How deep can black boxes go under water and how much pressure can they withstand while under water before they get crushed?

I'm a layman in terms of aviation, so if it's not too much to ask, can you answer as easily understandable as you can?


1 Answer 1


How deep can black boxes go under water?

They are required to be able to withstand a depth of 20,000 feet (3.8 miles, 6.1 km) for 30 days.

& how much pressure can they withstand?

At 20,000 feet deep the pressure is 8900 pounds per square inch (psi) which is 606 times atmospheric pressure at sea level (nearly 4½ tons on each square inch of surface)

enter image description here
A flight data recorder from AF447, around 13,000 feet deep for almost 2 years. Still readable


The DFDR must be watertight to a depth of 20,000 feet in sea water, and survive at this depth for 30 days

The units also have to withstand a static crushing force at all of its six axis points of an applied load force of 5,000lbs for 5 minutes on each axis.

See: What happens to the transponder, FDR and CVR in case of an explosion?

The southern corridor of the Indian Ocean, where officials now believe the plane went down, ranges in depth from 3,770 feet to 23,000 feet. At its greatest depth, that’s almost equal to the height of Mount Everest (which measures 29,029 feet tall).

See: Indian Ocean depth proves great challenge for MH370 search crews

enter image description here

For every 33 feet (10.06 meters) you go down, the pressure increases by 14.5 psi (1 bar).

See also

  • $\begingroup$ "8900 pounds per square inch" Or approximately 626 kg/cm^2 (which doesn't mix metric and imperial units), if my conversion is accurate. Like having the full weight of a car pressing down on a surface of area 2-3 cm^2. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Jun 5, 2014 at 14:21

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