Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Official blog of the Lehigh University Chemical Engineers

Black Box & the Missing Malaysian Jet

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Air France FDR 2With the investigation of the missing Malaysia Airline jet underway, the search team consists of 40 ships and 22 aircrafts from many different countries are searching for the vanished jet in the deep South Asia water. The search team is looking for debris over the sea as well as the most important component, the black box.

The black box composed of two separate pieces of equipment, the Cockpit Voice Recorder and the Flight Data Recorder. Any commercial airplane is required to be equipped with these two equipment. Although they don’t do anything while the plane is flying safely in air, they are vitally important if anything disastrous happens to the plane. The black box help the crash investigators to find out what really happened during the course of the flight as well as the moment before the crash. In order to make the search team’s job easier in retrieving the black box, each recorder has a device attached to it known as an Underwater Locator Beacon. The device activates itself as soon as the the recorder comes into contact with the water, and it can transmit from a depth as deep as 14,000 feet. In addition, a black box is not black as the name might suggest, it is actually bright orange like the one in the picture.

Let’s quickly break down what each recorder does. The Cockpit Voice Recorder’s job is to record what the crew say and monitor an sounds that occur within the cockpit. A skilled the investigator is able to pick up sounds such as engine noise, stall warnings, emergency pings and pops. It is important in determining the timeline of events because it records communication and interaction among crews, pilots and ground controls. The Flight Data Recorder is responsible for tracking the plane’s statuses and parameters such as altitude, speed, direction, fuel gauge and etc. Essentially any detail relating to the plane is recorded by it, and therefore, it’s an invaluable piece of information to the investigation team.

Although the search team have located oil slicks spreading 12 miles off of the Gulf of Thailand, the investigators have not yet found the black box or any meaningful objects relating to the Malaysia Airline jet crash, as of the time of this post.


Author: Jerry Jin

Hello, My name is Jerry Jin. I'm a senior at Lehigh University pursuing a degree in Chemical Engineering. I'm from Allentown, PA, but I was born in Shanghai, China. I moved here when I was fourteen years old. I'm currently the secretary for Southeast Asia at Lehigh Club, and treasurer for SASE. I'm also on the Lehigh Ultimate Frisbee Team and I enjoy being spontaneous.

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