13 Facts About the Black Box

Admin Airplanes

1) Media Created the Name “Black Box”

The correct name for a “black box” is actually a flight recorder. The origin of the term “black box” is not clear, but the media has accepted its use. The term spread throughout the 1960s.

2) Black Boxes are Not Boxes

Black boxes are not shaped like a box. Instead, they look more like an air compressor rather than any type of recording device. There is a cylinder attached to two pieces of metal, and the cylinder part is the part that holds all the memory.

3) Been Around Half a Century

The same year the Boeing 707 made an appearance in the sky, black boxes came into existence. The year was 1957. The first black boxes were made out of magnetic tape recording. Today, they use flash memory-based technology. By 1967, all commercial flights were required to have a black box.

4) Durability

Each black box undergoes a series of tests to ensure it will be around after any accident. This includes chemical corrosion tests, salt water tests, impact, fire and spike penetration.

5) Can Survive in Any Temperature

Black Boxes are certified to withstand temperatures between -67 degrees Fahrenheit to 158 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition they can survive fire temperatures of up to 2,012 degrees F.

6) Crash Resistant

Black Boxes can withstand an impact that is 45 times greater than a car crash. A car crash generally has an impact between 50-75 g’s of force on a human. A black box is built to withstand 3,400 g’s of force.

7) Dual Language Label on Box

There are the words “Flight Recorder: Do Not Open,” in French on one side and English on the other side of a flight recorder. This is so only the proper investigating authorities open the box. It’s feared if a random person opens it they could interfere with a plane crash investigation.

8) No Altitude Sickness

Aside from being extremely durable, black boxes can be at altitudes of -1,000 feet and up to 55,000 feet.

9) Cannot Make the Whole Plane Out of the Same Material

Comedian George Carlin joked, “If the black box flight recorder is never damaged during a plane crash, then why isn’t the whole airplane made out of that stuff?” The answer: because the plane would be too heavy to fly. A black box is made out of stainless steel and titanium—a plane is made mostly out of aluminum and plastic.

10) Not Just for Commercial Use

Anybody can own a black box. Although it should be noted the price of a single one is kind of steep. A black box is valued at approximately $30,000.

11) A Beacon

Each black box has a beacon attached to it. When a plane is in an accident, the locator beacon is activated, emitting ultrasonic acoustic signals for 30 days. The hope is that this will make recovery of the plane easier.

12) Black Boxes Are Not Black

Anybody who has read Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk knows what color black boxes are. They are actually orange. Much like how hunters wear orange in the wilderness, the black box is meant to alert other people to its presence when it is in the area. It is orange so somebody can easily identify it.

13) They May Be Replaced

In the future, better technology may come along. Technology may be capable of streaming in-flight data. Since the mysterious vanishing of flight MH370 in 2014 where the plane was unable to be recovered despite having a black box, new technology has become desired.