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Aircraft ‘black box’ inventor dies
Published on 22 Jul. 2010 12:00 AM IST
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The Australian inventor of the “black box” flight data recorder, a crucial component of plane crash investigations, has died aged 85, officials said Wednesday.
David Warren came up with the idea after probing the crash of the world’s first commercial jet, the Comet, in 1953. He died on Monday, Australia’s defence department said. “Dr. Warren’s flight data recorder has made an invaluable contribution to safety in world aviation,” the department said in a statement.
Warren was an aeronautical researcher based in Melbourne when he worked on the mysterious Comet disaster, and realised that a cockpit recording of voices and data would have helped the investigation.
After an initial lack of interest from authorities, he built the prototype “black box” in 1956. It was able to store four hours of voice recordings and instrument readings.
The idea was slow to catch on and was not made mandatory in Australian aircraft for another 10 years. However, the device’s modern equivalent is now used in passenger aircraft around the world.
Warren, who was born in 1925 in a remote part of north-eastern Australia, is survived by his wife, four children and seven grandchildren.

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