what colour is an aircraft black box

Aircraft Black Box Colour

Black Box, every one of us have already heard about this term in aircraft investigations and news, after each crash of an airplane, investigators rush to find the Black Box to download flight data, recordings, and different parameters saved during the last aircraft’s flights. There is also another simple device for emergency locating usually used in smaller aircraft, read What does ELT stand for in aviation? (Full Explanation) for more.

Below, we will discuss what is the color used to paint the black box and why they choose that color exactly. We will also illustrate the functions of the black box, why it is used, and its importance of it.

What color is an aircraft’s black box?

Despite the popular name “Black” Box, Black boxes are painted with the high visibility color known as “International Orange” to aid in recovery and search operations to find the device and collect important flight data after an aircraft accident or incident.

In the early days of the development and exploitation of black boxes, when it’s firstly used in Australia in the early 1950s, black boxes were simply painted black. These early versions used magnetic tape to record sounds from microphones distributed around the cockpit and were encased with metal boxes containing fireproof material, this metal box was painted in Black only to prevent the metal from rusting, and that where the term “Black” box came from.

In modern aircraft the technology used in Black boxes has been changed, solid-state memories and surface mounted devices SMD chips and electronic components are used to record cockpit voices and flight data. For safety and recovery-related needs we will explain below, engineers decided to change the color used to paint black boxes in aircraft to Orange.

What is a black box in aviation?

Black Box or (flight recorder) in aviation – Is an electronic device used in aviation placed in aircraft to record voices and save data to analyze and figure out the causes of aviation accidents and incidents.

Black Books and flight recording system consists of two main devices:

  1. The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) is used to record recent flight’s voices in the cockpit and communication between the aircraft and the air traffic control (ATC).
  2. Flight data recorder (FDR) saves and collects different flight data parameters for recent flights like airspeed, altitude, heading, etc.

These two devices are encased and combined into one single unit, both of the devices CVR and FDR document the flight history and help investigators figured out what happened today aircraft after an emergency.

International civil aviation organization known as ICAO regulates the specification under usage of black boxes, both of the Black Box recording devices are required for each aircraft to fly.

Modern black boxes and the Orange-painted metal casing

Now, as we know modern black boxes or flight recorders aren’t black but painted in high visibility Orange color, and we know the importance and usage of them, you would ask why exactly they are painted in that color?

To answer this question we should know the difficulties facing investigators recovering lock boxes after an aircraft crash. aircraft crashes often happen after hard situations with struggling Pilots who want to control the aircraft, causing the aircraft to deviate from its flight route and crash in remote areas such as mountains and oceans (because water covers 70% of the globe).

In land-crashed aircraft, high-speed impacts on the ground cause aircraft parts and sections to shudder across vast areas, and aircraft devices and systems such as flight recorders (black boxes) sometimes get covered under the ruins.

In ocean-crashed aircraft, the impact power that aircraft touches the water at high speeds also causes the aircraft parts and sections to shudder across vast areas and be drawn into deep oceans.

the first step of any aircraft crash investigation, it’s to find the aircraft’s black box to help investigators understand the aircraft situation and the scenario that caused the aircraft crash. for this reason, aircraft engineers and designers used the orange color to paint flight recorders to aid investigators in finding these devices after an aircraft crash.

The height reflection specifications the high visibility orange color help humans to detect the location of the device visually in low-light environments.

For this reason aircraft, black boxes are designed to work under extreme environments,  with fireproof materials under the metal casing and  Cushing materials to dampen the impact forces, memory board units inside the device can survive impacts with nearly 3,000 G’s (gravitational acceleration units), high temperatures reach 1000  Celsius, and high pressures encountered at 6000 underwater. After the crash, these devices were designed to emit an ultrasonic signal for at least 30 days to be found and recovered by sonars.  After the unexplained disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 in 2014, the ICAO code for live streaming of flight data between the aircraft and ground and extent of the battery life for the beacons emitting the locating signal.

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