Fly-Bag: A special aircraft lining that is designed to contain explosions from on-board bombs

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Back in November, we talked about an ingeniously contrived (albeit still conceptual) solution for aircraft that entailed an ejecting safety capsule from that could potentially help passengers survive air accidents. And while that concept was formulated to solve conventional aircraft safety issues, a group of British researchers have developed their design that could counter non-conventional, namely terrorist bomb threats, to passenger planes. The solution in question here is named as the Fly-Bag. Contrived by scientists at the University of Sheffield, the bag encompasses bomb-proof lining that can be installed within the luggage hold of the plane. Simply put, the design scope is tailored to mitigate any explosion emanating from the luggage bags hidden in the hold.

So the question naturally arises – how does the scope work? The answer lies in the multiple layers contained withing the bomb-proof lining of the Fly-Bag. These collective ‘sheet’ comprise both conjoined layers of fabrics and special composites like aramid (a class of sturdy, heat-resistant synthetic fibers used in ballistic body armor). Suffice it to say, these dedicated combination of variant materials endows the much need resistance to heat from any potential explosion, while also accounting for enhanced structural strength that can counter the shock wave from any such explosion scenario.

But there is another fascinating advantage of the Fly-Bag, and it directly relates to physics. As lead researcher and engineer Dr Andy Tyas, made it clear –

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

Now in commercial terms, Hardened luggage containers (HULD) already exist as bomb-mitigating cargo holds inside aircraft. But according to the researchers involved in the Fly-Bag project, their design is more lightweight, less cumbersome and hence less costly than the HULD solutions. Interestingly, the Fly-Bag can also be adopted for cabin holds in case the crew decides to separate a suspicious package from the storage area. And the good news is – the Fly-Bag has been extensively tested in special blast-testing labs. As Tyas added –

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 aircraft and the results are extremely promising.

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Dr Andy Tyas, who is leading the research.

Source: University of Sheffield

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