Inventor of the Airline Black Box Dies

When an airliner crashes, the first thing authorities look for are the "black boxes," the flight data and voice recorders. There are even black boxes in cars, today. And on Wednesday, the inventor of the venerable black box, David Warren, died at 85.

David Warren was a research scientist at the Aeronautical Research Laboratories in Melbourne, Australia from 1952 - 1983; ironically, his father was killed in a plane crash in 1934.

"Black Box" inventory, David Warren

In 1953, Warren was involved in the investigation of the crash of the world's first jet airline, the de Havilland Comet. Since there had been no witnesses or survivors, Warren envisioned an automatic recorder which could survive a crash and give investigators the clues needed to determine the cause of the accident.

The first flight data recorder was built by Warren in 1956. It's unclear where the name "black box" came from, as the boxes (a prototype shown with Warren, above) are coated in heat-resistant bright red paint for high visibility in aircraft wreckage.

David Warren died on Monday. He is survived by his wife Ruth, four children and seven grandchildren.
Tags:  Black Box, airline