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June 11th, 2009
05:39 PM ET

'Black box' could hold answer to plane crash mystery

The Pinger Locator System, donated by the U.S. Navy, is being used to find the black box from Air France Flight 447.

The Pinger Locator System, donated by the U.S. Navy, is being used to find the black box from Air France Flight 447.

Doug Gross
CNN

The "black box" is actually an orange cylinder - about 13 pounds of metal wrapped around a stack of memory chips and designed to withstand the force of being slammed high-speed into a brick wall.

One such device - possibly sitting more than two miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean - is the object of a massive international search and could hold the answer to why Air France Flight 447 mysteriously plunged into the sea off the coast of Brazil last week with 228 people on board.

"These record many, many parameters of the flight - the aircraft, its altitude, even the amount of force that one of the pilots might put on a pedal," John Perry Fish, an underwater recovery expert, told CNN. "It's very important to find these in order to find out what happened to the flight."

In the wake of nearly every air disaster, search and rescue efforts immediately segue into quests for the boxes, which have been in wide use on commercial flights since shortly after World War II.

Actually a pair of devices - the flight data recorder and a voice and audio recorder - the equipment records virtually everything about how an airplane is working.

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Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. ronvan

    Joe, you are spot on. Probably already exsists, but would not surprise me that $$$ is involved.

    June 12, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  2. keoki

    Did you ever think that it would be extremely unrealistic to expect the black box to somehow free itself from the plane and allow itself to float to the surface in a wreckage?! Come on man, think a little. Its not like the black box is sitting on the top of the plane waiting to release itself.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:49 am |
  3. Isabel, Brazil

    Many doubts and unanswered questions. The pain and anguish of the families is great. These responses were essential because there is still some relatives that has hope of review their loved.

    June 11, 2009 at 8:13 pm |
  4. Joe Repuyan

    With high tech technology, why is it still difficult to locate these devices? Why not invent something to make the black box float or give of coordinates of it's location. I still can not understand why this has not been thought of.

    June 11, 2009 at 6:55 pm |
  5. Roxanne Taylor

    I hope they find the black box so the families can find out whta really happened and find some closure

    June 11, 2009 at 6:13 pm |