This article is sensationalistic but useful, showing the effects of a small " shoe bomb" on an airliner
like the one used by bumbling malcontent and al Qaida adherent, convicted terrorist Richard Reid
I am no engineer or pilot, so I'm willing to be corrected by those with expertise, but it occurs to me that a large part of the problem is that our passenger aircraft have deliberately been designed to be unsurvivable, because this saves pennies on the dollar, rather than to be resilient. Planes are not always by nature fragile; B-24's during WWII or the more modern A-10's could take devastating hits and remain airborne.
Much like not highjacker-proofing the doors of the cabin to protect the pilots, I suspect there are many known elements that could be engineered into passenger aircraft design that corporate executives and FAA officials intentionally choose not to require. Then there measures yet undiscovered, some possibly inexpensive or cost-reducing, that we will not find until we try.
I'm not advocating flying around in Abrams tanks with wings but in putting a greater effort toward thinking in terms of resilience when we sit down at drawing boards, instead of lamenting what was not done, after the fact.
Labels: complex systems, planes, resilience, terrorism