At around 3:40 a.m on September 14, a paramedic and a firefighter who were searching through the debris of the impact site found two dark boxes, about 1.5 feet (46 cm) by 2 feet (61 cm) long. They called for an FBI agent, who in turn called for someone from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The NTSB employee confirmed that these were the black boxes from American Airlines Flight 77. Dick Bridges, deputy manager for Arlington County, Virginia, said the voice recorder was damaged on the outside and the flight data recorder was charred. But he said the FBI still was confident the data can be recovered from both. Bridges said the recorders were found "right where the plane came into the building."
Officials at both American Airlines and United Airlines said the black boxes aboard their destroyed aircraft were modern solid-state versions, which are more resistant to damage than the older magnetic tape recorders. The cockpit voice recorder was quickly transported to the NTSB lab in Washington, D.C., and its data was downloaded. Soon afterward, the FBI took charge of the box and its data. CBS News reported that "Preliminary information shows there is nothing that appears to be useful on the cockpit voice tape. The tape appears to be blank or erased." In its report on the CVR, the NTSB identified the unit as an L-3 Communications, Fairchild Aviation Recorders model A-100A cockpit voice recorder; a device which records on magnetic tape. The NTSB reported that "The majority of the recording tape was fused into a solid block of charred plastic." No usable segments of tape were found inside the recorder.
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