How does the black box work?


A black box, or flight data recorder, is used to record specific aircraft performance parameters. Data recorded by the FDR is used for accident investigation, analyzing air safety issues, material degradation, and engine performance. AnswerParty!

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flight data recorder

A flight data recorder (FDR) (also ADR, for accident data recorder) is an electronic device employed to record any instructions sent to any electronic systems on an aircraft. It is a device used to record specific aircraft performance parameters. Another kind of flight recorder is the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), which records conversation in the cockpit, radio communications between the cockpit crew and others (including conversation with air traffic control personnel), as well as ambient sounds. In this both functions have been combined into a single unit. The current applicable FAA TSO is C124b titled Flight Data Recorder Systems.

Popularly referred to as a "black box" by the media, the data recorded by the FDR is used for accident investigation, as well as for analyzing air safety issues, material degradation and engine performance. Due to their importance in investigating accidents, these ICAO-regulated devices are carefully engineered and stoutly constructed to withstand the force of a high speed impact and the heat of an intense fire. Contrary to the "black box" reference, the exterior of the FDR is coated with heat-resistant bright orange paint for high visibility in wreckage, and the unit is usually mounted in the aircraft's empennage (tail section), where it is more likely to survive a severe crash. Following an accident, the recovery of the FDR is usually a high priority for the investigating body, as analysis of the recorded parameters can often detect and identify causes or contributing factors.

Air safety

Aviation safety is a term encompassing the theory, investigation, and categorization of flight failures, and the prevention of such failures through regulation, education, and training. It can also be applied in the context of campaigns that inform the public as to the safety of air travel.

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Flight recorder

A flight recorder is an electronic recording device placed in an aircraft for the purpose of facilitating the investigation of an aircraft accident or incident. For this reason, flight recorders are required to be capable of surviving the conditions likely to be encountered in a severe aircraft accident. They are typically specified to withstand an impact of 3400 g and temperatures of over 1,000 °C (1,832 °F) (as required by EUROCAE ED-112). There are two common types of flight recorder, the flight data recorder (FDR) and the cockpit voice recorder (CVR). In some cases, the two recorders may be combined in a single FDR/CVR unit.

Since the 1970s most large civil jet transports have been additionally equipped with a "quick access recorder" (QAR). This records data on a removable storage medium. Access to the FDR and CVR is necessarily difficult because of the requirement that they survive an accident. They also require specialized equipment to read the recording. The QAR recording medium is readily removable and is designed to be read by equipment attached to a standard desktop computer. In many airlines the quick access recordings are scanned for 'events', an event being a significant deviation from normal operational parameters. This allows operational problems to be detected and eliminated before an accident or incident results.

Data logger

A data logger (also datalogger or data recorder) is an electronic device that records data over time or in relation to location either with a built in instrument or sensor or via external instruments and sensors. Increasingly, but not entirely, they are based on a digital processor (or computer). They generally are small, battery powered, portable, and equipped with a microprocessor, internal memory for data storage, and sensors. Some data loggers interface with a personal computer and utilize software to activate the data logger and view and analyze the collected data, while others have a local interface device (keypad, LCD) and can be used as a stand-alone device.

Data loggers vary between general purpose types for a range of measurement applications to very specific devices for measuring in one environment or application type only. It is common for general purpose types to be programmable; however, many remain as static machines with only a limited number or no changeable parameters. Electronic data loggers have replaced chart recorders in many applications.

Black box

In science and engineering, a black box is a device, system or object which can be viewed in terms of its input, output and transfer characteristics without any knowledge of its internal workings. Its implementation is "opaque" (black). Almost anything might be referred to as a black box: a transistor, an algorithm, or the human brain.

The opposite of a black box is a system where the inner components or logic are available for inspection, which is sometimes known as a clear box, a glass box, or a white box.

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Disaster Accident

A disaster is a natural or man-made (or technological) hazard resulting in an event of substantial extent causing significant physical damage or destruction, loss of life, or drastic change to the environment. A disaster can be ostensively defined as any tragic event stemming from events such as earthquakes, floods, catastrophic accidents, fires, or explosions. It is a phenomenon that can cause damage to life and property and destroy the economic, social and cultural life of people.

In contemporary academia, disasters are seen as the consequence of inappropriately managed risk. These risks are the product of a combination of both hazard/s and vulnerability. Hazards that strike in areas with low vulnerability will never become disasters, as is the case in uninhabited regions.

Technology Internet

The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to serve several billion users worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks, of local to global scope, that are linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries an extensive range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents of the World Wide Web (WWW), the infrastructure to support email, and peer-to-peer networks.

Most traditional communications media including telephone, music, film, and television are being reshaped or redefined by the Internet, giving birth to new services such as voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Internet Protocol television (IPTV). Newspaper, book and other print publishing are adapting to website technology, or are reshaped into blogging and web feeds. The Internet has enabled and accelerated new forms of human interactions through instant messaging, Internet forums, and social networking. Online shopping has boomed both for major retail outlets and small artisans and traders. Business-to-business and financial services on the Internet affect supply chains across entire industries.


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