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Black box inventor David Warren dead

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 - 18:30

Melbourne: David Warren, a pioneering
Australian scientist who invented the `black box` after
investigating the world`s first jet airliner crash in 1953,
has died.

He was 85.

Warren, who died on Monday at a Melbourne nursing home,
was involved in investigating the mystery crash in 1953 of the
world`s first commercial jet airliner, the Comet, as it was
en route to Australia.

The challenge of determining the causes of the accident
led him to the idea of a recording device that could withstand
a crash where there were no survivors and no witnesses, AAP

While working at Melbourne`s Aeronautical Research
Laboratory, he advocated voice recorders be used in the
cockpit, designing and constructing the world`s first black
box prototype - the ARL - in 1956.

Black boxes, a crucial instrument in aviation safety,
are now installed in passenger airlines and other forms of
transport around the world.

His idea sparked little interest in Australia, but
Warren worked with colleagues to produce the ARL Flight Memory
Unit, a prototype black box that recorded the pilot`s voice
and instrument readings for four hours on steel wire, in 1956.

Flight recorders have always been brightly painted to
make them easier to spot in aircraft wreckage and the term
`black box` is believed to have been originally applied in a
UK meeting to convey the sense of a magical invention or

Airliners globally are now required to carry both
cockpit and flight-data recorders and information collected
from the devices has been essential to determining the cause
of many crashes.

A Qantas A380 aircraft of the Australian airline was
named after Warren in 2008.

Warren is survived by his wife Ruth, four children and
seven grandchildren.


First Published: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 - 18:30
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