List of unrecovered 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.
Recovered recorders are not always able to definitively identify, however, the causes of an accident. Recorders successfully recovered can be too damaged to be read, as with American Airlines Flight 77, or may have missing data caused by power loss, as with Swissair Flight 111. In the bombing of TWA Flight 841 on 8 September 1974, neither the FDR nor CVR were recovered from the Ionian Sea, despite the locations being narrowed down through the use of the attached Underwater locator beacons (known as "pingers").
|Crash date||Flight||Airline||Plane||Presumed location||Notes|
|1965-08-16||389||United Airlines||Boeing 727-22||Lake Michigan, off Chicago, Illinois||Resting in 76 m (249 ft) of water; FDR never found|
|1966-11-15||708||Pan American World Airways||Boeing 727-21||Near Dallgow in former East Germany||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||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||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||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||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.|
|1974-12-04||138||Martinair||Douglas DC-8||Maskeliya, Sri Lanka||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||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||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.|
|1979-01-30||cargo||Varig aircraft PP-VLU||Boeing 707-323C||in the Pacific Ocean, around 200 kilometers East Northeast from Tokyo, Japan||The aircraft debris were never located and thus, neither the CVR and FDR was found and the cause of the crash was never determined.|
|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.||Due to the extreme high altitude and inaccessibility of the accident location, the FDR and CVR were not recovered at the time.|
A team of 3 men claimed in 2016 to have recovered the remains of the CVR and parts of the FDR. Due to Bolivia remaining the country officially in charge of the investigation, the NTSB was unable to claim the components until January 4, 2017, after Bolivia officially requested assistance from the NTSB in December 2016. On February 7, 2017, the NTSB released a statement, according to which what had been found was not the cockpit voice recorder, "but rather the rack that had fixed it on to the plane – and [a] promising spool of tape turned out to be 'an 18-minute recording of the Trial by Treehouse episode of the television series I Spy, dubbed in Spanish'." 
|1987-11-28||295||South African Airways||Boeing 747-244B Combi||Indian Ocean, near Mauritius||CVR located at 4,900 m (16,100 ft); FDR not found.|
|1987-11-29||858||Korean Air||Boeing 707-3B5C||Andaman Sea||Neither flight recorder was ever found.|
|1988-07-03||655||Iran Air||Airbus A300||Persian Gulf||Neither flight recorder was ever found.|
|1989-03-10||1363||Air Ontario||Fokker F28-1000||Dryden, Ontario||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||Missing. 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|
|1992-10-04||1862||El Al||Boeing 747-258F||Groeneveen and Klein-Kruitberg flats in the Bijlmermeer, Amsterdam Zuidoost||FDR found but severely damaged, with the tape broken in 4 pieces; CVR not found.|
|1992-11-24||3493||China Southern Airlines||Boeing 737-3Y0||12.5 miles south of Guilin Airport, China||FDR found but severely damaged, with the tape being exposed to the post crash fire; CVR not found.|
|2001-09-11||11||American Airlines||Boeing 767-223ER||North World Trade Center, New York City||Due to significant impact and fire exposure, no trace of CVR or FDR could be found.|
|2001-09-11||175||United Airlines||Boeing 767-222||South World Trade Center, New York City||Due to significant impact and fire exposure, no trace of CVR or FDR could be found.|
|2001-10-04||1812||Siberia Airlines||Tupolev Tu-154||Black Sea||Neither flight recorder found. Main fuselage of the aircraft, believed to contain the recorder, was believed to be at depth of 1,000 metres – too deep for divers to retrieve.|
|2003-05-25||N844AA||N/a||Boeing 727||Luanda, Angola||Plane missing along with pilot Ben Charles Padilla and John Mikel Mutantu.|
|2004-10-14||1602||MK Airlines||Boeing 747-244(SF)||Halifax Stanfield International Airport, Halifax, Nova Scotia||FDR recovered; CVR mutilated in post crash fire|
|2005-02-03||904||Kam Air||Boeing 737-200||Pamir Mountains, Afghanistan||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). CVR 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||Neither recorder found.|
|2011-07-28||991||Asiana Airlines||Boeing 747-400F||Korea Strait||Neither recorder found.|
|2012-12-09||N345MC||private||Learjet 25||Iturbide, Mexico||CVR and FDR destroyed upon high speed impact.|
|2014-03-08||370||Malaysia Airlines||Boeing 777-2H6ER||South Indian Ocean||Plane and all 239 passengers and crew missing|
CVR and FDR missing.
|2018-10-29||610||Lion Air||Boeing 737 MAX 8||Java Sea, off the north coast of Karawang Regency, Indonesia||FDR was recovered three days after impact. The FDR's memory unit was significantly damaged due to the high impact speed, but data was able to be recovered.
CVR has still not been positively located, despite some pings from its underwater locator beacon being detected. The search for it is still ongoing.
- NTSB Aircraft Accident Report, United Airlines N7036U in Lake Michigan
- NTSB Aircraft Accident Report, Aircraft Accident Report: Overseas National Airways, Inc. Douglas DC-9 N935F, Operating as Antillaanse Luchtvaart Flight 980, Near St. Croix, Virgin Islands, 2 May 1970 Archived 22 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
- Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
- The Lost Flight – Malév 240 | Airliners.net
- "Varig accident description". Aviation Safety Network. 1979-01-30. Retrieved 2009-10-20.
- Investigation of Controlled Flight into Terrain. Descriptions of Flight Paths for Selected Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT) Aircraft Accidents, 1985–1997. by Robert O. Phillips. Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Department Of Transportation, Project Memorandum DOT-TSC-FA9D1-99-01, March 1999.
- "Two Massachusetts men claim they have found long-lost 'black boxes' in Bolivia". BostonGlobe.com. The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2016-06-06.
- "After Surprising Discovery, Somerville Men Turn Over Black Box From 1985 Plane Crash". boston.cbslocal.com. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
- Bates, Claire (2017-02-22). "The housemates who found a lost plane wreck". BBC News. Retrieved 2017-02-22.
- "NTSB Press Release".
- "Seoul Pardons North Korean in Bombing of Airliner Killing 115". Los Angeles Times. 13 April 1990.
- "Shooting Down Iran Air Flight 655". Iran Chamber Society. 2004.
- Accident description for OB-1303 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 27 January 2016.
- "1992年南方航空公司B737"11·24"桂林空难事故 - CEAA-中国实验类飞行器". 2014-05-19. Retrieved 2018-10-02.
- 9/11 Commission Report, Notes to Chapter 1, note 76, p. 456 (PDF p. 474),
- Gilmore, Inigi (2001-10-07). "Israel accuses Ukraine of hiding missile strike that destroyed jet". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
- hermesauto (2018-11-02). "Lion Air crash: Divers racing against time in search of cockpit voice recorder". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2018-11-19.