What is Black Box in airplanes?

3 Answers

A flight recorder is generally known as black box. It is an electronic recording device which is placed in an airplane and is used for the investigation of aviation accidents and other incidents. Presently it is available in orange in color.

 Dr. David Warren was the first Australian scientist who invented the black box. The Australian scientist was working at the Aeronautical Research Laboratory in Melbourne in the mid-1950s and he was involved for the examination of the mysterious accidents in the world’s first jet-powered commercial aircraft. It is useful for investigators in which the examinations of the recording for happening in the final moments before the airplane accident then he got to work on a basic flight data recorder.

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Australia became the first country in the world to make the Black Box compulsory for all commercial aircraft.

Flight Data Recorder (FDR):

It is a device that saves the recent history of the flight by the recording of dozens of limitations collected several times per second.

Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR):

It is a device which preserves the current history of the sounds in the cockpit including the conversations between the pilots. The two recorders give accurate evidence, narrating the aircraft's flight history for help in any later investigation.

The FDR and CVR may be combined in a single unit. The two recorders are essential for the international guideline which is supervised by the International Civil Aviation Organization, for the conditions likely to be encountered in a severe airplane accident. Due to this reason, they are typically specified to withstand a consequence of 3400 g and temperatures of over 1,000 °C (1,830 °F) as required by EUROCAE ED-112 and have been essential in commercial aircraft in the US since 1967.


Airplane crashes aren't common but when they occur, they end up claiming many lives. Thus, it is important to know the flaws of the flight technology so that such damages can be minimized, and a Black Box does exactly that. A black box is a special device which is installed in the cockpit of the airplane. Despite popular beliefs, it is orange in color, which makes it easy to detect.

Main Components of Black Box:

There are two main components which comprise of a complete black box unit, which are the CVR (Cockpit Voice Recorder) and the FDR (Flight Data Recorder). The CVR, as its name suggests, is a device which records every type of sound which is being made in the cockpit. It also records the conversation of the pilot and the co-pilot, and anyone else present in the cockpit.

Answer ImageThe FDR device is designed to keep track of every flight-related information and statistics that can be used in order to find out the condition of the aircraft during the flight. According to the codes given by the International Civil Aviation Organization, both of these devices need to be installed in the cockpit.

Where are they kept?

Usually, both of them are packaged in a single unit. Also, according to the codes, these devices must be able to survive even after a plane crash. Specifications given by the organization necessitate these devices must be designed in a way to be able to handle temperatures above 1,830 degrees Fahrenheit and heavy collisions up to 3400 g.

Answer ImageThese devices are extremely important as they can give an insight to investigators about the flight conditions and the conditions of the pilot. Also, they allow the airlines systems to improve. For example, a human error can help in the enacting of new laws and regulations regarding the employees, pilots and the flight security, while a technical error can help the engineers improve their techniques for creating and maintaining aircrafts..


Airplane accidents are still a rarity, but, when they happen they are deadly. Investigators want to know how and why such incidents occur and what measures need to take to keep them at bay. Private jet or commercial airlines are required to be equipped with ‘Flight Data Recorder’ and ‘Cockpit Voice Recorder’ which is commonly known as Black Box. Though, they have nothing to help with plane’s flight; but both of the equipment is equally important to help investigators in the case of any mishap.

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What Helps A Black Box Get Recovered Easily: 

To help locate the Black Box underwater, it also has a device fitted to it known as ‘Underwater Locator Beacon’ or ULB. The device is activated as soon as the Box comes into contact with water. It could transmit the signal from as deep as 14,000 feet. Also, opposite to the name and to quickly locate the black box, it is painted bright orange.

How Did A Black Box Come Into Existence:

Black Boxes have a long history and the dots connect to Wright Brothers. The Brothers carried some sort of recorders on their initial flights to record some important data such as propeller rotations, time spent in the air and distance traveled. Magnetic tape recorders can track up to 100 parameters whereas; solid-state recorders can track a lot more. 

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The modern Black Box was invented by an Australian scientist named Dr. David Warren. While working on a mysterious crash of a commercial jet; he realized that it would be helpful if there were a recording of what transpired on the plane just before the crash. Going forward, Australia was the first country to make these recorders compulsory for every commercial or private aircraft.

Immensely Used:

The extensive use of black boxes started after the World War II and it adopted the changes significantly after that. Older Black Boxes used a magnetic tape; the technology was first presented in 1960. The tape works same as the old tape recorder cassette; in which the tape is pulled on an electromagnetic head and writes the data onto the tape. Nowadays, Solid State Memory Boards are used which came handy in 1990’s. These new counterparts use stacked arrays of memory chips and don’t have any moving parts. With no moving parts, there are almost zero maintenance issues and lesser chances of something being broken during a smash.

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The Flight Data Recorder:

The piece is vital for air crash investigators as it records the different operating functions of a plane. In modern times, airplanes are furnished with sensors which gather data such as airspeed, altitude, outside temperature, cabin temperature, pressure, airspeed, flap settings, engine performance and direction in which the plane is heading. But these are just the basic functions, and the other information is equally important as they help investigators to generate a computer video reconstruction of a flight. 

The Cockpit Voice Recorder:

The primary feature of this device is to record what the crew said and monitor sounds that occur in the cockpit. Trained investigators are expert to pick on engine noise, emergency pings and stall warnings. This piece is also important as it contains all the communication between a pilot and ground control, crew, and other planes.

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Originally, Black Boxes were accommodated in the cockpit along with the other instruments. Only after several accidents where the boxes were not recovered; they get moved to the rear of the aircraft. They are now kept in the tail of the airplane where they are more feasible to survive a crash.

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