What is Black box?

What is Black box?

Accidents such as the Charkhi Dadri mid-air collision, Air India Express flight 812, Air France 447, Korean Air flight 007 were some of the air crashes which were an eye opener for the Aviation industry. Investigators were able to find the cause of these accidents because of the data they found within the black boxes. A Black box is a recording device installed on most modern aircraft as well as mandated by authorities worldwide. They are expensive and cost between $10000 to $15000 each. They record several unique performance parameters throughout the flight which is then stored on solid state drives as well as other high capacity memory devices.

What’s inside the Black Box? 

While a black box has several precision instruments in it alongside some very clever design components, the two major instruments that are of the highest priority to investigators are:

1. Flight Data Recorder (FDR), and
2. Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR)

1. Flight Data Recorder : 

A Flight Data Recorder is one of the first devices that is searched for and consequently secured after an accident. It records various significant performance parameters such as airspeed, altitude, heading, pitch, etc. A modern FDR records a minimum of 88 parameters which is also the minimum requirement under the  United States Federal Regulations. When data is retrieved from an FDR, the investigators can render the data that reconstructs the flight prior to the crash.  An FDR records up to 25 hours of continuous data and has an impact tolerance off 3400Gs. It can resist up to 1100 Deg Celsius and a water pressure up to 20,000ft.

A sample of FDR Data: Click Here

2. Cockpit Voice Recorder : 

Cockpit Voice Recorder

A Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) is used to record the audio inside the cockpit. The audio is usually captured through the microphones of the pilot’s headsets along with the microphones present in the flight deck. A regular CVR is able to record 4 channels of audio data for 2 hours.

Modern-day block boxes store data in Solid State memory devices and use digital recording techniques which make them resistant to moisture, vibration, and shock. They also include a standby power source for redundancy should the aircraft lose its own electrical power supply
The black box is accompanied by an underwater location beacon (ULB) and an emergency location transmitter (ELT) that provide a consistent signal to special receivers which eventually help pinpoint their location after an accident. The beacon can ping up to 30 days with the available power source available inside.
Underwater Location Beacon

Why is the Black box not visually painted in a black color?

The color of the Black box isn't actually black as the name would suggest. The Black box is actually painted in Orange color. The reason for a majority of the vivid orange color on the outside is to aid its detection from a distance. The color is better visible against the dark color of the burnt residue in an accident which makes it easier to spot.

Thanks for reading!

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