TRIVIAL PURSUITS: What Color Are ‘Black Boxes’ and Why Are They Called ‘Black Boxes’?

The formal names of the devices used to investigate what happens in an airline incident are "flight data recorder” and "cockpit voice recorder."

Most people refer to flight data recorders as “black boxes.”

“Black boxes” are, in fact, a fluorescent orange color. This is to make them more visually conspicuous in the debris after an accident.

There are several stories on the Internet about why they are called “black boxes,” but one source says the term “black box” was a World War II British phrase, originating with the development of radio, radar, and electronic navigational aids in British and Allied combat aircraft. These secret electronic devices were encased in non-reflective black boxes or housings.

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