A leaked classified report indicating that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may be unable to detect and extinguish bombs made of thermite —
an explosive combination of rust and aluminum powder —
is alarming, according to aviation expert Todd Curtis who appeared Monday on Newsmax TV's
"It can't be detected with normal X-ray screening and explosive detection systems that they have in place right now," Curtis said. "Several pounds of it, if placed in the right position, could burn a hole through the fuselage, it's a cause for concern."
Story continues below video.
Note: Watch Newsmax TV now on DIRECTV Ch. 349 and DISH Ch. 223
Get Newsmax TV on your cable system – Click Here Now
"One thing that's in the favor of the flying public and the TSA: it isn't exactly easy to put together an IED and explode it or set it off inside an aircraft," Curtis said. "The underwear bomber and the shoe bomber are two examples of the last lines of defense, the average passenger being a critical factor that can prevent this from happening in real life."
The Intercept reported
that in December, the TSA warned, in an advisory classified as secret, that "the ignition of a thermite-based incendiary device
on an aircraft at altitude could result in catastrophic damage and the death of every person onboard."
Exacerbating the threat is that a side effect of thermite is that it "kicks off quite a bit of noxious fumes and blinding smoke inside the cabin." Curtis noted that because thermite carries its own oxidizer in the rust, it cannot be extinguished with the standard type of fire extinguisher on board airplanes.
Because of social media and modern communications systems throughout the world, it's relatively simple to find out the common elements of explosives and poisons, Curtis said.
"There's plenty of examples for people to draw from," he said. "The creativity of those who wish to do ill is served well by the knowledge that's already out there, Internet notwithstanding."
Curtis also weighed in on the search for missing Malaysia Air Flight 370
, which disappeared March 8 after taking off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing.
Satellite images have narrowed the search area to roughly the size of West Virginia, 40 percent of which has already been covered, he said.
A $50 million effort is underway to scan the bottom of the ocean.
He opined that the downing could have resulted from "some sort of multiple or cascading system failures that caused the aircraft and the crew to behave in a manner that left the aircraft in the middle of nowhere."
Or it could have been an act of terror.
"The most diabolical theory I can come up with is essentially a normal hijacking, that is, someone who was either on the inside of the organization crew, executive, etc., or some bad actor on the outside of the organization decided to commandeer this aircraft," he theorized.
"As far as higher level or more sophisticated conspiracies, there's been quite a bit of attention paid over the last year to all sorts of potential conspiracies and as far as I'm aware, there is no military, law enforcement or national security organization that has made any statement that says there's a serious chance of this having happened."
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.