What's Actually Inside an Aeroplane's Black Box?

By Bryan Menegus on at

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 980°C 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 aeroplane’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.