A black box flight recorder is actually not black, nor is it a box. It is orange and looks more like a small generator. The device contains two main components: a flight data recorder (FDR) and a cockpit voice recorder (CVR). These two recorders provide investigators with both logistics – airspeed, altitude, rudder position, etc. and flight cabin conversations. The black box is typically situated in the tail section of the aircraft, a location with a high likelihood of surviving a crash. In the event of an accident, the device's bright orange colouring helps make it easier to locate.
The flight safety industry prefers the term “flight recorder” over “black box” – a phrase made popular by the media. There are several explanations for the term black box. More than likely it comes from the black metal box that covered the device when it was first used in RAF bombers during WWII. The box was painted matte black to prevent it from giving off any reflections. The phrase “black box” is now a broadly used term for mechanisms that have an air of mystery.