The challenge of determining the causes of the accident led him to the idea of a recording device that could withstand a crash where there were no survivors and no witnesses.

Dr Warren, who died on Monday at a Melbourne nursing home, was involved in investigating the crash in 1953 of the world's first commercial jet airliner, the Comet, as it was en route to Australia.

Dr Warren was born in 1925 at a mission station on remote Groote Eylandt in far northern Australia, the first European child born on the island in the Gulf of Carpenteria.

As a boy, he was schooled in the country's south, attending Launceston Grammar in Tasmania and Trinity Grammar in Sydney, and developed a love of radio electronics and, later, chemistry.

In 1934, his father was killed in one of Australia's first air disasters, the loss of the de Havilland 86 Miss Hobart in Bass Strait. His last gift to David was a crystal radio set, according to a biography on the website of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO).

Dr Warren was the principal research scientist at DSTO's Aeronautical Research Laboratories in Melbourne from 1952 to 1983.

Early in his career at DSTO's Aeronautical Research Laboratories in Melbourne, however, there was little interest in his argument for the flight data recorder.

Dr Warren persisted, and in 1956 he designed and built the world's first prototype flight data recorder, which became known as the "black box".

"It took five years before the value and practicality of the flight data recorder concept was realised and a further five years until authorities mandated they be be fitted to cockpits in Australian aircraft," the Department of Defence said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The modern-day equivalent of Dr Warren's device, installed in passenger airlines around the world, is a testament to his pioneering work."

"It is now also used in other forms of road transport to capture information in the lead-up to accidents."

In 2002, Dr Warren was awarded the Order of Australia - among the nation's highest civilian honours - for his service to the aviation industry.

In 2008, Australian flag carrier Qantas named an Airbus A380 aircraft after Dr Warren for his pioneering work.

Dr.David Warren, has died aged 85.

He is survived by his wife Ruth, four children and seven grandchildren.