Explosion by "Underwear Bomber" could not have blown up plane

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Washington, March 11(ANI): An experiment conducted by a BBC documentary team has proven that even if the "Underwear Bomber" had exploded his device on Christmas day, 2009, the Airbus A330 would have survived.

On Dec. 25, 2009 Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the man dubbed as the "Underwear Bomber", boarded Northwest Airlines Flight 253, flying from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Sewn into Abdulmutallab's underwear was about 80 grams of pentaerythirtol tetranitrate, or PETN, a powerful explosive.

As the Airbus A330 was about to touch down in Detroit, Abdulmutallab allegedly removed a syringe and tried to ignite the PETN and blow up the aircraft.

Instead of a powerful explosion, however, Abdulmutallab created a small fire, which was extinguished.

The would-be bomber was subdued by other passengers and crew members on the flight.

According to a report in the Discovery News, using a decommissioned Boeing 747, Captain J. Joseph, an aviation expert, explosives expert John Wyatt and the BBC team set about recreating the conditions of last year's attempted bombing.

They placed about 80 grams of PETN's base material, pentaerythritol, near the 747's fuselage where Abdulmutallab was seated.

Eighty grams of pentaerythritol contains about the same explosive power as a hand grenade, but lacks the hot, sharp metal fragments of an actual grenade that cause so much damage.

The BBC set up cameras and Wyatt set off the explosives.

In the BBC documentary, entitled "How Safe Are Our Skies," the controlled detonation of the explosives lasted a scant 0.94 milliseconds, but the results were clear to cameras.

Shock waves rippled through the exterior aluminum skin of the aircraft like fat water drops of water hitting the surface of a smooth pond.

The metal was permanently bowed out, and a handful of rivets were punched out, but no gaping holes appeared.

The pressurized air inside the cabin would have slowly leaked out of the missing rivets, said Joseph, a non- life-threatening situation.

The amount of explosives was "nowhere near enough" to bring down the plane, concluded Wyatt and Joseph.

The aircraft would have survived, but some of the passengers would not have.

"The alleged would-be bomber and the person seated next to him would both have likely died," said Wyatt.

The passengers sitting in front of and behind the terrorist would probably have been protected from serious bodily injury to the aircraft's metal seats.

Most passengers on the plane would have suffered ruptured eardrums as the shock wave created by the bomb traveled through the plane's cabin. (ANI)

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