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By Devin Coldewey

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.

An explosion without a hardened or Fly-Bag protected hold could result in a breach, as shown in this picture. This plane was not equipped with the bomb-proof lining.University of Sheffield

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.

Related: Bomb Found in Carry-On Bag at Alaska Airport: Officials

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.