Evolution of Flight Data Recorders


  • Michal Dub Faculty of Military Technology, University of Defence in Brno, Czech Republic
  • Jiří Pařízek Faculty of Military Technology, University of Defence in Brno, Czech Republic




aviation safety, flight data recorders, ICAO


A flight recorder, commonly known as a black box, is considered the most important witness in the investigation of air accidents. Flight recorders have been considered important parts of onboard equipment for both military and civilian aircraft all over the world already from 1950s. They are used not only for flight evaluation after an unexpected event, but also for a pilot training, pilot skills assessment, diagnostics of on ‐ board systems, and evaluation of aircraft systems as a whole. Thus, these flight recorders contribute to high aircraft reliability and aviation operation safety. This article focuses on Automatic Deployable Flight Recorders (ADFR), currently not often used in the military or civilian aircraft. ADFRs are mainly used for aircraft that fly over vast water areas as classic concept recorders were hard to find when the aircraft crashed into water. This deployable recorder is a reliable flight safety system used e.g. in US Navy F/A ‐ 18 multirole combat jets. In addition, creation of this article was inspired by the change in ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices for Operation of Aircraft, implemented in July 2016 in the tenth edition of ICAO Annex 6.


Annex 6 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation. Part I – International Commercial Air Transport – Airplanes. Tenth edition. Montreal: ICAO, 2016.

US Patent 2959459 Flight Recorder [on‐line]. Patented November 8, 1960. [cit. 2017-09-25]. Available from <http://pdfpiw.uspto.gov/.piw?PageNum=0&docid=02959459>.

WARREN, D. A Device for Assisting Investigation into Aircraft Accidents. Melbourne: Aeronautical Research Laboratories, 1954. Mechanical Engineering Technical Memorandum 142.

SEAR, J. The ARL ‘Black Box’ Flight Recorder – Invention and Memory. Melbourne: University of Melbourne, 2001, 37 p. Thesis Ref. 14567 for Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Department of History, Faculty of Arts.

SIEGEL, G. Technologies of Accident: Forensic Media, Crash Analysis, and the Redefinition of Progress. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2005. 245 p.

ROSENBAUER, J.E. Modern Aircraft Accident Investigation Equipment and Techniques [on‐line]. Lockheed Horizons. Winter 981-1982, p. 20-27 [cit. 2017-09-24]. Available from <https://macmanx.com/modern-aircraft-accidentinvestigation-equipment-and-techniques/>.

TSO: Technical Standard Orders© [on‐line]. 2017 [cit. 2017-10-15]. FAA. Available from <http://rgl.faa.gov/>.

Eurocae© [on‐line]. 2017 [cit. 2017-09-25]. Available from <https://www.eurocae.net>.

US Patent 4951263 Spread Spectrum Underwater Location Beacon System [on‐line]. Patented August 21, 1990. [cit. 2017-08-29]. Available from <http://pdfpiw.uspto.gov/.piw?PageNum=0&docid=04951263>.

US Patent 3140847 Ejectable Flight Recorder [on‐line]. Patented July 14, 1964. [cit. 2017-08-29]. Available from <http://pdfpiw.uspto.gov/.piw?PageNum=0&docid=03140847>.

US Patent 2959671 Crash Position Indicator For Aircraft [on‐line]. [cit. 2017-08-29]. Available from <http://pdfpiw.uspto.gov.piw?PageNum=0&docid=02959671>. Patented November 8, 1960.

LEVESQUE, D. (Ed.) The History and Experience of the International Cospas-Sarsat Programme for Search and Rescue. Paris: International Astronautical Federation, 2016 [cit. 2017-09-20]. Available from <http://www.iafastro.org/wpcontent/uploads/2017/01/Cospas-Sarsat-Report-1.pdf>.

AUSTIN, R.P. The Use Of Deployable Flight Recorders in Dual Combi Recorder Installations [on‐line]. 1999 [cit. 2017-09-25]. Available from <http://www.iasa.com.au/folders/Publications/pdf_library/austin.pdf>.

DRS Technologies Awarded $2 Million Contract to Provide Emergency Avionics Systems for Canadian CP-140 Aircraft. Business Wire. 1998, December 3 [cit. 2017-08-25]. Available from <https://www.thefreelibrary.com/DRS+Technologies+Awarded+%242+Million+Contract+to+Provide+Emergency...-a053344501>.

DRS Technologies Awarded Contract to Produce Deployable Flight Recorders for U.S. Navy Super Hornets. Business Wire. 2004, August 24 [cit. 2017-07-02].

Available from <https://www.thefreelibrary.com/DRS+Technologies+Awarded+Contract+to+Produce+Deployable+Flight...-a064817942>.

US Patent 8706357 Flight Recorder Deployment System and Method [on‐line]. Patented April 22, 2014. [cit. 2017-08-29]. Available from <http://pdfpiw.uspto.gov/.piw?PageNum=0&docid=08706357>.

US Patent 9296489 Flight Recorder Deployment Mechanism [on‐line]. Patented March 29, 2016. [cit. 2017-08-29]. Available from <http://pdfpiw.uspto.gov/.piw?PageNum=0&docid=09296489>.

ROSENBACH, von A. and SASIDHARAN, A. Jane’s Flight Avionics 2016-2017. HIS Jane’s, 2015. ISBN 978-0-7106-3210-4.

TEGLER. J. DFIRS Makes a 4,000 Mile Journey to Recovery [on‐line]. 14 June 2011 [cit. 2017-08-29]. Defense Media Network. Available from <http://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/dfirs-makes-4000-mile-journeyrecovery/>.

Surfer Finds 21st Century ‘Message in a Bottle’ on Hawaii Beach [on‐line]. 18 March 2011 [cit. 2017-08-29]. Navair News. Available from <http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=4530>.

WALTON, J. Airbus To Introduce Deployable Black Boxes [on‐line]. 27 June 2017 [cit. 2017-09-25]. Available from <http://rotate.aero/blog/entry/airbus-tointroduce-deployable-black-boxes>.

KAVI, K.M. Beyond the Black Box. IEEE Spectrum, 2010, vol. 47, no. 8, p. 46-51. https://doi.org/10.1109/MSPEC.2010.5520630.




How to Cite

Dub, M., & Pařízek, J. (2018). Evolution of Flight Data Recorders. Advances in Military Technology, 13(1), 95–106. https://doi.org/10.3849/aimt.01226



Technical Information