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Biographical entry Warren, David Ronald (1925 - 2010)

20 March 1925
Groote Eylandt, Northern Territory, Australia
19 July 2010
Caulfield, Victoria, Australia


David R. Warren, of Aeronautical Research Laboratories, developed the prototype of the black box flight recorder in 1954. The idea was rejected by the Australian Department of Civil Aviation and the Royal Australian Air Force and the product was commercialised by an American company. The flight recorder unit is now standard equipment on all commercial airlines and in many military aircraft throughout the world.



1944 - 1946
Career position - Teacher of mathematics and chemistry, Geelong Grammar School, Victoria
1947 - 1948
Career position - Lecturer in Chemistry, University of Sydney
1948 - 1951
Career position - Scientific Officer, Woomera Rocket Range and Imperial College, London
1952 - 1983
Career position - Principal Research Scientist, Aeronautical Research Laboratories, Melbourne
1958 - 1983
Career position - Chairman, Australian and New Zealand Section, Combustion Institute
1981 - 1982
Career position - Scientific Advisor (Energy) to the Victorian Government
Award - Australian Institute of Energy Medal
Award - Hartnett Medal, Royal Society of the Arts, United Kingdom
Award - Lawrence Hargrave Award, Royal Aeronautical Society, United Kingdom
Award - Centenary Medal for service to Australian society in the aviation industry
Award - Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to the aviation industry, particularly through the early conceptual work and prototype development of the 'Black Box' flight data recorder

Related Corporate Bodies

Published resources


  • Witham, Janice Peterson, Black Box: David Warren and the Creation of the Cockpit Voice Recorder (South Melbourne: Lothian, 2005), 215 pp. Details

Journal Articles

  • Peake, Owen, 'The black box flight recorder', Engineering heritage Australia, 3 (2) (2019), 16-9. Details


See also

Rosanne Walker