David Warren (inventor)

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David Warren
Dave Warren with BlackBox Prototype.jpg
Warren with a prototype of a black box
Born (1925-03-20)20 March 1925
Groote Eylandt, Northern Territory, Australia
Died 19 July 2010(2010-07-19) (aged 85)
Melbourne, Australia
Nationality Australian
Alma mater University of Sydney
Known for Flight data recorder, cockpit voice recorder, "the black box"
1985 ABC news report interviewing David Warren about his invention.

Dr David Ronald de Mey Warren AO, BSc (Sydney), PhD (London), DIC, DipEd (Melbourne), FAIE (20 March 1925 – 19 July 2010) was an Australian scientist, best known for inventing and developing the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder (also known as FDR, CVR, and "the black box").[1]

Early life[edit]

David Warren was born on Groote Eylandt, an island off the coast of the Northern Territory. He was the first child of European descent born on the island.[2] He was sent to school at Launceston Grammar School in Tasmania and Trinity Grammar School in Sydney.

His father died in a 1934 Bass Strait air crash.[2]

He graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Science.[3]

Career[edit]

Summary[3]
  • 1944–46 – Teacher of mathematics and chemistry, Geelong Grammar School, Victoria.
  • 1947–48 – Lecturer in chemistry, University of Sydney.
  • 1948–51 – Scientific Officer, Woomera Rocket Range and Imperial College, London.
  • 1952–83 – Principal Research Scientist, Aeronautical Research Laboratories, Melbourne, (now part of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation).
  • 1981–82 – Scientific Adviser (Energy) to the Victorian State Parliament.

Warren worked at what is now the Defence Science and Technology Organisation's Aeronautical Research Laboratories in Melbourne from 1952 to 1983, rising to the level of Principal Research Scientist.[3][4] While there, he came up with the idea for the cockpit voice recorder while investigating a crash of the world's first commercial jet airliner, the Comet, in 1953, after seeing a miniature voice recorder at a trade show. "If a businessman had been using one of these in the plane and we could find it in the wreckage and we played it back, we'd say, 'We know what caused this.'", Warren later recalled. "Any sounds that were relevant to what was going on would be recorded and you could take them from the wreckage."[2] While devices had been previously used to record certain flight parameters, they did not include voice recording, and were not reusable, and therefore were not practical for routine commercial flights. Warren's invention, which relied on magnetic recording media, allowed easy erasing and re-recording, which made it practical for routine line service. Warren's concept of cockpit voice recording added a new dimension to instrument data in flight recorders, and has proved extremely valuable for accident investigation. Interestingly, some accidents where the CVR played a prominent role were solved not by the crew's recorded voices, but by other sounds incidentally recorded on the CVR, which provided a vital clue to the accident cause.[5]
(See also Flight recorder History.)

Committees, honours, awards and recognition[edit]

Committees
  • Chairman of the Combustion Institute (Aust & NZ Section) for 25 years (1958–83)
  • Committee member, Chemical Society
  • Committee member, the Institute of Fuel
  • Committee member, the Australian Institute of Energy
  • Morris Minor Car Club of Victoria, founding chairman and patron for 25 years (1977–2002)
Awards in recognition of his contributions to aeronautics and energy research
Recognition

In November 2008, Qantas named one of their Airbus A380s after Warren in honour of his services to aviation.[12]

Warren died 19 July 2010, at age 85, in Melbourne.[13] He was buried in a casket bearing the label "Flight Recorder Inventor; Do Not Open".[14]

In June 2012, the ACT Government named a road, David Warren Road, in the suburb of Hume.[15]

On 25 March 2014, the Defence Science and Technology Organisation renamed their Canberra headquarters to the David Warren Building.[16]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder functionalities were originally combined inside one box.
  2. ^ a b c Coopes, Amy (20 July 2010). "Aircraft 'black box' inventor dies in Australia". AFP. Google.com. Retrieved 2 August 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Dave Warren – Biography, Defence Science and Technology Organisation, www.dsto.defence.gov.au, retrieved 30 November 2012.
  4. ^ "Black box inventor dies, age 85". Telegraph. 21 July 2010. Retrieved 2 August 2010. 
  5. ^ "DATA COLLECTION AND IMPROVED TECHNOLOGIES". National Transportation Safety Board. 20 May 1998. We were able to derive the speed of the engines based on a sound spectrum analysis of the engine sounds recorded on the CVR. That information, in combination with conversations between the crew enabled us to determine that the engines were not at high thrust as the pilots believed. 
  6. ^ Grades of Membership, the Australian Institute of Energy, aie.org.au
  7. ^ Australian medals for achievement in Science and Technology, Australian Academy of Science
  8. ^ a b Ken Fraser (2008) Black Box, From Black Box to Black Hawk, www.kenblackbox.com
  9. ^ Joe Rich, 'Hartnett, Sir Laurence John (1898–1986)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, accessed 1 December 2012. First published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007
  10. ^ Centenary Medal, WARREN, David Ronald, It's an Honour, 2001.
  11. ^ Officer of the Order of Australia, WARREN, David Ronald, It's an Honour, 2002.
  12. ^ Tribute to Nancy-Bird Walton, Qantas, 1 October 2008.
  13. ^ Schudel, Matt (22 July 2010). "David Warren, inventor of 'black box' flight data recorder, dies at 85". Washington Post. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  14. ^ Tsikas, Mick (22 July 2010). "History Recorder Remembered". Reuters/Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 July 2010.  (photo)
  15. ^ Simon Corbell MLA Media Releases (15 June 2012). "Canberra champions honoured with street names". Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  16. ^ Defence Science and Technology Organisation Media Releases (26 March 2014). "Black box inventor honoured with building name". Retrieved 15 November 2014. 

External links[edit]