Cockpit solutions: FAA approach better than knee jerk reactions

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On board an airplane is a mass of data and technology which allows safety regulators to capture information at a cost. Given that there are not unlimited resources, the FAA and the NTSB need to be selective in mandating what must be recorded and retained. The Germanwings tragedy has been a catalyst for debate about what is the appropriate regulatory response. The below editorial argues that a camera in the cockpit is the right safety solution (plus an indestructible DVR). The second linked piece describes what the FAA is exploring as to possible standards related to pilot mental health.

Jim Hall is a former NTSB chairman. Based on that experience, he asserts that a visual recording of the pilot’s actions is required. The data available from the black box plus the personal records of the pilot demonstrate to a very high level of probability that this unfortunate soul killed himself, his fellow crewmembers and the innocent passengers. The only addition to the facts would be the horrific images of the second-in-command’s suicide. There may be other valuable information to be gained by a cockpit camera, but there is no safety nexus between this accident and such a requirement.

In contrast, the FAA is calling for a panel of experts to better assess what can be done on a preventative basis. It is premature to speculate what standards might be developed, but the approach taken by FAA is better than solutions which neither significantly helps in the determination of probable cause nor provide anything proactive in nature.

EDITORIAL: Airplane cockpits need a camera’s oversight: Column

ARTICLE: Germanwings pilot suicide has FAA rethinking mental-health tests

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