FAA: Cockpit Photos Are OK — Maybe


image: Quartz

A widely cited story posted on the blog Quartz on Friday raises the question whether airline pilots who post aerial photos online are violating FAA rules against using “personal wireless devices” in the cockpit, but the FAA told AVweb picture-taking is OK with them — as long as pilots use the proper equipment. “A pilot at the controls is permitted to take a picture with a non-wireless camera and not be in violation of this regulation,” the FAA wrote in an email. “However, a pilot at the controls is not permitted to take a picture with a cell phone.” Tablets and personal computers also are not permitted, and no photos of any kind are allowed during aircraft operations when the “sterile cockpit rule” is in effect, typically below 10,000 feet.

To gauge the extent of possible violations, David Yanofsky wrote, “Quartz has monitored hundreds of Instagram accounts over six months and collected a trove of photos and videos taken by people clearly sitting in the pilot or co-pilot seat on commercial flights. Manyimages appear to have been capturedduring critical phases of flight, like takeoff and landing.” The story found that the rule appears to be “widely flouted,” and posted a PDF of a recent story in a magazine published by the Air Line Pilots Association that features photos shot from airliner cockpits. The Quartz story notes that GoPro video cameras that are WiFi enabled also are apparently forbidden by the FAA rule.

ALPA told AVweb in an email that the organization is committed to safety and professionalism. “This includes strict adherence to Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) and airline policies and procedures.Under the FARs, a critical phase of flight is considered to be any non-cruise portion of the flight below 10,000 feet, including ground taxi.The use of personal cameras during non-critical phases of flight is not prohibited by the FARs.While some photos may appear to be taken in critical phases of flight, they may well have been taken in non-commercial operations such as repositioning or maintenance flights or corporate flights where such photos are not prohibited by the regulations. Every day and on every flight, the professional airline pilots of ALPA are committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety and exhibit complete professionalism.”