When there is an aircraft accident, the investigators first look for the black boxes. These are the devices which record what is going on throughout a flight, so the investigation team can reconstruct what happened.

The aviation industry takes accident reports very seriously. Improvements and changes to aircraft design and even things such as how the pilots are trained to interact with each other all come from lessons learned through these devices.

Who Invented The Black Boxes?

Black boxes are perhaps the most misnamed thing in the world. They are not black and nor are they actually called this. Their names are correctly and accurately the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and the Flight Data Recorder (FDR).

They were invented in Australia by a man by the name of David Warren. Air safety would perhaps be very different without this invention as countless lives have been saved by knowing what causes aircraft accidents. Read the BBC’s fascinating piece detailing the story of the invention here.

Where Are The Black Boxes Located?

You can find the Cockpit Voice Recorder and the Flight Data Recorder somewhere in the rear of an aircraft. This is the part most likely to survive in the event of a crash. As the old joke goes, “I always sit at the rear of the plane as you’ve never heard of an aircraft backing into a mountain, have you?”

On a Qantas Boeing 747-400, you can find them in the crew rest area. This is where cabin crew take their breaks during very long international flights, which is located above the passenger cabin in the rear.

Inside a panel next to one of the bunks is where the CVR and FDR are situated. They are a bright orange colour, which makes them easier to find after an accident, so they’re not actually black, despite the name.

Overall Thoughts

So why are they called black boxes? Well, is apparently could relate to a photographic version that existed in the 1930s according to a blog post here. Either way, I daresay the incorrect name has well and truly stuck by this stage!

Did you know the black boxes were actually orange and located at the rear of an aircraft? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Eluveitie via Wikimedia Commons.
David Warren image by Australian Government, Department of Defence – Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) via Wikimedia Commons.