Floating black boxes in the spotlight as tail of Air Asia jet #QZ8501 found underwater – an annotated infographic

Search teams looking for underwater wreckage from AirAsia flight QZ8501 last week located the tail of the aircraft where the black box flight recorders are housed.

This is a crucial development in ascertaining what happened in the final moments of the plane before the crash. Without the black boxes, the job of air investigators is made considerably more difficult.

When a plane crashes in to the sea – such as with flight QZ8501 and also as is presumed to have been the case in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in March 2014 – the advantages of black box recorders that float would seem obvious. However, this is not the current technology used by airlines.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has been considering for years whether or not to outfit commercial airliners with detachable black boxes that float in water rather than sink. Now with high-profile oceanic plane crashes such as those suffered by AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines, with their devastating loss of life, the proposal is back on the agenda at the ICAO High-Level Safety Conference in February to ensure that accident sites are found quickly.

E&T reported on the renewed focus on floating air crash black boxes recently.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

AirAsia QZ8501

AirAsia QZ8501

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