Ask the Captain: Why aren’t black boxes made to be more indestructible?

I watch air disasters on Smithsonian channel religiously and am always wondering why black boxes are not made more indestructible?

– John Benn, Pennsylvania

The Digital Flight Data and Cockpit Voice Recorders are extremely force-resistant. The technology to make them more crash worthy has come a very long way over the years.

The January crash of a 737-500 in Indonesia proves this. The aircraft hit the water very very hard but the DFDR was able to be downloaded with 27 hours of data intact. After Air France Flight 447 crashed in June 2009, its recorders spent over two years on the ocean floor thousand of feet underwater, yet the data was recovered intact. 

These recorders do have limits, and the manufacturers continue to make them better, however, they serve our industry very well. 

Ask the Captain:  Why haven’t black boxes been replaced by streaming technology?

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