from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A device or theoretical construct with known or specified performance characteristics but unknown or unspecified constituents and means of operation.
  • n. Something that is mysterious, especially as to function.
  • n. See flight recorder.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Informal name for the brightly colored cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders in an aircraft designed to aid in determining the cause of an accident.
  • n. A theoretical construct or device with known input and output characteristics but unknown method of operation.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. any electronic instrument or part of an instrument whose function is defined, but which is treated as a unit without consideration of the internal mechanisms; broadly, any device whose internal workings are considered as incomprehensible or mysterious by the user.
  • n. a device which maintains a record of cockpit conversations and the readings of many of the instruments on board an aircraft, continuously or at frequent time intervals during a flight. It is of rugged design to withstand a violent crash, and is used to determine the causes of aircraft accidents.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. equipment that records information about the performance of an aircraft during flight


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  • Term for the various modular units that plug into appropriate receptacles in an aircraft electronics bay which do everything from make the coffee to pilot the aircraft (via the autopilot).

    January 2, 2007