Pilot's tip of the week

Legality of an External Camera

Featuring

Subscriber question:

"I got a new 360 camera for my birthday and want to attach it to my airplane. The guys on the FBO couch said this is illegal. Are they right?" — Mark R.

Paul:

“When are the guys on the FBO couch ever right?

This is actually a gray area that the FAA has declined to aggressively address because it just hasn’t been a problem.  In a 2014 memo, the agency’s maintenance division summed it up with this: ‘the use of suction cups or other temporary means of attachment not including permanent mechanical attachments to the aircraft would not be considered a modification of the aircraft.’

That means they don’t fall under the Part 43 maintenance section for modifications.

This is what I call a ‘y’all be careful’  interpretation. While it doesn’t say ‘thou shalt not,’ it does say if the thing comes loose and bops someone or something, you could be exposed under 91.13, the catch-all of careless or reckless operation. So that argues for any of the commercial mechanical mounts that are engineered to stay put on the airplane.

If you do your own mount—and I sometimes do—make sure it won’t detach and be cognizant of airspeed. Temporary mounts have no business on really fast aircraft. Personally, I like mechanical mounts and adhesive patches on slow aircraft. Some people use suction cups, but I’m not a fan.

Whatever you do, y’all be careful.”

Is mounting a camera pointed at yourself inside the cockpit—and talking to it—too distracting for safety?

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