Flight recorders, otherwise known as a “black box”, are flight instruments that record and store the state and performance of an aircraft during operation. Two components, the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, are the standard parts that make up each flight recorder. Together, the flight recorder is able to record pertinent information from the aircraft flight instruments and cockpit such as altitude, speed, vertical acceleration, pitch, pilot cockpit communication, radio transmissions, and much more.
Flight recorders are often located within the tail of the aircraft and are a mandated installation by most government regulations across the world. The flight recorder stores all information on drives and the standard recorder has the ability to keep the most recent 2 hours of speech and sound, as well as 25 hours of flight information. The flight information is stored within a unit that protects the internal components, often comprising of stainless steel and aluminum. These materials, along with plenty of insulation, make the recorder extremely protected against extreme temperatures, pressures, and impacts. They also are able to emit a signal for up to a month’s time to make their location easier to find.
Flight recorders in many forms have been present in aircraft throughout history. A rudimentary version of the flight recorder was even present on the first Wright brothers flight which recorded both propeller rotation and airspeed. With the inception and development of commercial aircraft, flight recorders have served as an invaluable asset to better understand the problems that arise in aircraft, and how to avoid them moving forward. Their mandatory installation came to be around the 1960’s, as their importance and reliability had greatly improved. Altogether, flight recorders enable us to better understand situations that aircraft face during accidents or issues. The more we can understand every detail and issue, the better we can prevent dangers for the future.
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