The story behind the black box
At that stage little was known about why planes crashed. Warren, a researcher at the Aeronautical Research Laboratories in Melbourne Australia, believed if the pilot’s voices could be recorded, along with instrument readings, the information could help determine the cause of accidents – and help prevent them. The device he came up with was called a “Flight Memory Unit.”
The first prototypes were available by 1957, and although they were initially rejected, three years later Australia became the first country to require all airliners to carry a flight recorder. It’s now mandatory the world over.
Today’s black boxes are actually bright orange and are built to withstand fire, piercing and the pressure of being submerged to 20,000 feet below the ocean. They can emit a locator-beacon signal for up to 30 days. It is hoped that in the future they will be able to send real-time data to ground stations to eliminate the need to find the physical boxes in the case of an incident.
In 2002, Warren was awarded the Order of Australia (AO) for his contribution to aviation. He died in July 2010 at the age of 85.