airframe? Does that become the devastating transmitter of energy itself? And what we're seeing is, it's not doing that.’ The BBC reports that there were no visible effects of the detonation when using the FLY-BAG rucksack, whereas a blast of the same intensity without any containment had a devastating impact on the airframe. The bag is flexible and strong enough to withstand a pressure eruption up to 20,000 mph, fireproof enough to resist incandescent gas temperatures of up to 3 000°C, expandable enough to resist quasi-static pressure from gases, and resilient enough to prevent hard parts of the contained luggage from turning into shrapnel. Project coordinator D’Appolonia believes that the devices are now ready for commercialisation, and one airline, Meridiana, has already shown interest. ‘An exploitation agreement is under definition among the partners of the consortium for the commercialisation of the FLY-BAG2 products,’ Alessandro Bozzolo, area manager of D'Appolonia and project coordinator of FLY-BAG2 told IHS Airport 360. He noted that the cost of the solution would strongly depend on the number of units bought by a specific customer. For further information, please visit: FLY-BAG2



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