Tuesday, May 25, 2010

BLACK BOX - What is Black Box in Flight

     Black Box is a  combination of two devices  the Cockpit  Voice Recorder (CPC)  and the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR). While  CVR captures radio transmissions, the DFDR logs actual flight conditions, including altitude, airspeed, heading, vertical acceleration,engine thrust, rudder position and aircraft pitch.   
      This Black Box was invented in 1953  by  Dr. David Warren of the Aeronautical Research Laboratories in Melbourne, Australia.  He was the first person to conceive the idea of recording  the flight crew’s conversation on an airplane and of protecting that  recording in the event of a crash or fire.   The purpose of the  Black Box was to help in identifying the reasons for a plane crash, by recording any clues in the flight crew’s conversation.   In 1960, Australia became the first country to make flight recorders mandatory in aircraft. What is the colour of the Black Box ? Contrary to the  “Black Box” reference, the exterior of this device is coated with heat resistant  Bright Red Paint  Or Bright Orange paint for high visibility  in crashes.

      This Bright Red / Bright Orange  painted Box is called Black Box  because of the tragic circumstances in which the system is generally retrieved and has nothing to do with the colour of its outer casing. Black box gives crucial inputs to investigator on the causes of air mishaps.  One device digitally records all conversations inside the cockpit and those with the air traffic controllers and gives vital clues to the cause of any air disaster.  This Black Box is mounted in the aircraft’s  empennage (tail section) and not in the Cockpit, since that is the area normally least affected during air crashes and more likely to survive a severe crash.  

     This device is almost in a size of a shoebox.  It has a reflective tape on its exterior and can withstand extreme temperatures.  It has a solid steel encasing and heat resistant material to withstand heavy impact and razing fire.  This Box has an underwater locating device, which gets activated immediately upon contact with the water and help in its retrieval, in case of aircraft been drowned  into  the water.
      This recorded data  can be analysed for the purpose of checking deviations in flight parameters  beyond acceptable limits which are critical to flight safety.    Experts at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)  will decode the Black Box from the Air India aircraft in the national capital. If for some reason, the data retrieval becomes difficult, they will take the help of aircraft manufacturer Boeing.


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