Why Is the Black Box Orange?


Quick Answer

The black box in airplanes and helicopters, which is actually orange, is brightly colored to help investigators retrieve data stored in those boxes in the event of a crash. Black boxes come in two separate parts: a voice recorder and a flight data recorder. Despite having an entirely different color now, black boxes were originally dark colored at the time of their creation, which was around World War II, and that's how the name originated.

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Full Answer

Black boxes were some of the first types of electronic accessories used by pilots. Initially, black boxes appeared only in military aircraft during World War II. They proved valuable for their role in taking photographs and recording flight information, which made them appealing for FAA administrators searching for methods to track commercial flights.

Following the second world war, aviation engineers translated the technology to civilian aircraft at the request of FAA officials, who needed to analyze and investigate the causes of passenger jet crashes. In 1960, following the crash of a passenger jet, Australia was the first nation to require all passenger planes to have black boxes onboard. Other nations followed, and all passenger planes had to carry black boxes before 1970. Although all planes must carry these boxes, the FAA allows considerable variation in shape, size and even color.

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