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Need Of The Hour- The Black Box

Need Of The Hour- The Black Box

In 1953, the world’s first ever jet powered airplane, de Havilland Comet, crashed a total of four times. Out of which, three were deadly mid-air incidents, baffling the Air crash investigators. David Warren, an Australian researcher and Fuel Expert, who was among the committee that analyzed the issues with the Comet, figured that if the cockpit noise could be heard, that will give away the causality of crashes. Hence, he set out on a task to build the first Black Box.


In the early days of aviation, we actually did have devices that were capable of recording flight data, but these devices were devoid of the crucial voice recording feature that the devices of today have. Moreover, these little gadgets could be used only once. A small voice recorder, which David spotted at a Trade show, paved the path of inspiration. Warren then put together a magnetic recording device which was erasable & re-recordable. In 1957, the first batch of this device, were manufactured. This was called the “Flight Memory Unit”. It used solid steel foil and recorded 4 hours of Voice & Instrument data. A Black Box, is a combination of Flight Data Recorder (FDR) & a Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), is quintessential for Air crash investigators, but faced a lot of critique from the Aviation Industry who feared, it would bring up Privacy issues.

The Black Box, today

Following a 1960 crash, the Australian government was finally compelled to use flight data recorders on their commercial planes, making them the pioneer. Today’s orange-colored recorders are loaded with several features that help recreate accidents and detect errors and responses, survive a deep sea pressure dive as well as fire, making it indestructible.

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