This is more of a non-traditional Ask Cranky in that it’s been asked several times over the years, particularly in light of the Air France accident over the Atlantic when the thought was that the black boxes would never be found. The question? Why don’t airlines stream black box data so that they don’t have to actually find the box itself?

It’s a great question, and there are ways to do it. I spoke with Mark McWhirter, Business Development Coordinator at FLYHT about a product they have that does just that.

But first, let’s back up a little. What is a black box? There are actually two separate devices and neither of them are black. (It’d be a lot harder to find that way.) The Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) is used to record conversation in the cockpit. It doesn’t record for very long and so there isn’t a ton of history on there; it just keeps recording over itself so the most recent data is available. Then there’s the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) which takes a bunch of different data points about what the airplane is doing and stores them. Newer versions collect more data points with better info, but these also don’t record for very long.

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  • Cranky Flier

    My name is Brett, and I’m an airline dork. I’ve had the bug since I was young. As a kid, I never missed a chance to go to LAX a…

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