In case of a plane crash, there are several unanswered questions about what exactly caused the plane down. The investigators, in this case, take help of the airplane's flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit voice recorder (CVR), also called "black boxes," for answers. Sometimes, the two recorders is also combined in a single FDR/CVR unit.
A flight recorder is placed in an aircraft to facilitate the investigation of an aircraft in case of an accident. The black boxes get power by one of two power generators that get power from the engines of the plane. Together called the black box, the equipment gives key inputs to investigators the reasons of air mishaps.
It is a sturdy system not larger than a size of shoe box. It records the conversations inside the cockpit and those with the air traffic controllers, among its other uses, giving vital clues to the cause of any air disaster.
The black boxes are painted with bright orange, the strips of reflective tape at the recorders' exteriors, help probe officals locate the black boxes after an accident.
The recorders are built to survive the conditions likely to be encountered in a aircraft accident. The black box is generally kept at the end of the aircraft, the area thought to be least affected in the case of an accident.
Once a black box is found, it is taken to the computer labs with special care to avoid any damage to the recording device. The data is downloaded from the recorders in order to recreate the events of the accident. The whole process can take weeks or even months to complete.
In case, the FDR is working fine, investigators can play it on the recorder by plugging it with a readout system. In this way, with the use of solid-state recorders, the stored data can be extracted in minutes.
(With IANS inputs)