It was lucky that the bomb didn’t go off on Delta Airlines Flight 253 by the so-called Christmas bomber. However recent research shows that the Airbus A330 with 278 might have been able to land, if the bomb had detonated.
BBC News did some research with a Boeing 747 that showed that flight 253’s fuselage most likely would not have broken and it should have been able to land safely. The testing shows the bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and the passenger next to him would have most likely been killed, making it still a very horrific event. The explosion would cause injuries to passengers, smoke and chaos, but the plane would have still been able to land completely intact.
Dr John Wyatt, an international terrorism and explosives adviser to the UN, replicated the conditions on board the Detroit flight on a decommissioned Boeing 747 at an aircraft graveyard in Gloucestershire, England. The amount of explosives found on the bomber would not have been enough to break the skin of the flexible aluminum making up the aircraft’s fuselage. Even though the Boeing 747 was not the aircraft that flew on flight 253, the two planes are made similarly enough to be used in the test.
The researchers couldn’t do into great details of the damages that were caused for security reasons, but their goal is to assure passengers that airlines are safer than most people think. For the tests the plane was not pressurized since flight 253 was at about 10,000 feet and the pressure would have been similar on the inside and outside of the fuselage. The results could be much more different at a higher altitude.