► Officially it’s not called a black box. The proper name of what we know as the ‘black box’ is Flight Data Recorder (FDR).And that is exactly what is does; it records flight data such as engine exhaust, temperature, fuel flow, aircraft velocity, altitude and rate of descent electronically in order to facilitate investigations after an accident. And to be honest, calling it a recorder is more realistic than calling it a box. Historically it used to be a box but nowadays it is a cylinder!
► It’s often not one but two boxes. Next to the Flight Data Recorder, there is also a Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR). The Cockpit Voice Recorder is a flight recorder used to record the audio environment in the cockpit. This way, for example communications with air traffic control are available for investigations after an accident. Sometimes, the two cylinders (FDR and CVR) are combined, making it one box after all. The CVR records up to two hours, overwriting the previous moments.
► It’s not black but bright orange in colour. The black box is made of fire resistant material which is bright orange. It is not 100% clear why it is called ‘black box’ and not ‘orange box’, but there are some theories. It may be because it is often charred black after a crash, it may be because the very first boxes were painted black to prevent reflection or because ‘black box’ is a general name in science for devices with in- and output of data with complex internal workings.
► It’s not placed in the cockpit. Whereas the data and voices are recorded from the cockpit, the recorders are not placed inside the cockpit. Usually they are placed in the tail-end of the aircraft, where the structure of the aircraft protects them best in case of a crash.