Australia's Assistant Minister for Defence, Stuart Robert, has announced that the Canberra headquarters of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) is being named after the late Dr David Warren who developed the ‘black box’ to help in the investigation of aircraft accidents.
“Dr Warren was a visionary and his invention has made an extraordinary contribution to aviation safety around the world,” Mr Robert said. “The naming of the DSTO building is a fitting tribute to a great Aussie inventor.”
Dr Warren invented the black box flight recorder in the mid-1950s when employed at one of DSTO’s predecessor organisations, the Aeronautical Research Laboratory at Fishermans Bend in Melbourne.
The black box is the most famous invention developed in that laboratory, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. The laboratory also has a world-wide reputation for pioneering aircraft fatigue testing for which it has won two international aeronautical science awards.
“Although the Australian authorities at the time were slow to see the potential of Dr Warren’s invention, it is now an indispensable part of any aircraft or flight,” Mr Robert said.
“By capturing crucial cockpit information the black box provides valuable lessons in avoiding future accidents and improving safety for millions of passengers around the world.
“With evidence from black box recorders there have been far-reaching improvements in aircraft preventative maintenance, operating procedures, safety standards, pilot training, crew management and technical enhancements to critical equipment.”
Chief Defence Scientist Dr Alex Zelinsky said the value of Dr Warren’s work continues to endure not only in aviation but in other forms of transport such as trains, trucks and ships, which have also adopted the black box recorder.
“Over the years DSTO has developed deep expertise in the forensic examination of Defence aircraft accidents and strategies to prevent their recurrence. This is the legacy of David Warren’s work,” Dr Zelinsky said.