What’s Actually Inside An Airplane’s Black Box?


Whenever you hear about a tragic plane crash, you always hear about the mythical black box. What exactly does the black box do and what’s even inside it? What’s Inside took a look by cutting the black box (it’s not actually black) in half and ripping it open to see its guts.

The black box can withstand temperatures of 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and tolerate up to 3400 G forces (so it’s basically an indestructible beast). The purpose of a black box, or flight data recorder, is to keep a record of the airplane’s all-important flight data (flight path, speed, altitude, sensors, etc.), store the audio conversation between the pilots and the radio communication between the plane and air traffic control, and basically keep a log of anything else you need to figure out why a plane went down. With all that data, you can easily recreate what happened during a flight.

And it’s all stored on a chip. That’s the magic hidden inside a black box. But that’s not all there is inside. The black box has an indestructible, thick metal exterior that hides different layers of protection and insulation. There’s a hard, clay-like outer layer and a softer green cushion on the inside, designed to protect the precious chip.


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