In the immediate aftermath of an airplane crash, one of the first things investigators hunt down is the black box.
The black boxes (which are actually orange) contain the airplane’s flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder which, when combined, allow investigators to piece together information about a plane crash.
But these vital recorders of information can, in a particularly gruesome crash, go missing. And so aircraft manufacturer Airbus has announced that it will install a second set of black boxes in the rear of some aircraft that will automatically eject itself if the plane crashes into water.
The redundant black box set will eject itself from the aircraft’s tail wing “automatically if submerged in two meters of water or if the plane's sensors detect serious structural deformation,” Charles Champion, Airbus’s executive vice president of engineering, said at a press conference last month.
Once ejected, the black boxes will float in water and send out a beacon to alert emergency services of its location. The emergency signal can last for up to 90 days, as compared to the 30-day standard for current Underwater Locator Beacons.
The new black boxes are also capable of recording up to 25 hours of data — a significant increase from the current generation’s two hour capacity. The increased allotment could allow investigators a better, more comprehensive picture of airplane conditions, even before the crashed flight’s takeoff, according to Wired.
The new recorders will appear on Airbus aircraft in 2019, starting with the A350 and extending to other models from there.