Great Australian inventions- Black Box

Great Australian inventions- Black Box
February 20, 2020 Prime Engineering

The world would be a very different place if it wasn’t for Australian inventions. At Prime Engineering, innovation and ingenuity excite and inspire us to create solutions for your business. Scientists and engineers from around Australia are responsible for life-changing and life-saving technologies. One of the most revolutionary inventions in this space is the black box.

In 1934, the passenger plane, Miss Hobart, fell into what was assumed to be the waters of the Bass Strait that lies between Tasmania and mainland Australia. Onboard were 12 passengers, one being Reverend Hubert Warren who had left behind his wife and four children. At 8 years old, David Warren’s father’s last gift to him was a crystal radio which he treasured deeply. David Warren had a fascination with his radio and went on to share his skills from charging his friends a penny to listen to cricket matches to selling home-made copies for 5 shillings each.

This interest grew into his career and after years of studies at universities in Australia and abroad, David Warren began working with the Aeronautical Research Laboratories to uncover the hugely dangerous and costly mystery of the British de Havilland Comet. Also known as the Comet, the plane was the world’s first commercial jet airliner and had kept crashing when Warren was assigned to uncover why. Ideas were thrown around the team as to why the planes were crashing: fin breakage, lack of staff training, pilot error and so on. It wasn’t until the idea that the plane may have been hijacked was proposed that Warren thought of a possible solution.

If the plane was hijacked, a recording device in the cockpit of the plane would have provided the evidence needed to come to a sound conclusion using the voice recordings of pilots and aircraft staff immediately before the crash. There were multiple hurdles in the actualisation of the device, including the development of a suitable material that was both crash and fireproof for the device, original silencing by his superiors and push back from the pilot’s union that the use of a recording device could be likened to Big Brother and no pilot would ever want to take flight again. But Warren pushed through the years of resistance to have his idea finally accepted and further mandated in aircraft across countries all around the globe.

This recording device is known today as the black box, which is ironically not black but a firey orange. Readings from these devices have helped to uncover the causation of air crashes globally, resulting in the development of the aircraft itself and in staff training to prevent the occurrence of similar incidences in the future.

Stories of perseverance and innovation like David Warren’s are an inspiration to us at Prime Engineering. With the objective to help you with any of your mechanical engineering and technical issues, this calibre of innovation and drive is what we strive to achieve. If you are looking to take your mechanical engineering resources to the next level, our experienced team can help you with custom designs and services to suit your needs. Contact us today!