FYI: Black Boxes Aren’t Black

Why are flight data recorders referred to as "black boxes," even though the boxes are not actually black?

Question from:

_John O’Brien

Sterling, Va._

When plans for the first cockpit voice recorder were unveiled in 1954, all aircraft electronics were housed in black rectangular boxes of standard size and shape. The recorders were simply installed in tougher versions of those boxes. In 1957, the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Administration, which later became the FAA, mandated that all planes heavier than 20,000 pounds carry these protected flight recorders. Eight years later, the agency decided it would be useful to paint the “black boxes” bright red or orange so they would be more easily spotted in wreckage. In 1965, almost every airline in the world switched to orange recorder boxes, but by then the term “black box” had taken hold.