Unfortunately the threat of a terrorist attack on an aeroplane is today a real threat to airline security. The EU-funded FLY-BAG2 project has developed a technology that enables aeroplanes to survive a Lockerbie-type explosion scenario. The bomb-resistant bags are ready to be manufactured and installed.
Since the Russian plane crash in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in 2015, the sense of urgency to improve aviation safety and anti-terrorist measures has intensified. As FLY-BAG2 is the first lightweight and flexible solution able to contain the devastation caused by bombs hidden in luggage, it attracted much interest at the February 2016 European Civil Aviation Conference.
FLY-BAG2 is a flexible, cost-effective textile-based technology that can save the lives of passengers and crew. As project coordinator of FLY-BAG2 Alessandro Bozzolo explains, “FLY-BAG can be used in all aircrafts. Tests in the laboratory and on board aircraft have proven that it works.”
A fabric firewall for the hold and cabin
Comprising several layers of fabric, FLY-BAG2 is ideal for use in aircraft where weight and space are crucial. Each layer has a specific function: absorbing the shockwaves of a blast, retaining fragments of the explosion, and preventing the spread of fire.
The FLY-BAG2 project built on the success of the previous FLY-BAG project. Bozzolo explains that FLY-BAG developed “blast-resistant fabric luggage containers for narrow-body passenger airplanes, notably Airbus A320. In FLY-BAG2, we developed new systems to protect wide-body aircraft, such as Boeing 747s, and we developed FLY-BAG2 systems to protect both cargo and cabin environments.”
The cargo hold prototype of FLY-BAG2 is available in two versions – for narrow-body and wide-body aircraft. In wide-body aircraft, FLY-BAG2 is fitted inside the standard aluminium containers used to store luggage. In narrow-body aircraft, the FLY-BAG2 is fitted into the cargo hold itself as a fabric liner that protects the fuselage from any blast.
The third prototype is for cabin environments. Here, the bag can be folded and stored in a cabinet or hand luggage compartment. If a suspicious piece of luggage is discovered on board, a member of the cabin crew can place the item into one of the bags and move the bag to an area of the aircraft where an explosion would cause minimal damage.
The FLY-BAG2 system has been internationally patented. Installation of FLY-BAG2 for narrow-body aircraft has been certified for the A320 family. The design of the other FLY-BAG2 variants — FLY-BAG2 for cabin and cargo hold of wide body aircraft — means that they do not need any certification to be installed on board. All are therefore ready for the market.
From air travel to mining and building security
“The FLY-BAG2 containment units are not intended to replace existing security checks, but are rather an additional step for passengers and cabin crew security,” Bozzolo explains. FLY-BAG2 can be put in place to minimise the chance of an airliner crash if a terrorist were to be successful in avoiding detection by any one of the other pre-boarding security checks.
FLY-BAG2 has been tailored to satisfy the needs of the aviation industry, but it could be customised for applications in other industries including:
- public transportation, such as in national rail and underground subways;
- law enforcement and security of public and government buildings;
- transportation of explosives;
For example, rubbish bins lined with FLY-BAG2 technology could significantly reduce bomb-related risks in stations, airports and other crowded places. If police officers and military personnel had portable bags manufactured using the FLY-BAG2 system, they could protect themselves and the public while waiting for the bomb squad to arrive.