What is the black box?

Your question of the month in September (2014)
Thoya, 10 years old

The black box, also known as the flight recorder, is a very important device that can be found in every commercial plane. It records a lot of data during the flight, for example altitude, speed, direction and many other things. It can also record sounds, including radio communication as well as any announcements and background noise.

You might be wondering why? It's simple: In the event of an accident, the black box can give information about what happened on board and how the crash occurred. That is very important to be able to learn from what happened and avoid another accident in the future.

Because the black box is located in the plane, it also goes down with the plane in the event of a crash. So that it doesn't break, it is made from especially tough materials. That means it can survive a heavy impact, landing in water and even fire! So that search teams can still find it if it lands a long way away, the black box sends out its own signals. A pretty good invention, don't you think?

By the way, black boxes aren't actually black as you might think, but in fact orange and are about the size of a shoebox. The Australian aviation technician, David Warren, came up with the idea for these ingenious devices while he was studying a number of crashes without witnesses. He presented the first model a long time ago in the mid-1950s. At Lufthansa, we don't just use the black box in the event of an accident, but also for the maintenance of planes and for pilot training. The black box provides us with very important data for all these purposes.