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Shock and Vibration
Volume 13, Issue 6, Pages 629-650

Design and Test of a Blast Shield for Boeing 737 Overhead Compartment

Xinglai Dang and Philemon C. Chan

L3 Communications, 3394 Carmel Mountain Road, San Diego, CA 92121-1002, USA

Received 13 September 2006; Revised 13 September 2006

Copyright © 2006 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This work demonstrates the feasibility of using a composite blast shield for hardening an overhead bin compartment of a commercial aircraft. If a small amount of explosive escapes detection and is brought onboard and stowed in an overhead bin compartment of a passenger aircraft, the current bins provide no protection against a blast inside the compartment. A blast from the overhead bin will certainly damage the fuselage and likely lead to catastrophic inflight structural failure. The feasibility of using an inner blast shield to harden the overhead bin compartment of a Boeing 737 aircraft to protect the fuselage skin in such a threat scenario has been demonstrated using field tests. The blast shield was constructed with composite material based on the unibody concept. The design was carried out using LS-DYNA finite element model simulations. Material panels were first designed to pass the FAA shock holing and fire tests. The finite element model included the full coupling of the overhead bin with the fuselage structure accounting for all the different structural connections. A large number of iterative simulations were carried out to optimize the fiber stacking sequence and shield thickness to minimize weight and achieve the design criterion. Three designs, the basic, thick, and thin shields, were field-tested using a frontal fuselage section of the Boeing 737–100 aircraft. The basic and thick shields protected the integrity of the fuselage skin with no skin crack. This work provides very encouraging results and useful data for optimization implementation of the blast shield design for hardening overhead compartments against the threat of small explosives.