Should plane cockpits have video cameras?

John Cox, Special to USA TODAY
Published 3:00 p.m. ET April 12, 2019


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Question: What are your thoughts about cameras in the cockpit? With cameras so prevalent in society, has the time come to place a camera in the cockpit for safety investigations?

– David Fischer, Portland, Oregon

Answer: I have concerns about the ability to keep the videos off of the internet. Airplanes fly between countries with varying laws. In the event of an accident, it would be traumatic for the crew’s families to watch their loved ones die or be seriously injured in an accident. Until this issue is resolved, I would not support video cameras in the flight deck.

Today’s modern airliners record so many parameters that having a video camera is of limited value.

However, I suspect they will be in the flight deck at sometime in the future.

Q: Was there no way to keep the Airbus A380 from being phased out as recently announced?

– No name provided

A: No, the economics of the A380 caused it to have a short service life. Passengers want smaller airplanes going to more destinations instead of large airplanes going to hub cities.

More: No more A380s? Why Airbus’ bet on ‘superjumbo’ jets failed


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Q: Notebook computers have replaced bulky paper flight manuals.  How many gallons of fuel is this estimated to have saved, and are there other weight-saving options?

– Jim Sack, Fort Wayne, Indiana

A: Airlines and manufacturers are constantly looking for weight-saving ideas. One airline claimed it would save $1.2 million in fuel costs by using iPads instead of 35 pounds of paper manuals. I did not see a savings in gallons in my research to answer your question.

Q: What problems would cause you to make an emergency landing?

– Felyn

A: There are several reasons that a pilot would decide to land at an airport other than the intended destination. The term “emergency landing” is a media term and not really representative of the facts.

A diversion can be due to a problem or malfunction with an engine, pressurization system, electrical system, hydraulic system or navigation system. Usually if there is a problem, there is a redundant system available so the diversion is precautionary and not an “emergency.”

John Cox is a retired airline captain with US Airways and runs his own aviation safety consulting company, Safety Operating Systems.


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