List of unrecovered and unusable flight recorders
Flight data recorders (FDRs) and cockpit voice recorders (CVRs) in commercial aircraft continuously record information and can provide key evidence in determining the causes of an aircraft loss. The greatest depth from which a flight recorder has been recovered is 16,000 feet (4,900 m), for the CVR of South African Airways Flight 295. Most flight recorders are equipped with underwater locator beacons to assist searchers in recovering them from offshore crash sites, however these beacons run off a battery and eventually stop transmitting. For various reasons, a flight recorder cannot always be recovered, and many recorders that are recovered are too damaged to provide any data.
|Crash date||Flight||Airline||Plane||Presumed location||Broad cause||Notes|
|1965-08-16||389||United Airlines||Boeing 727-22||Lake Michigan, off Chicago, Illinois||Accident||FDR fragmented by the impact; parts of the outer cover were found but the foil tape containing the data was not.|
|1966-11-15||708||Pan American World Airways||Boeing 727-21||Near Dallgow in former East Germany||Probable Accident||The plane crashed in Soviet territory; only half of the wreckage was relinquished by Soviet authorities. The fate of the CVR and FDR is unknown.|
|1970-05-02||980||ALM||Douglas DC-9-33CF||Caribbean Sea||Accident||Resting in 5,000 ft (1,500 m) of water; neither recorder found|
|1972-06-29||290||North Central Airlines||Convair CV-580||Lake Winnebago, near Appleton, Wisconsin||Accident||One of two aircraft involved in the 1972 Lake Winnebago mid-air collision. An estimated 50% to 60% of the wreckage was recovered from the shallow, muddy water. FDR found in good condition; CVR not found.|
|1973-07-22||816||Pan American World Airways||Boeing 707-321B||Pacific Ocean, off Papeete, Tahiti||Accident||Resting in 700 m (2,300 ft) of water; neither recorder found|
|1974-09-08||841||Trans World Airlines||Boeing 707-331B||Ionian Sea, near Greece||Bomb||By the time the main wreckage was located, conclusive evidence of a bomb explosion had been found, and it was decided that whatever additional information the recorders held would not justify the cost and difficulty of recovering them. Neither of the recorders were ever found.|
|1974-12-04||138||Martinair||Douglas DC-8||Maskeliya, Sri Lanka||Accident||FDR completely disintegrated by impact. Small fragments of the foil tape from the unit were recovered from the crash site, but all of the fragments were from the supply spool of the recorder, and thus did not contain any flight data. The aircraft did not carry a CVR.|
|1975-09-30||240||Malév||Tupolev Tu-154||near the Lebanese shoreline||Unknown||Resting in between 600 and 1,000 m (2,000 and 3,300 ft) of water|
|1977-09-02||3751||Transmeridian Air Cargo||Canadair CL-44||2.5 Nautical Miles east of Waglan Island||Accident||Recovery was hampered by bad weather and poor visibility. Undersea cables in the area precluded the use of dredging equipment, making salvage operations very difficult. Only 25% of the wreckage was recovered after an extensive effort; the CVR and FDR were not found.|
|1977-12-18||730||SA de Transport Aérien||Sud Aviation Caravelle||4 kilometers southeast of Funchal Airport, Portugal||Accident||Aircraft was located but largely not recovered from the sea, it was not stated in the accident report which types of flight recorders were carried, only that none were recovered.|
|1979-01-30||967||Varig||Boeing 707-323C||Pacific Ocean, around 200 kilometers East Northeast from Tokyo, Japan||Unknown||The aircraft debris were never located and thus, neither the CVR and FDR was found and the cause of the crash was never determined.|
|1981-09-13||995||Spantax||McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30CF||Málaga Airport, Málaga, Spain||Accident||FDR usable; CVR destroyed by post-crash fire.|
|1981-05-07||901||Austral Líneas Aéreas||BAC One-Eleven||Río de la Plata, near Buenos Aires, Argentina||Accident||Neither flight recorder was ever found.|
|1985-01-01||980||Eastern Air Lines||Boeing 727-225||25 nmi (46 km) from La Paz at the 19,600 ft (5,970 m) level of Andean peak Mt. Illimani.||Accident||Due to the extreme high altitude and inaccessibility of the accident location, the FDR and CVR could not be recovered. A team of three mountain climbers attempted to find the recorders in 2016, recovering part of the recorder mounting rack and a magnetic tape which they believed may have come from the CVR. The NTSB determined that the tape was not from a flight recorder.|
|1987-11-28||295||South African Airways||Boeing 747-244B Combi||Indian Ocean, near Mauritius||In-Flight Fire||CVR located at a depth of 4,900 m (16,100 ft); FDR not found.|
|1987-11-29||858||Korean Air||Boeing 707-3B5C||Andaman Sea||Bomb||Neither flight recorder was ever found.|
|1988-07-03||655||Iran Air||Airbus A300||Persian Gulf||Shot Down||Neither flight recorder was ever found.|
