How can airplane passengers be better protected from attacks?
The rise in international terrorism calls for measures to increase air travel safety, particularly protection against the risk of mid-air explosions due to explosives in airplane baggage-holds. These explosive devices, often very small, are very hard to detect during baggage checks.
A team of engineers form five European countries has just come up with an answer. Within the context of the European research programme FLY-BAG, they have developed a flexible baggage container, lightweight yet designed to contain explosions. The lining consists of superimposed layers of technical textiles and composite materials. In the centre, a composite structure gives the material its strength, and around it a flexible construction can stretch without breaking in the event of a medium-sized explosion. It thus prevents any effects of the explosion from affecting the passenger cabin. The fibres making up each layer of textile are oriented differently so as to ensure dispersion of the forces of the impact in all directions.
The engineers have subjected their container to real explosions to measure its resistance. Result: the structure provides protection from a medium-intensity explosion, such as the 1988 attack which caused the destruction of a Boeing 747 and the deaths of 250 people.
The FLY-BAG project is still under development but has already won many awards relating to innovation, research and security.
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