In 1953, David Warren was working as a researcher for the
Aeronautical Research Labs, a part of Australia’s Defense
Department, that was focused on airplanes.
The 1950s were the early years of commercial airlines, and they were fraught with accidents and plane crashes. The experts who investigated these incidents found it difficult to identify the exact cause of these accidents.
After all, the investigation team had no information except dead bodies and debris
to work with. Even if there was an eyewitness, it was difficult to
understand what happened.
David was made part of the expert team formed to solve this problem.
He came up with an idea: what if there was a way to put a recorder in the cockpit of the plane that could store pilot voices and instrument readings of the flight?
This would be of immense value to the investigators trying to understand the actual reason for the crash.
Once they know what was going wrong, they can make necessary changes and save millions of lives.
Of course, that box need to be strong enough to survive a crash. After making some prototypes and refining
them, the world got its first “Flight Data Recorder” or what was later called the *“Blackbox”.*
From the 1960s onwards, the Blackbox became an essential device for every flight.
It is actually orange in color and is made of material which
is almost indestructible. It has two recorders: one records the voices in the cockpit and the other records the data from the flights electronic systems.
If there is an accident, the box is opened, and data is analyzed and investigated.
Using the Blackbox helped the industry learn from
failures and mistakes and put procedures in place to never repeat them.
Blackbox has led to a phenomenal improvement in the airline industry.
In 2019, the number of fatal accidents in aircrafts was down
to 0.18 per million flights or one fatal accident per 5.58 million flights.
Much safer than driving on the road!
Matthew Syed, in his book *“Blackbox Thinking”*, has brilliantly explained the importance of feedback and learning from mistakes.
He says “Blackbox thinking is about the willingness and tenacity to investigate the lessons that often exist when we fail, but which we
Learn from failures, the mistakes of others & stay blessed forever.