Must Be this Small to Ride: Are Camera Mounts FAA Approved?

Aircraft Camera System Parts have helped tremendously in assuring safety and quality during in-flight operations, and, as of recently, have been an effective way to expand the aviation industry to a larger demographic. However, under current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines, there is a distinct lack of regulation regarding window camera, such as Go-Pro attachments, on approved aircrafts. This lack of specific wordage regarding camera attachments leads to confusion on whether or not these are acceptable modifications to aircrafts under Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR). 

Attaching anything to an aircraft is considered a modification. By this premise, camera mounts would be modifications, and as such they should be regulated under AC 43-210A. Within the classification of modifications there are major and minor type changes. Minor type changes have no effect on weight, balance, structural strength, or overall airworthiness of the aircraft. Any modification that has an impact on any of those aspects would be a major type change and would need a Structural Type Certificate (STC) request to be approved by the FAA. Small camera mounts, depending on their placement, are likely to be minor type changes. 

Minor type changes are further classified into major and minor alterations. Major alterations and minor alterations are differentiated by the use of elementary tools for installation. Elementary tools are any operation of installment that do not involve riveting, welding, or any more complex procedure. If an alteration requires anything more than elementary tools it is a major alteration. Major alterations have to be approved by the FAA whereas minor alterations only need to be verified in an airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic’s log book. If the mount for a camera does not require the use of welding or riveting for installation and does not interfere with the airworthiness of the aircraft, then it only needs an entry in an A&P log book. However, according to the FAA, experimental or at home-build aircraft can have any kind of alteration completed, as long as the modifications do not exceed the type change threshold. 

Temporary attachments have little-to-no regulations. Temporary attachments are not considered to be modifications of any kind, and therefore do not need verification of any kind. However, under current FAA guidelines, there is no definition for what is classified as a temporary attachment. Thus, “temporary” aviation camera mounts should be FAR approved due to the burden of lack of specificity. This creates a gray space in what is acceptable and unacceptable and could potentially compromise the integrity of flight. If you are planning on installing a temporary attachment, keep in mind how that installation will affect the airworthiness of the flight. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Safety should always be your first consideration. 


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