We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Flight Recorder?

By Tiffany Manley
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A flight recorder is a device placed in aircraft that records data that might be helpful in determining the circumstances surrounding a crash. Many aircraft have two devices: a cockpit voice recorder and a flight data recorder. Flight recorders often are referred to as "black boxes," even though they usually are painted bright orange.

Cockpit voice recorders are one type of flight recorder. As the name implies, cockpit voice recorders are located in the cockpit of an aircraft. They record at least 30 minutes of audio from the cockpit. This recording might include crew conversation, alarms, noise from the engine and other audible feedback.

A flight data recorder is another type of flight recorder. This type of recorder makes a record of various parameters associated with the flight in progress. Legally, the number and type of parameters that are required to be recorded vary by locality. Some items that might be recorded are altitude, airspeed and acceleration.

Both types of flight recorders are used together to provide investigators with the critical details of a crash. Many times, the flight recorder is the only item that survives a crash intact, so it is understandable that it is sought after almost immediately. Without it, key details that might unlock the mystery of the crash might be left undiscovered.

Through repeated use and advances in technology, manufacturers are learning that not only can flight recorders be used to provide details surrounding a crash, they might also be used to prevent accidents before they happen. Data recorded during flights can be analyzed and used to make better-performing aircraft. In addition, the data might be used in the training of pilots about ways to react to changing conditions during a flight.

Flight recorders also are used to monitor the health and safety of an aircraft. The data recorded by a flight recorder might be analyzed to let the aircraft manufacturer or operator know when maintenance needs to be performed, whether something is not working as it should or whether an item needs to be replaced. All of this might do much in the way of preventing future accidents.

Crashes involving deep water or that were so terrible that a flight recorder was smashed to pieces led manufacturers to develop recorders that could be self-ejected during a crash. Some even make use of sonar or radio technology to help investigators locate the recorder. This has helped make it easier to find out what happened in a variety of crashes.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.