France's BEA Airline Safety Agency reported yesterday morning that they had received the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) commonly referred to as the black boxes from the ill-fated Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 that crashed east of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, killing all 157 people on board.
Ethiopian authorities chose to send the black boxes to France for analysis of the content of the FDR and CVR to discover what brought down Flight 302 just minutes after take-off on Sunday. Pursuant to International Aviation rules, the country where the accident occurs has the right to decide where the black boxes are analysed. Ethiopia's choice of BEA in France could have been precipitated on by BEA's reputation and expertise in the field of air accident investigations and that part of the engines of the Boeing 737 Max 8 are manufactured by a French-American conglomerate.
BEA also released a picture of Flight 302's FDR which appeared to show the crash-proof housing protecting the critical recording chip intact. Black boxes are by their design tailored made to withstand huge force impacts to protect the data chips inside. In the event that the casing is crushed, they are carefully pried open using a soldering iron. Each black box holds 25 hours of flight information but in cases of air accidents, the last flight is more crucial. This is not to say that previous flights may not be looked at. The choice of whether or not to go over previous flights depends on the investigators. It is important to note that recording varies between airlines, operators, and aircraft models. It is not a one-size-fits-all cap.
Photo credit: BEA /The BEA tweeted a picture of the black box from Flight 302