Suprisingly the flight data recorder(fdr) popularly called “the black box” in aviation palarnce is neither a box nor black in colour. Though the device has it’s history which dates back to the earliest days of aviation, no one is sure as to why it is popularly called “the black box” the device is actually an orange coloured cylinder mounted on two large piece of metal, and it looks more like an air compressor than a tape recorder. The term “box”refers to when the recordings were made on metallic tapes which have been replaced by digital memory boards, though the old models could scarcely still be found in older aircrafts.
WHY IS IT CALLED BLACK BOX?
No one is actually sure as to why they are popularly called “black box” there are several theories, which includes that it is a term favoured by the media. Most people in the aviation industry don’t call them that, other theories includes the fact that after any crash, the boxes normally turn black probably due to charring or burnt from the preceding fire after the crash, another theory is that the earlier models were perfectly dark inside. But the truth is that the flight recorder is actually orange in colour. Why orange? you may ask, well!! I suppose a flashy colour like that would make it easier to locate in a bush, rubbles or underwater.
THE “BLACK BOX” COMES IN TWO PARTS
Are you surprised? Well! Yes the FDR comes in two parts, why? You may ask, yeah it comes in two parts because one part records happenings in the cockpit ( pilots) while the other part records what happens in the other parts of the plane. Amazing right?
WHERE IS THIS “BLACK BOX”
Initially the FDR was located in the cockpit along with the instruments and pilots, but on few occasions of air mishaps, the FDR could not be located, so it was then moved to the rear(tail) of the planes, this is due to the fact that most aircrafts crash by “nosediving” meaning the the area with the least impact would be the tail of the aircraft, in addition, the units of initially was built to withstand a 100gs impact but this was increased to 1000gs impact, that means the current flight data recorders are able to withstand the worst form of crashes apart from the impact withstand ability, the FDR’s are also able to withstand fire as hot as 1100 degree centigrade for about 60 minutes..wow!!!.
HOW CAN THEY BE LOCATED IN CASES OF CRASHED
Well!! The BLACKBOXES are fitted with an underwater location beacon that starts emmitting puleses known as pings immediately it touches water. This means that BLACKBOXES can only be detected by pings if only the aircraft in underwater. In cases where the crash happened on land, searchers will only have to be looking for an orange colour as a visual beacon.
When a black box touches water, they can work to a depth of a little over 4km, and pings once every 30 seconds for the next 30 days before the battery runs down. This means in an event where a plane crashes into water, it can only be detected by the pings of the black box within 30 days, after which the chances of finding the plane becomes slim..