The explosive devices intercepted in intelligence-led security checks on a UPS freighter at East Midland airport, UK and a FedEx cargo flight in Dubai were "probably" intended to detonate in flight, they were "viable", and could have brought down the aircraft, according to a statement today in Parliament by the UK Home Secretary Theresa May.

May announced a number of measures to reduce the risk of further such events, including banning all unaccompanied freight shipments not only from Yemen, where the two packages originated, but also from Somalia.

Because the PETN explosive in the bombs was packed into printer toner cartridges, May has put a temporary ban on the carriage of toner cartridges of more than 500g capacity in passenger hand baggage on UK flights, and the shipping by air freight of toner cartridges to and from the UK unless the consignment originates with a trusted shipper known to the UK Department for Transport. This ban will be reviewed after a month, by which time further studies will have determined how best to proceed in future, says May.

She reported that security providers at airports have been supplied with details of the devices to increase the likelihood of future recognition during scanning. The intelligence that led to the discovery of the explosive devices originated from Saudi Arabia, and the organisation that was responsible is a known group called Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. May says that there is no further indication of similar plots by the same organisation at present.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news