|1989-03-10||1363||Air Ontario||Fokker F28-1000||Dryden, Ontario||Accident||CVR and FDR destroyed by post-crash fire.|
|1990-09-11||Ferry flight||Faucett Perú||Boeing 727-247||Atlantic Ocean, 350 miles southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland||Accident||Plane and all sixteen aboard missing, along with the CVR and FDR. Aircraft was being returned to Peru after lease to Air Malta. Crew reported a low fuel notice and that they were preparing to ditch. 16 occupants were on board|
|1991-05-26||004||Lauda Air||Boeing 767-3Z9ER||Phu Toei National Park, Suphan Buri Province, Thailand||Accident||Both recorders found; FDR too badly damaged by fire to provide any information; CVR was also damaged but useable.|
|1992-10-04||1862||El Al||Boeing 747-258F||Groeneveen and Klein-Kruitberg flats in the Bijlmermeer, Amsterdam Zuidoost||Accident||FDR found but severely damaged, with the tape broken in four pieces; CVR not found.|
|1992-11-24||3493||China Southern Airlines||Boeing 737-3Y0||12.5 miles south of Guilin Airport, China||Accident||FDR found but severely damaged, with the tape being exposed to the post crash fire; CVR not found.|
|1994-04-06||9XR-NN||Rwanda Government||Dassault Falcon 50||1 Nautical Mile East of Kigali Airport, Kigali, Rwanda||Shot Down||The whereabouts and even the existence of the CVR and/or FDR has been disputed. Multiple independent investigations have been unable to determine the location of any flight recorders the aircraft may have carried. A proper examination of the crash site was not conducted until 15 years after the shootdown, by which time a majority of the wreckage had been displaced or scavenged. The manufacturer performed maintenance on the airplane a year before the crash, during which they documented that no recorders were installed (though mounting racks were in place for the operator to install them if they later decided to). Rwandan aviation laws at the time required all airplanes used for transporting the head of state to carry both a CVR and an FDR. The possibility that recorders were installed at some point between the work performed by Dassault and the shootdown has not been ruled out.|
|1995-08-09||901||Aviateca||Boeing 737-200||San Vicente, El Salvador||Accident||The FDR was not found at the crash site, possibly scavenged from the site by locals. The CVR was found and useable.|
|2001-09-11||11||American Airlines||Boeing 767-223ER||North World Trade Center, New York City||Hijack||Neither flight recorder was ever found.|
|2001-09-11||175||United Airlines||Boeing 767-222||South World Trade Center, New York City||Hijack||Neither flight recorder was ever found.|
|2001-09-11||77||American Airlines||Boeing 757-223||Pentagon, Washington D.C.||Hijack||FDR recovered, CVR too badly damaged by fire to provide any information.|
|2003-05-25||N844AA||Aerospace Sales & Leasing||Boeing 727||Luanda, Angola||Unknown||Aircraft stolen, current whereabouts are unknown.|
|2004-10-14||1602||MK Airlines||Boeing 747-244(SF)||Halifax Stanfield International Airport, Halifax, Nova Scotia||Accident||FDR recovered; CVR mutilated in post crash fire|
|2005-02-03||904||Kam Air||Boeing 737-200||Pamir Mountains, Afghanistan||Accident||Crash site located at a near inaccessible area of the Pamir Mountains. Most of the wreckage was buried in deep snow, and specialists had to clear landmines from the area before it could be accessed. FDR found with extreme difficulty (though it did not contain data due to a pre-existing fault in the data acquisition unit). The CVR was never found, and at least one investigator was killed during the search.|
|2005-10-22||210||Bellview Airlines||Boeing 737-200||Lisa Village, Ogun, Nigeria||Accident||Neither recorder found.|
|2005-12-19||101||Chalk's Ocean Airway||Grumman G-73T Turbine Mallard||Miami Beach, Florida||Accident||Not equipped with FDR; CVR recovered but nothing audible could be recovered from it.|
|2011-07-28||991||Asiana Airlines||Boeing 747-400F||Korea Strait||Accident||Neither recorder found.|
|2012-06-03||992||Dana Air||McDonnell Douglas MD-83||Iju-Ishaga, Lagos, Nigeria||Accident||Both recorders recovered, but the FDR was destroyed. The CVR was usable.|
|2012-12-09||N345MC||private||Learjet 25||Iturbide, Mexico||Accident||FDR recovered but with too much damage to yield any data. CVR not found at crash site, investigators could not determine whether the airplane was equipped with one at the time of the crash.|
|2014-03-08||370||Malaysia Airlines||Boeing 777-2H6ER||South Indian Ocean||Unknown||Plane and all 239 passengers and crew missing, along with the CVR and FDR.|
|2014-07-24||5017||Air Algérie||McDonnell Douglas MD-83||Near Gossi, Mali||Accident||CVR quality was unusable. FDR recovered.|
|2015-09-05||6V-AIM||Senegalair||Hawker-Beechcraft HS125-700A||Atlantic Ocean, west of Dakar, Senegal||Accident||Plane and all seven aboard missing, along with the CVR and FDR.|
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