I have read somewhere that the Data in Air Craft Black Boxes are encrypted using various algorithm and only the manufacturers could gain access to the actual data of the BlackBoxe, Why the data in Aircraft's Black Box is Encrypted anyway ?

Here is the source where i read that: http://www.astm.org/SNEWS/OCTOBER_2001/bbox_oct01.html

For example, after any aircraft crash incident the airline company has to send the Black Box to the original manufacturers of it so that the data could be revived, and It takes month to recover the data.

I am saying that , What is the need to encrypt data at first place ?

  • 1
    "I have read somewhere". Does this source contain more information on the background?
    – user27126
    Mar 16, 2014 at 12:55
  • @LutzHorn astm.org/SNEWS/OCTOBER_2001/bbox_oct01.html Mar 16, 2014 at 12:59
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    This article does not contain the words "encryption", "encrypt", or "algorithm".
    – user27126
    Mar 16, 2014 at 13:01
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    @SufiyanGhori Obviously the data is encoded in some way, unless the box has a little aeroplane inside that copies the movements of the real aeroplane.
    – user253751
    Mar 20, 2014 at 12:08
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    This question is based on a misapprehension. A comprehensive question and answers is here on aviation stack exchange: aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/7794/…
    – Rory Alsop
    Jul 22, 2014 at 20:50

1 Answer 1


First thing: encoding is not the same as encrypting.

Not all flight recorders are encrypted, it is however a feature requested by some users, e.g. Ministries of Defence.

Keep in mind that flight recorders are not solely for crash investigations and can be read out and analyzed at any time. As flight recorders include conversations on communication channels it can be useful to encrypt this data.

  • I do get that, but how could the information stored in Black boxes could be sensitive that it required to encrypt them ? all they have in there is different readings and the conversations. ? How could it be harmful if stolen ? Mar 16, 2014 at 13:40
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    In the link i mentioned the Ministery of Defense requested encryption, and I can imagine that flight plans and conversations on a plane from Defense are confidential :) Mar 16, 2014 at 15:10
  • @SufiyanGhori you can see from today's news that it can be quite important to encrypt information. Malaysian plane from Amsterdam that crashed recently was at terrorists' territory and they've been holding black boxes for 4 days. Obviously they're interests are to hide that it were them shooting at the plane. They could (potentially) remove some data, change some geolocation data etc. Jul 22, 2014 at 8:39

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