Video Cameras and Airplanes: ‘FAA Safety Briefing’ Article

The January/February 2014 issue of FAA Safety Briefing includes a feature, “Lights, Camera, Action!” that discusses using video cameras in aircraft.

FAASafety-JanFeb2014Cvr-250pxOne of the key questions pilots ask is whether it’s OK to mount cameras externally and how best to do so. The FAA Safety Briefing article includes these comments:

The method of installation matters in terms of whether FAA approval is required. If the camera is a secondary portable unit hand carried onboard (inside the aircraft), the FAA typically will not get involved. Most cameras used by GA pilots are self-contained, portable, and sufficiently lightweight to have no appreciable impact. The method of mounting the camera, however, still has to be evaluated and installed or attached using a method acceptable to the FAA. For example, a yoke-mounted iPad holder has no appreciable effect on handling the aircraft, and these devices do not affect airworthiness.

If, on the other hand, the installation is attached to the aircraft by hard-point methods such as bolts and screws, or if it interfaces with aircraft navigation or electrical systems, it becomes a major alteration because it may appreciably affect airworthiness. This kind of installation requires use of other FAA-approved data or a field approval evaluation. Methods such as glue, suction cups, or duct tape are typically not acceptable, in part because their failure could cause harm to the aircraft or persons on the ground or in the aircraft.

The bottom line is that all installations require some sort of approval. Each must be evaluated for its application and complexity to ensure safety. If you have a question, start by calling your local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO).

As I’ve noted elsewhere, Sport Aviation, EAA’s main magazine, also explored the use of video cameras on and in aircraft in “Pilot’s-Eye View,” a feature in the February 2013 issue.


One Response to Video Cameras and Airplanes: ‘FAA Safety Briefing’ Article

  1. Pingback: Aviation Video Tips | BruceAir, LLC (

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