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What exactly is a Flight Data Recorder or Black Box?

plane black box

A plane black box or flight data recorder are the instruments that record the performance and condition of an aircraft in flight.

And they play an important role in the investigation of plane accidents. And there are two recorders: a Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) for pilot voices or cockpit sounds and a Flight Data Recorder (FDR).

In the aviation industry, Flight Data and Cockpit Voice Recorders have also been known. but in the media, they call it black boxes. And they must be in every aircraft be it commercial, private, or military aircraft.

Using a specific algorithm to record all flight information into the black box. This makes the recorded flight data available to authorities when needed.

The black box assists in determining the cause of the accidents, which leads to helping find ways to prevent them.

The newer versions of the Flight Data Recorder require storing a minimum of 25 hours of flight information. As for the cockpit voice recorder, it requires recording a minimum of 2 hours of audio information.

And both black boxes are usually installed in the plane’s tail it all depends on the individual plane. Putting them in the back increases their chances of survival.

When it’s referred to as a black box, why is it orange?

Contrary to popular belief, the black box is mostly bright orange, not black.

There is much speculation about naming it a black box. One theory is that early black boxes have used on mail runs and military flights to store secret communications. Another guess is that it is black because it sits quietly.

The name “Black Boxes” may have originated in early engineering design philosophies, where boxes that contained electronic components referred to as “black boxes” or possibly by their original color which was black.

But the main reason the color was changed to bright orange is to help search and recovery teams to find the recorders when searching an accident scene. it’s easier to spot in the wreckage.

How is the plane black box made?

They are made made of Titanium metal and are enclosed in a Titanium box to give it the strength to withstand any shock if it falls in the sea or falls from any height.

The main objective of the plane black box is to survive the crash and be recovered so that investigators can find answers, but that is very difficult on the ocean floor.

Fortunately, black boxes have an Underwater Locator Beacon that starts pinging its location once it comes into contact with water.

The black box is designed to be as strong as granite Even at a temperature of 1100 degrees Celsius, the structural integrity can remain intact for a certain period.

How does a Black Box work?

The Black Box, as previously noted, is made of titanium. It can operate without electricity for 30 days. In addition, It can withstand temperatures as high as 11000°C.

If this box is lost, it will continue to emit signals and a beep sound for approximately 30 days, The investigators can identify the signal from a distance of roughly 2-3 kilometers.

In addition, They are equipped with an underwater locator beacon (ULB), if an aircraft crashes into water, the beacon sends out an ultrasonic pulse that is detectable by sonar and audio equipment to depths of approximately 14,000 feet.

plane black box

Data retrieval from black boxes?

Technicians carefully start removing the protective material and clean the connections to avoid accidentally erasing data. The audio and data file must be downloaded and copied.

The data itself means nothing. First, It must be decoded from raw files and then they attempt to recreate the events of the accident.

If the FDR is not damaged, investigators can simply play it back on the recorder by connecting it to a readout system. And in the unlikely event that recorders retrieved from the wreckage are dented or burned.

The technicians start the process of extracting the storage parts and cleaning them and connecting them with special software to facilitate the retrieval of data without the possibility of overwriting any of it.

In addition, a team of experts is usually assembled to interpret the recordings stored on a CVR.

The FDR and CVR are both incredibly valuable devices for any aircraft investigation. They are usually the lone survivors of aircraft crashes, and as such, they provide crucial clues to the cause that would be impossible to obtain in any other way.