About this Flight 253 thing:
Abdulmutallab, the privately-educated son of one of Nigeria’s most prominent bankers, managed to smuggle his bomb aboard the aircraft by strapping a condom filled with the high explosive PETN to the inside of his leg and then attempting to detonate it using a syringe filled with a liquid chemical. The PETN powder caught fire but did not explode, sparing the lives of all those on board.
Investigators are worried that AQAP has developed what is effectively an “undetectable bomb” involving PETN that can only be found by using expensive and intrusive full body scanners at airports, with huge implications for airport security.
PETN ain’t new. First World War German uses are known for example.
But skimming the Wikipedia page I don’t see that it’s really all that much of a problem. OK, so there’s this liquid used to ignite it.
You still need two things. You need an actual explosion, not a fizzle. And (and this is where I could be very wrong) usually an explosion isn’t caused actually by the explosive. It’s caused by the containment of the explosive. Set off a pile of gunpowder and you get an interesting fizzle. Contain the gunpowder and as it burns, the pressure rises, then you get the explosion from the bursting of the containment.
The second thing you need is that liquid. And how much liquid are you allowed to take into a cabin these days?
Quite, So how much explosive can you set off with your 100 ml? Even if you can contain it are you going to get anything more than an interesting pop?
I agree that I could be wildly wrong here and that this is simply mildly informed speculation. But might we not be in a situation where the system really is working? The current regulations mean that even if PETN is undetectable, the restrictions on liquids mean that no one’s going to be able to get enough together and explode it on a plane to actually do any damage?