Researchers at the University of Sheffield have designed a protective layer for airplanes' cargo holds that may be able to contain the force of a bomb going off inside. The "Fly-Bag" is a lining for the luggage compartment made of a variety of special fabrics and composite materials — things with high impact and heat resistance.
The team, led by Andy Tyas of the university's Department of Civil and Structure Engineering, has already tested the Fly-Bag in several grounded planes. "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," said Tyas.
Fly-bag is a lighter and possibly more resilient alternative to "hardened" luggage containers. The lining flexes and expands with the explosion, absorbing the shock and reducing the possibility that the blast will breach the hull or passenger compartment.
Ideally, of course, bombs never make it to the cargo hold in the first place. But there have been attempts and the technology could also be used by the military or bomb disposal squads.