Christmas Day bombing attempt

BBC sponsored a bombing test on a retired Boeing 747 to see if the Northwest Airlines Airbus A330 would have survived the Christmas Day bombing attempt. The results are surprising and may be seen here.

The aluminum fuselage flexed but did not breach. We immediately wondered what the result would have been with a composite fuselage that makes up the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350.

9 Comments on “Christmas Day bombing attempt

  1. The test was on the ground in the unpressurized fuselage of a 747. I would expect the effect on a smaller fuselage that is pressurized at cruise altitude would be more severe.

  2. Like PSEng, I’d be worried about pressurised conditions, in particular around the windows. What would the effects of an explosive decompression be?

  3. Forget the ” explosive ” decompression bit. years ago myth busters ran an excellent test on an old dc-9 pressurizing it, putting dummys in the seat, and blowing out a window or panel

    No big deal. In the case of the hawaii plane, corrosion and poor maintenance and repair allowed a major failure even across doublers and crack stoppers.

    forget gert frobe being sucked out thru a window in one of the bond movies

    As the test demonstrated, for that amount, there would probably be decompression- rapid with resultant nose bleeds, ear problems in addition to nearbym passengers being severely injured- but most likely the plane would still be flyable at low altitude for quite a while

    As to composites – IMO- there would be comparable damage to the aluminum ( minor), and probably less visible bending- external bumps.

    Internal fuselage frames **might** become delaminated from the shell- and superficail damage internally might be a bit more with just a window blowout to relieve pressure.

    But a major failure for that amount of explosive would IMO be even less likely than that on the 747

    And yes- before I retired, I was involved in composite fabrication and such mundane things as lightning strike and fabrication issues. But thart does NOT make me an expert on current composites and fabrication techniques used on the dreamliner

  4. an “experienced air acident investigator”… really ? thought the BBC was better then that

  5. Looking at the video on the BBC, I have to agree that that seems to be a pretty pointless test! Most of the explosive force will have blown out of the wide open aft door just a few rows away…

    For a much better simulation, I’ve seen a *pressurised* 747 blown to pieces by an explosive placed in an LD3 container (simulating the Lockerbie case). The test was to show that the same container made from GLARE would contain the explosion and a second 747 using the GLARE container (ECOS3) suffered a bit of a bump but that was it.

  6. This would support my opinion that the planners
    behind this “attack” aimed for a “wet your pants”
    incidence for the general public without much risk
    to the flight. Trying to ignite the “nonbomb” very
    late in the flight duration would point in a similar
    My tentative guess is that Mr Reid in 2001 had similar guidance.

  7. Someone in too loose

    The explosive charge used in the LD3 test was no doubt larger than that of the crotch bomber

    Got a source for the 747 blown to pieces ‘ test” ?

  8. I looked to see if there’s a copy of the video online but didn’t find it. Sorry.

  9. To answer you other point, the explosives could indeed have been more – but that wasn’t the point I was making; a pressurised fuselage can fail in quite a spectacular fashion when damaged by a bomb… an open fuselage section sitting on the ground probably doesn’t.

    Ergo, this test is biased to show a “safe” result.

    Anyway, here’s a little more on the ECOS3:

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