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The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a governmental agency tasked with securing all modes of transportation in the U.S., has noticed an increase of airline passengers traveling with airbags – yes, the government-mandated inflatable safety devices that reside in our vehicles to keep us from impacting the steering wheel, dashboard and side pillars in a crash. While airbags are pricey commodities on the secondary market in the States, they are worth even more overseas says the TSA. Looking to save a few bucks, dim-witted passengers are packing the airbags in their checked baggage and carry-on luggage to avoid the legal (but complicated) shipping procedures.

As a refresher, the typical automotive airbag is quite the explosive little bundle – it does not make a great travel companion. Packed tightly within its protective covering is the folded nylon airbag – but that's the inert part. A tiny igniter sits poised behind the bag waiting for the signal to set off the solid propellant (think Space Shuttle SRB). When it goes, a large volume of nitrogen gas is released at about 200 mph – the bag is fully expanded in about 1/25 of a second (it will knock your peanuts clear to first class, if you were wondering).

Common knowledge says these things simply don't blow by themselves – it takes a 12-volt charge to set airbags off (don't try it at home, kids). In any case, the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Security and Hazardous Materials has added airbag actuators to the list of non-approved hazardous materials. The TSA wants to remind everyone to ship the "hazmat" airbags via the proper channels – do not bring them with you on a commercial airliner.

[Source: Transportation Safety Administration, Photo by TSA]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      They're worried about the plane crashing, and just want some added protection.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "the bag is fully expanded in about 1/25 of a second (it will knock your peanuts clear to first class...)"

        ...and other "nuts" in the process.

      • 4 Years Ago
      And these things are ok to go off in your face in an auto crash? Unbelievable
      • 4 Years Ago
      I've seen airbags trigger with regular 5V signaling, so I don't doubt kiwisteve at all. I would think that the real reasoning behind banning airbags from passenger aircraft has more to do with the security aspect. The released kinetic energy from an activated airbag is more than enough to tear a large chunk out of an aluminum fuselage. The opportunity for pieces of an airbag assembly to be used as explosive devices that don't have the normal chemical signatures that airport MS sniffers use, is kind of scary.

      Rather than having X-ray operators try to identify airbags, then determine the passengers' intent, it seems smarter to just ban them completely.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You hit the nail on the head, Chris.
      Vera Strumolo
      • 4 Years Ago
      OK, I have to ask the obvious question....Why on earth would a regular passenger even be trying to carry an air bag on board a plane? I mean, what?????
      • 4 Years Ago
      Are people really so stupid they need the TSA to tell them they cannot carry primed and ready to go automotive airbags with them on airlines? Really?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Another Big Government "mandate" straight from the loony bin.
      • 4 Years Ago
      My bag goes off every morning around 6:30am.....right after i tell her to get up and make my coffee.........
      • 4 Years Ago
      I want to bring my inertial fuel shutoff for the plane too!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I guess that means, I can ship my Mother In-law UPS Ground.
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