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Black box recorders a useful source of evidence in commercial airline accidents

Building a solid aviation accident case, like any accident case, is dependent on the available evidence regarding the crash. Obtaining evidence typically involves examining the wreckage, interviewing any survivors who were involved in the crash, as well as eyewitnesses to the accident and others who have knowledge of the flight.

One important tool investigators have in examining airplane accidents is the black box recorder. These are similar to the black boxes installed in motor vehicles in that they record information about the airplane’s operations leading up to the accident. The details captured by these devices can help investigators determine how an accident occurred and can help in the determination of fault. 

In some cases, though, it isn’t possible to access a black box recorder. This can happen in freak accidents where a plane goes missing or when most of the wreckage cannot be found. French aircraft manufacturer Airbus has developed what it believes will be a solution to this problem: the deployable flight data recorder. This is essentially an extra black box recorder that ejects from the plane when major structural damage occurs to the plane or when the plane is submerged in six feet of water. While the current capacity of black boxes is two hours, deployable black box recorders will be able to record as much as 25 hours of cockpit voice and other data.

As airplanes become increasingly digitized and more information is available in the event of accidents, black box recorders with greater capacity will become very useful for manufacturers and accident investigators, as well as crash victims and their survivors. For the latter, working with an experienced attorney is critical in making the best possible use of the available evidence, both outside court and at trial. 

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