Southeast Airlines Goes Video

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Smile, you're on Southeast Airlines. The tiny Florida-based carrier will be among the first in the U.S. to use video cameras to monitor cabin activity. In fact, the Largo company is bragging that it will never forget the face of anyone who flies with them because the digital images of each flight will be kept for up to 10 years. It may also put names to faces with face-recognition software. There are also plans to beam the live images to the corporate head office. "One of the strong capabilities of the system is for the corporate office to be able to monitor what is going on at all times," Southeast VP Scott Bacon told Wired News. Bacon says it's just a matter of time before the FAA mandates video monitoring so Southeast decided to be one step ahead. The video system, to be installed by SkyWay Communications, will have up to 16 cameras throughout the cabin (none in the washrooms) and can either be overt or covert. Although no camera ever stopped a suicidal hijacker, SkyWay VP David Huy said the images could help police track criminals and be used as evidence in air-rage cases, and pilots could use monitors to make sure the cabin is secure before opening the cockpit door. But video can work both ways as the (now-unemployed) pilot of a charter plane found out last week. WPVI News in Philadelphia reported a passenger recorded the Walker Aviation pilot asleep at the controls on a flight from the Bahamas to Ft. Lauderdale. He woke up in time to land the plane and pick up his pink slip. The FAA is investigating.