9/11 Aircraft ‘Black Box’ Serial Numbers Mysteriously Absent

9/11 Aircraft ‘Black Box’ Serial Numbers Mysteriously Absent
by Aidan Monaghan

Editors Note and Update (11/2012): The following article is seriously out of date and most of the .pdf documents are no longer available at the listed links.  However, we will keep this article as an archive, including file names and previous locations, for further research into these various aircraft crashes.


Of all major U.S. airline crashes within the U.S. investigated and published by the National Transportation Safety Board during the past 20 years, the 9/11 ‘black boxes’ are virtually the only ones without listed serial numbers.

NTSB American Airlines flight 77 flight data recorder report, not noting a device serial number:


NTSB United Airlines flight 93 flight data recorder report, not noting a device serial number:


The United States government alleges that 4 registered Boeing commercial passenger aircraft were used in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, yet has failed to produce any physical evidence collected from the 3 9/11 crash scenes positively tied to these federally registered United and American airlines aircraft. Despite the release of abundant information regarding the 9/11 flights and the aircraft reportedly used, specific information that would confirm official allegations regarding the identity of these aircraft has been mysteriously withheld or denied upon request.

The federally registered aircraft reportedly used during the 9/11 attacks:

– American Airlines flight 11 (N334AA), United Airlines flight 175 (N612UA), American Airlines flight 77 (N644AA) and United Airlines flight 93 (N591UA).

With flight data recorder serial number data that is virtually always provided within NTSB reports of major U.S. commercial airline crashes that occur within U.S. territory, one can trace an installed device to a particular registered aircraft through manufacturer or Federal Aviation Administration records.

The following e-mail was provided by a Susan Stevenson of the NTSB on 12/26/2007, in response to a 12/16/2007 public correspondence e-mail inquiry:

“Yes. NTSB investigators rarely encounter a scenario when the identification of an accident aircraft is not apparent. But during those occasions, investigators will record serial numbers of major components, and then contact the manufacturer of those components in an attempt to determine what aircraft the component was installed upon.”

A 11/26/2007 Freedom of Information Act request of the Federal Aviation Administration for the last known serial numbers of the flight data recorders and other components contained by the aircraft said to have been used during the 9/11 attacks, was unlawfully denied.



A 1/3/2008 e-mail reply from a Loren Cochran, a FOIA specialist with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, regarding the FAA FOIA denial reads as follows:

“It is unusual and unlawful for them to not cite an exemption. “[W]e are not in a position to release the said records at this time,” certainly isn’t an exemption any where in the Freedom of Information Act, and I can’t think of any case law that supports that answer either.”

The RCFP site:


Because of the criminal nature of the 9/11 attacks, the FBI became the lead investigative agency into the 9/11 aircraft mishaps, along with the requested aid of the NTSB. It is possible that the FBI seized FAA 9/11 aircraft records containing component serial number data for aircraft identification purposes and that the FAA no longer possesses them.


By document labeled “Testimony of Marion C. Blakey, Chairman National Transportation Safety Board before the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation United States Senate”, it is indicated that the NTSB assisted the FBI with the process of “aircraft parts identification” regarding the said aircraft.


Flight data recorder information provided by the NTSB, for all major U.S. commercial passenger aircraft crashes within U.S. territory, involving major aircraft and/or loss of life, since 1988, with noted FDR serial numbers:

Comair Flight 5191, August 27, 2006, CRJ-100, 49 Dead, Fairchild Model F-1000 FDR, Serial Number: 102368http://www.ntsb.gov/publictn/2007/AAR0705.pdfChalk’s Ocean Airways Flight 101, December 19, 2005, Grumman G-73, 20 Dead (Not equipped with a FDR)http://amelia.db.erau.edu/reports/ntsb/aar/AAR07-04.pdf
Corporate Airlines Flight 5966, October 19, 2004, HP Jetstream, 13 Dead, Fairchild Model F-1000 FDR, Serial Number: 00511


Pinnacle Airlines Flight 3701, October 14, 2004, CL-600-2B19, 2 Dead, Fairchild Model F-1000 FDR, Serial Model: 01094


US Airways Express Flight 5481, January 8, 2003, Beechcraft 1900, 21 Dead, Fairchild Model F-1000 FDR, Serial Number: 01110


American Airlines Flight 587, November 12, 2001, Airbus 300, 260 Dead, Fairchild Model FA-2100 FDR, Serial Number: 1186


Alaska Airlines Flight 261, January 31, 2000, Boeing MD-83, 88 Dead, Sundstrand Model FDR, Serial Number: 9182


American Airlines Flight 1420, June 1, 1999, McDonnell Douglas MD-82, 11 Dead, L3 Model FA-2100 FDR, Serial Number: 00718


COMAIR Flight 3272, January 9, 1997, Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica, 29 Dead, Loral Fairchild Model F-1000 FDR, Serial Number: 997


TWA Flight 800, July 17, 1996, Boeing 747, 230 Dead, Sundstrand Model FDR, Serial Number: 10291


Valu Jet Flight 592, May 11, 1996, McDonnell Douglas DC-9, 110 Dead, Loral Fairchild Model F-800 FDR, Serial Number: 6132


Atlantic Southeast Airlines Flight 529, August 21, 1995, EMB-120RT, 8 Dead, Fairchild Digital Model F-800 FDR, Serial Number: 04856


American Eagle Flight 4184, October 31, 1994, ATR 72, 68 Dead, Loral/Fairchild Model F-800 FDR, Serial Number: 4838


US Air Flight 427, September 8, 1994, Boeing 737-300, 133 Dead, Loral/Fairchild Data Systems Model F-1000 FDR, Serial Number: 442


US Air Flight 1016, July 2, 1994, McDonnell Douglas DC-9, 37 Dead, Fairchild S-703 FDR, Serial Number: 00880


US Air Flight 405, March 22, 1992, Fokker F-28, 27 Dead, Fairchild F-800 FDR, Serial Number: 154


Atlantic Southeast Airlines Flight 2311, April 5, 1991, Embraer EMB 120, 23 Dead, (Not equipped with a FDR)


United Airlines Flight 585, March 3, 1991, Boeing 737, 25 Dead, Fairchild Model F-800 FDR, Serial Number: 4016


US Air Flight 1493, February 1, 1991, Boeing 737, 22 Dead, Sundstrand Model FWUS FDR, Serial Number: 692


United Airlines Flight 232, July 19, 1989, McDonnell Douglas DC 10, 111 Dead, Sundstrand Model 573 FDR, Serial Number: 2159


Delta Air Lines Flight 1141, August 31, 1988, Boeing 727, 14 Dead, Lockheed Model 109-D, FDR, Serial Number: 654


The only other instance of undocumented FDR serial numbers following a major U.S. commercial aircraft crash within U.S. territory during this 20 year period, seems to be a little known mishap that oddly, occurred on September 11, 1991, exactly 10 years before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. This report also did not list a FDR manufacturer or model number, possibly because the accident was immediately determined to be the result of negligence on the part of aircraft maintenance personnel.

Continental Express Flight 2574, September 11, 1991, EMB 120, 14 Dead, FDR Manufacturer, Model & Serial Number Not Available.http://www.airdisaster.com/reports/ntsb/AAR92-04.pdf
NTSB Major Airline Crash Reports Of Last 10 Years:http://www.ntsb.gov/Publictn/A_Acc1.htmNTSB Major Airline Crash Reports Prior To Past 10 Years:


Notable Crashes Of Commercial Aircraft:


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