Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Black Box in an airplane

Topics Covered: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Black Box in an airplane

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Black Box- meaning and significance.

Context: On January 8th, a passenger plane bound for Ukraine exploded as it slammed into a field in Iran, just minutes after takeoff killing at least 176 people on board. Questions remain about the cause, and there have been some contradictory statements from officials in both Iran and Ukraine.

  • The plane’s so-called black boxes could help answer some of those questions, but Iranian officials may not turn the devices over to Boeing, which would typically be involved in an investigation into what went wrong.

What is a Black Box?

Any commercial aeroplane or corporate jet is required to be equipped with a cockpit voice recorder and a flight data recorder. It is these two items of separate equipment which we commonly refer to as a ‘Black Box.’

While they do nothing to help the plane when it is in the air, both these pieces of equipment are vitally important should the plane crash, as they help crash investigators find out what happened just before the crash.

To help locate the cockpit voice recorder and a flight data recorder in the aftermath of a plane crash that occurs at sea, each recorder has a device fitted to it known as an Underwater Locator Beacon (ULB). The device is activated as soon as the recorder comes into contact with water and it can transmit from a depth as deep as 14,000 feet. Also, to help investigators find them; a Black Box is not actually black at all, but bright orange.

Sources: the Hindu.