The rise in worldwide terrorism has required measures be taken to harden aircraft against catastrophic in-flight failure due to concealed explosives. Commercial aviation can be protected from the threat of explosives by:
- preventing explosives from reaching the aircraft;
- mitigating the effects of an explosive protecting the aircraft from an onboard explosion.
The risk that a small quantity of an explosive, below the threshold of the detection instruments, could be undetected should be considered, and the introduction of countermeasures to reduce the effects of on-board explosions should be considered. This is the idea behind FLY-BAG. Hardened containers (HULD) have been developed for the latter scope, but have some disadvantages which prevent their wider utilisation; they are heavier and more costly than standard luggage containers and only applicable to wide-body aircrafts.
The issue of containing explosions aboard narrow-body aircraft must be resolved. The project concept is based on the development of flexible textile-based luggage containers able to resist a small to medium explosion by controlled expansion and containment of the shock waves whilst, at the same time, preventing hard luggage fragment projectiles (shrapnel) from striking the main structure of the aircraft at high speed. A multi-layered 'soft-sandwich' structure is required to absorb the large dynamic loads of the explosion and the large deformation related to the gas expansion. Our idea is to use multi-axial textile structures made of ballistic yarns as an internal high strength layer, coupled with an external 'foldable' layer which could deform in a controlled way during the explosion, in a way similar to air-bags in cars. Composite elements like thin strips or thin sheets contribute with reinforcement and containment functions. A core layer will be considered as well as stand-off distance between an explosive device and the aircraft skin panels to reduce shock holing and blast forces.
Prototypes have been successfully assembled and tested in loading operations on an Airbus A319 in November 2010; full scale blast tests were performed in January 2011. The outcome was a complete success, with a FLY-BAG prototype able to resist four consecutive blasts of increasing energy, up to a level that would almost certainly cause collapse of an airplane. The prototype was substantially intact and maintained all its functionalities after the blasts.
Prototypes have been assembled and tested. The tests proved the FLY-BAG prototype to be a success, as it was able to resist blasts up to a level that would certainly have caused collapse of an airplane.
Hardened blast resistant containers exist, but have some disadvantages: they are heavier and more costly than standard luggage containers. Also they were too large for narrow-body aircrafts. With that in mind, a flexible textile-based luggage container have been developed. A container able to resist a small to medium explosion by controlled expansion and containment of shock waves as well as preventing shrapnel (e.g. hard luggage fragment projectiles) from striking the main aircraft structure and/or skin. The multi-layered 'soft-sandwich' structure of the luggage container does the job: (1)absorb the dynamic loads of the explosion and (2)absorb the large deformation related to the gas expansion.
An efficient and integrated mobility system: acting on transport safety (saving thousands of lives)