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September 26, 2001

About those Black Boxes: Something's Up...
by Sam Youssef



The Black Box and the Indestructible Passport: All four Black Boxes were supposedly destroyed and rendered unusable in spite of the fact that they are designed specifically for plane crashes which result in insurmountable conditions...yet one of the hijackers' passports supposedly survived fire and heat of over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and is found in perfect shape in the rubble around the WTC towers.

How indestructible are the so-called "Black Boxes"? Each airplane is equipped with a Flight Data Recorder and a Cockpit Voice Recorded. The term "Black Box" is used for these pieces of equipment. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) web site gives valuable information regarding these devices.

Regarding the Cockpit Voice Recorder it says:

"The CVR records the flight crew's voices, as well as other sounds inside the cockpit. The recorder's "cockpit area microphone" is usually located on the overhead instrument panel between the two pilots. Sounds of interest to an investigator could be engine noise, stall warnings, landing gear extension and retraction, and other clicks and pops. From these sounds, parameters such as engine rpm, system failures, speed, and the time at which certain events occur can often be determined. Communications with Air Traffic Control, automated radio weather briefings, and conversation between the pilots and ground or cabin crew are also recorded." [NTSB web site]

Regarding the Flight Data Recorder it says:

"The FDR onboard the aircraft records many different operating conditions of the flight. By regulation, newly manufactured aircraft must monitor at least twenty eight important parameters such as time, altitude, airspeed, heading, and aircraft attitude. In addition, some FDRs can record the status of more than 300 other in-flight characteristics that can aid in the investigation. The items monitored can be anything from flap position to auto-pilot mode or even smoke alarms." [NTSB web site]

Thus as we see each plane is equipped with two separate "Black Box" devices which relay different yet complimentary information. It goes on to say:

"Both the Flight Data Recorder and the Cockpit Voice Recorder have proven to be valuable tools in the accident investigation process. They can provide information THAT MAY BE DIFFICULT TO OBTAIN BY OTHER MEANS." [NTSB web site]

They are meant to be the hardy and sure way to get information regarding the last minutes before the plane went down.


Here are the specifications of these devices including what they can withstand:


Time recorded: 25 hour continuous
Number of parameters: 5 - 300+
Impact tolerance: 3400Gs /6.5ms
Fire resistance: 1100 degC/30 min
Water pressure resistance: submerged 20,000 ft
Underwater locator beacon: 37.5 KHz
Battery: 6yr shelf life 30 day operation


Time recorded: 30 min continuous, 2 hours for solid state digital units
Number of channels: 4
Impact tolerance: 3400 Gs /6.5ms
Fire resistance: 1100 deg C /30 min
Water pressure resistance: submerged 20,000 ft
Underwater locator beacon: 37.5 KHz
Battery: 6yr shelf life 30 day operation

These specifications indicate equipment which can survive just about any conditions and any crash. Indeed, Black Boxes have been recovered from crashes in swamps, mountains, and oceans.

ABC News reports:

"Although investigators look for an entire black box, sometimes the only parts of the device that survive are the recorder's crash-survivable memory units (CSMU). THE CSMU IS ALMOST INDESTRUCTIBLE. It is housed within a stainless-steel shell that contains titanium or aluminum and a high-temperature insulation of dry silica material."

"It is designed to withstand HEAT OF UP TO 2,000 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT FOR ONE HOUR, salt water for at least 30 days, immersion in a variety of liquids such as jet fuel and lubricants, AND AN IMPACT OF 3,400 G's. By comparison, astronauts are typically exposed to up to six Gs during a shuttle takeoff." [ABCNews]

So the Black Box is designed to withstand an impact of 3,400 G's. So what about the Pennsylvania crash site?

"THE VOICE RECORDER WAS SAID TO BE HEAVILY DAMAGED, and the manufacturer was being asked to help with further analysis. The plane that crashed in Pennsylvania was reported to have hit the ground in excess of 500 MILES PER HOUR." [ABCN news]

The plane hit the ground at 500 mph. Taking the weight of the plane, its speed of descent, the G's end up much, much lower than 3,400.

Since each plane has two separate Black Boxes which are designed to be indestructible in the event of a tragedy, that makes a total of EIGHT BLACK BOXES. We are to believe that all the Black Boxes were damaged beyond use, while a measly paper passport survived.

Then the final paragraph of the same article says: "Investigators are less confident they will recover the black boxes buried underneath the rubble of the World Trade Center." So there is no hope of recovering the virtually indestructible Black Box from the rubble, but a paper passport survives in such a perfect state that it is "a significant piece of evidence"?

CNN reports one of the hijackers' passports was found in the rubble of the World Trade Center vicinity:

"The searchers found several clues, he said, but would not elaborate. Last week, a passport belonging to one of the hijackers was found in the vicinity of Vesey Street, near the World Trade Center. 'It was a significant piece of evidence for us,' Mawn said." [ CNN]

Also CNN reports:

"In New York, several blocks from the ruins of the World Trade Center, a passport authorities said belonged to one of the hijackers was discovered a few days ago, according to city Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik." [CNN ]

Aside from the idiocy of any suggestion that a passport would survive a plane crash that is allegedly so severe it destroys the virtually indestructible Black Box, we are also led to believe that the passport "flew away", out of the hijackers' pocket, down a few blocks from the WTC grounds. Why a few blocks away? Could it be because it was a place out of everyone's sight?

It is also well known that paper was strewn all over the scene of the plane crash. This was due to the sudden shattering of the windows which would immediately eject all paper materials out of the building before incineration. A passport in someone's pocket who is sitting on a plane that explodes will suffer the same fate as the person whose pocket it is in, and the plane they are sitting in: absolute cremation.

United Airlines flight 93 crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. There was no explosion and no impact into a building and no 100+ story towers crashed down on top of it. Yet, we are led to believe that both of its Black Boxes were destroyed and/or damaged beyond use as well.

Other airline tragedies also reveal that in each and every case the Black Box is recovered, albeit damaged, but with full usability. Such crashes include EgyptAir flight 990, a 767, and TWA flight 800, a 747. Both crashes resulted in tremendous compromise of the planes physical integrity, but in spite of this the Cockpit Voice Recorders were recovered.

So we have established that the survival of a passport of someone in an exploded plane is lunacy. However, for the sake of argument lets say the passport survived. If the passport did indeed survive then so did the Black Box. If the Black Box did indeed survive as we have proven beyond a shred of doubt, then why the complete and utter lie that it was damaged beyond use? What are they hiding?


A reader points out (Tuesday, October 2, 2001): "Mr. Youseff's article is quite faulty. First the weight of anything has nothing to do with G force, Galileo you know. Further is you assume that the 500 mph is correct, and you assume that the plane's cockpit stopped within 5 feet then the G force would have been approximately 3370 G's."

Related items on this website:

  David Irving: A Radical's Diary
  Five Israelis detained for "puzzling behavior" after WTC tragedy
  Washington Post: "Instant Messages To Israel Warned Of WTC Attack"
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