No one is 100% sure why we refer to airplane flight recorders as black boxes – considering the fact that they are almost always painted bright orange! It could be that maybe the name comes from the fact that after an accident, the box is usually blackened thanks to the fire damage, or perhaps it simply took on the engineering term for an input device which given some inputs, does some magic internally and then spits out something else.
However, despite the media’s preference for calling this device a black box, it is more correct to call it a flight recorder – after all, that’s how the aviation industry refers to it in the first place!
Anyway, the media team over at Vox have put together a nice video explaining just how these data recorders are put together, as well as what data they store:
So, with cockpit audio recordings as well as numerous airplane instrument readouts stored, it is no wonder that flight recorders are so invaluable to investigators following an air disaster!