Airplanes

Why don't black boxes have GPS?

In 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappeared without a trace, and the aircraft was never found. Should large passenger aircraft not have a GPS transmitter?

The classic black box emits an acoustic signal that, unlike GPS, also works under water.

© GETTY IMAGES

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 over the Indian Ocean in 2014 has raised questions about the black box, as the orange flight recorder of an aircraft is popularly called.

To be able to locate a flight recorder in the sea, it has an acoustic transmitter that is activated when in contact with water and that emits an audible signal every second for 30 days, until the battery is empty.

The acoustic transmitter was chosen because radio signals and GPS are blocked under water.

With the MH370 they would therefore have been useless Aircraft manufacturer Airbus is working on a new type of black box, which is shot out of the aircraft in the event of an accident and can float on the water.

The aircraft will also still contain a Cockpit Voice and Data Recorder, which among other things records the conversations of the pilots.

For example, when an aircraft has crashed, two copies of its communication can be searched for.

New box can float

From 2019, Airbus aircraft will have a new type of black box that disconnects and floats in the event of an accident.

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