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.[1]
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[2]
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[3]
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[4]
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.[5]
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.[6]
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.[7]
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.[8] 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.[9] The NTSB determined that the tape was not from a flight recorder.[10]
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.[11]
1988-07-03 655 Iran Air Airbus A300 Persian Gulf Shot Down Neither flight recorder was ever found.[12]
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[13]
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.[14]
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.[15]
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.[16]
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.[17] 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).[18] 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.[19]
2001-09-11 175 United Airlines Boeing 767-222 South World Trade Center, New York City Hijack Neither flight recorder was ever found.[19]
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.[19]
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.[20][21]
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.[22]
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.[23]
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.[24]
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.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "NTSB Aircraft Accident Report, United Airlines N7036U in Lake Michigan" (PDF).
  2. ^ "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" (PDF). Archived from the original on 22 March 2014.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  3. ^ Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
  4. ^ "The Lost Flight – Malév 240 |".
  5. ^ Direcçao-Geral da Aeronautica Civil (1974). "SATA - S.A. DE TRANSPORT AERIEN SE210R SUPER CARAVELLE HB-ICK" (PDF).
  6. ^ "Varig accident description". Aviation Safety Network. 30 January 1979. Retrieved 20 October 2009.
  7. ^ JIACC. "Informe Final: Investigacion de Accidentes de Aviación" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 September 2018.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "Two Massachusetts men claim they have found long-lost 'black boxes' in Bolivia". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  10. ^ "NTSB Press Release".
  11. ^ "Seoul Pardons North Korean in Bombing of Airliner Killing 115". Los Angeles Times. 13 April 1990.
  12. ^ "Shooting Down Iran Air Flight 655". Iran Chamber Society. 2004.
  13. ^ Accident description for OB-1303 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 27 January 2016.
  14. ^ "Lauda Air B767 Accident Report". Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  15. ^ nl:Bijlmerramp,
  16. ^ "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" (in Chinese). 19 May 2014. Archived from the original on 19 May 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Investigation into the Crash of Dassault Falcon 50 Registration Number 9XR-NN on 6 April 1994 Carrying Former President Juvenal Habyarimana | Empennage | Air Traffic Control". Scribd. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  19. ^ a b c 9/11 Commission Report, Notes to Chapter 1, note 76, p. 456 (PDF p. 474),
  20. ^ Monaghan, Aidan (2012). Declassifying 9/11: A Between the Lines and Behind the Scenes Look at the September 11 Attacks. iUniverse. ISBN 978-1-4759-2022-2.
  21. ^ "NTSB Says Nothing Audible On Chalk's Plane CVR | Aero-News Network". Retrieved 7 October 2020.
  22. ^ Report on the Accident to DANA AIRLINES NIGERIA LIMITED Boeing MD-83 aircraft with registration 5N-RAM which occurred at Iju-Ishaga Area of Lagos State, Nigeria, on 3rd June 2012 (PDF) (Report). Accident Investigation Bureau. DANA/2012/06/03/F. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 June 2017. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  23. ^ SCT. "Informe Técnico de la Comision Invetigadora y Dictaminadora de Accidentes de Aviacion" (PDF).
  24. ^ "FINAL REPORT – Accident on 24 July 2014 in the region of Gossi in Mali to the MD-83 registered EC-LTV operated by Swiftair S.A" (PDF). Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety. 22 April 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 May 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2021.