This 'black box' flight recorder was designed to continuously record data from aircraft instruments, and to survive a crash. The flight recorder is an Australian innovation that has had significant impact on safety in the international aviation industry by providing valuable assistance to air crash investigators. It was invented by chemist and electronics enthusiast Dr David Warren when he was employed by the Australian Aeronautical Research Laboratories. Although no Australian manufacturer made flight recorders, David Warren was heavily involved in advising on their production overseas.
Despite its initial lack of interest in the device, the Australian government was the first in the world to make the use of flight recorders mandatory. They are now carried by all commercial planes worldwide.
This device, sectioned to demonstrate flight recorder functions, was used as an educational tool by its UK manufacturer, Davall. 'Red eggs' such as this were designed to protect the electronics and recorded information, to roll away from the site of a crash, and to be located easily. The first British-made prototypes, they were an important step in the development of flight recorders, although the standard type today is box-shaped like earlier prototypes made by Warren and colleagues in Melbourne. As far as we know, no other museum in the world has an example of the red egg, which makes this object an important and rare example.
Angelique Hutchison and Debbie Rudder, Curators
Janice Peterson Witham, 'Black box: David Warren and the creation of the cockpit voice recorder', 2005
Jeremy Sear's Honours thesis, University of Melbourne, 2001, available at http://jeremy.110mb.com/blackbox.htm#_Toc528554241