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Why The Black Boxes Are Crucial In MH17 ’s Investigation?

When the Ukraine rebels handed over the two black boxes attached on Boeing 777 flight MH17 to Malaysian delegates four days after the crash, many believed the reason behind the crash will soon be revealed.

Malaysian delegates then handed over the two black boxes to the representatives from the Dutch Safety Board in Kiev on the same evening. The black boxes were then sent to the Air Accident Investigation Branch laboratory located in Farnborough, England.

Ukrainian rebel hands over MH17's black boxes.  Image credit: Yahoo News
Ukrainian rebel hands over MH17’s black boxes. (Image credit: Yahoo News)

The leader of MH17’s investigation, Dutch Safety Board said the initial findings of the two black boxes are expected to be released on 1 August.

Malaysia Airline Boeing 777, Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in Eastern Ukraine, over the rebel-held area on July 17, all 298 people on board died. It is believed that the plane was shot down by a BUK missile, a Russian SA-11 missile system.

Also read: MH17 Victims Targeted in Facebook and Credit Card Scams!

By now, the term “black box” is probably known by everyone, but not many are actually aware of its functions and the importance of vital evidence held in those black boxes.

Ukraine separatist found one of MH17's black boxes. Image credit: The Telegraph
Ukraine separatist found one of MH17’s black boxes. (Image credit: The Telegraph)

What Is It?

First of all, the flight’s black boxes are actually orange in colour and not black. Reason being, the bright orange colour could be spotted more easily among the plane’s wreckages if it crashes, like flight MH17.

A black box is actually a recorder that is placed in a plane, in which the data often becomes the crucial information necessary if a plane crash. Every plane is attached along with two black boxes – the Flight Data Recorder (FDR), which records all the operation functions; and the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), which records all the conversations in the cockpit. They are placed in the tail of a plane.

The black boxes are also equipped with a locator beacon that sends out “pings” when in contact with water. The batteries of the locator beacon are said to be able to last for 30 days.

The two black boxes are located at the plane's tail. Image credit: AFP
The two black boxes are located at the plane’s tail. (Image credit: AFP)

Flight Data Recorder

According to an article posted by National Geographic, the FDR is able to record the plane’s operating functions such as the plane’s altitude, airspeed, time, as well as the direction. This information is crucial for investigators to find out what actually cause MH17 to crash. Using the information stored in the FDR, the investigation team is able to create a computer video showing how MH17 was operated before it crashed.

Cockpit Voice Recorder

This black box is important in determining the timeline of events because it contains communication recordings between the pilots and control centres as well as other aircrafts nearby. Beside the pilots’ communications, the investigators will also able to pick up noises such as engine’s sound from the cockpit.

MH17's voice recorder. Image credit: Reuters
MH17’s voice recorder. (Image credit: Reuters)

The Future of Black Boxes

After Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 flight 370 went missing on March 8, experts have been suggesting to prolong the underwater locator beacons’ batteries from the current 30 day to 90. The failure to locate flight MH370 until today also prompted the experts to suggest replacing in-flight recorders with a ‘live streaming’ system.

Hopefully, with current technological advances, much can be done to improve the functions and ability of black boxes so as to help with any future flight-related accidents and tragedies.

Also read: International Online Condolence Book Opened for Victims of #MH17

 

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