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What is Black Box? Can it solve Gen Bipin Rawat’s helicopter crash mystery?

bipin rawat

A Black Box, also known as a Flight Data Recorder, is a key mechanical device that records 88 critical characteristics about a flight, comprising airspeed, altitude, cockpit communications, and barometric pressure, among several others. The abrupt and untimely death of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat, in an army helicopter crash nearby Coonoor in Tamil Nadu had already generated serious concerns about how the tragedy occurred.

According to DNA India, experts from the Indian Air Force are at the accident site gathering all essential data and evidence in order to determine the reason behind the air crash, which killed several armed forces officers, particularly Gen Rawat. The main focus of the IAF’s technical team would be to locate the Black Box (if this hadn’t been recovered).  Whenever a system crashes, the black box is retrieved on an immediate basis in order to determine what triggered the collision. This is how the procedure works.

What is a Black Box?

A Black Box would be neither black nor box-shaped, but rather a compressor-shaped device painted in orange colour. When an accident occurs, it becomes a high priority to locate the black box, which contains crucial information as to what prompted the flight/helicopter to crash. The Black Box captures about 3,000 parameters, including altitude, airspeed, fuel efficiency, audio recording, and so on.

In India, all passenger aircraft and helicopters must be equipped with black boxes, that are often coloured orange and capture flight data. Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) are the two types of black boxes (CVR). Black boxes, which were introduced in the late 1950s, are critical in understanding the crash’s know-hows. It has a recording duration of up to 25 hours for voices and flight data. According to statistics, black boxes can assist in providing inputs for 90percent on average of all crashes.

Modern-day Black Box

Unlike prior models, which utilised wire, tinfoil, or spools of magnetic tape to record, newer models employ computer chips contained inside “crash-survivable” canisters that can endure g-forces 3,400 per cent the sensation of gravity. Since the accident and the unsolved disappearance of Malaysian Airlines MH370 in 2014, there has been heated controversy as to whether black boxes should broadcast real-time data down to the earth, which would incur significant expense and personnel.

What’s inside a Black Box?

Zee News reports states that Black Box usually weighs around 4.5 kilos or 10 pounds, containing 4 major parts including:

  • Interface, also known as chassis number which is used to fix the device and facilitate functions such as playback and recording of sound.
  • The box also has an underwater indicator beacon.
  • The fingernail size digital chips are placed on the circuit board for recoding purposes, and
  • A flight data recorder (FDR) and a cockpit voice recorder (CVR) are being used to record cockpit sound and the voice of the pilot.

How is Black Box tested before putting it to use?

According to a study, before using a black box, it is rigorously tested to determine whether it can withstand a hit with a concrete barrier at 750 km/ph as well as a dynamic force of 2.25 tonnes for 5 minutes at a minimum. It offers the highest crash survivability since the recorder’s memory board is enclosed by a metallic shell strong enough to withstand a collision of 3,400 times pressure and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

How is recording sourced and processed from a Black Box?

Technicians carefully detach the covering layers and repair cables to avoid accidentally erasing anything. It is necessary to download and copy the audio or data file. At first, the data has no significance. Before it can be converted into graphics, it must be decoded from raw files. Investigators may employ “spectral analysis,” a method of studying noises that enables them to detect hoarse alerts or the first brief crack of an accident.

A separate listening room resembles a recording studio, complete with audio mixing and playback equipment linked to a screen displaying synced data. Background noise and voices are separated by four channels. Tapes are usually only heard by the chief investigator and a small group of people before they are classified. A specialist will first prepare the recording to verify that it is in good condition.

How much time is required to get results after the black box is retrieved?

According to Economics Times, researchers favor a gradual approach, although press and public pressure can be tremendous. Some investigators admit that type of damage to the boxes and the sort of event, one can obtain a very basic understanding in days or even hours. However, they emphasize that it isn’t always the case and is seldom the entire story. Interim findings are sometimes limited and issued more than a month after the black box is found. More in-depth inquiries might take a year or more to complete.

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