Go beyond the expected

Engineers from our department have helped to create a bag that can protect planes from bombs.

Two students in front of a fly.com plane.

It’s designed to be filled with luggage in the hold of a plane and its layers of high-tech fabrics protect from blast shock waves and projectiles. This, in turn, prevents damage to the aircraft and injuries to passengers.

Our engineers have tested the prototype bag extensively in lab conditions. Recently they tested it in a decommissioned 747 and two of our students, Kit and Connie, gave them a hand.

They got to see how the theoretical concepts taught in our ‘Blast & Impact Effects on Structures’ module are used to drive the engineering design and application of the bag.

One of the project leaders, Dr Andy Tyas explains the aim of the testing:

"The flybag is designed to protect against three effects of explosions in a confined space. Firstly, the immediate high-intensity shockwave from the detonation itself is strong enough to punch holes in solid material. 

Secondly, the explosive then turns to gas, creating a ball of high pressure, which expands, creating a pressure-cooker reaction that could potentially damage aircraft fuselage.

The bag is engineered to contain all three of these threats. The purpose of testing in situ is critical. Field tests proved the bag worked, but we needed to know about the effect on the body of the plane when the bag bounced, rotated and vibrated during testing.

Dr Andy Tyas

Project leader

Thirdly, immediately after the explosion, bits of damaged luggage can become projectiles, threatening injury to passengers. This is the next stage in proofing and refining the prototype."

Our league table rankings

Top 100 Civil & Structural Engineering department in the world and 9th in the UK according to the QS World University rankings by subject (2023).

10th in the UK according to the Times University League Table (2024).

12th in the UK according to the Complete University Guide (2024).