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Opinion

For Transportation Safety Board investigators, ‘what happened’ is only part of the story

By Kathy Fox      

Long after the question of 'what happened' has been answered, it’s the 'why' that will lead to improvements, and help ensure that the lessons of one tragedy are used to avoid similar accidents in future.

Whenever investigators from the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) deploy to the scene of an accident, we seek to answer two basic questions: what happened, and why. To do that, we need information. But too often we run into an old problem: for many aircraft, there are no cockpit voice, video, or data recorders—no “black boxes”—required onboard. Information contained in these recording devices is especially important when there are no witnesses or survivors and wreckage is too damaged to be of assistance.

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