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Question by Caretaker: What is the origin of the term “Black Box” in aviation.?
Black Box is common but what was the distinction between equipment performing the same function and the “Black Box”. I’ve got an idea but I would appreciate input because I would like to know.

Best answer:

Answer by Techwing
Black box is a generic term for anything that provides documented output and accepts documented input but the internal functioning of which is undocumented or unknown. It is also used at times to designate a device the internal functioning of which is simply unimportant or unnecessary to understand. It’s not strictly an aviation term.

The term has been borrowed to refer to flight data recorders of various types, even though these devices are typically actually painted a bright orange or other highly visible color in order to make them easier to spot in wreckage.

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Comments

    • casper
    • August 17, 2013

    i’ve been taught more or less the same thing Techwing cites.

    that a >black box< was a generic engineering term for an essentially electronic device with input and output whose function can be swept under the rug with "pure magic" on it. joking. the box function is not necessary to explain down to a every single transistor /circuit bug and it's enough to say that inputs of gyrovertical and pitotstatic system sensors fed into the blackbox create autopilot commands at the output. in my opinion, "black box" used for fdr/cvr is about as amateur layman term as witnesses ALWAYS stating that the aircraft did some strange maneuvers and ROLLS prior the crash. you simply don't assume that the pilot has been doing low level aerobatics based on that.

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