Earlier in the week, I posted a time-lapse video of a Southwest flight from Denver (DEN) to Burbank (BUR) and back. Almost a year ago, I posted a similar video of an Air France video from San Francisco (SFO) to Paris (CDG). Along with the comments about how awesome the videos were, I also received quite a few angry comments, emails and tweets berating both artists for using their cameras below 10,000 feet.
First, let’s start with the facts. In both cases, the people making the videos received permission from the airline beforehand. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), airlines are able to approve the use of electronic devices on their own aircraft. From an FAA advisory: “The related 14 CFR sections in paragraph 3 allow for the operation of PEDs [Personal Electronic Devices] that the operator of the aircraft has determined will not interfere with the navigation or communication system of that aircraft… It should be noted that the responsibility for permitting passenger use of a particular PED technology lies solely with the operator.”
Just to make sure I was not reading this wrong, I reached out to the FAA and Alison Duquette with the FAA Office of Communications confirmed to AirlineReporter.com that, “The guidance states that everything should be turned off below 10.000 feet and we expect operators to follow that.” She continued with, “An airline could let someone use a video camera if they determine that there would be no interference.”
So now that we have those pesky facts out of the way, let’s talk some common sense. The rule to not allow cameras is overzealous and well… I think stupid. Do you honestly think that someone using a digital camera is going to cause any sort of interference for an airplane? Things like phones, computers, radios, are made to send and receive signals. Even with those, many have argued that they cause no real harm for airlines.
Most digital cameras, or at least mine, do not transmit anything outside of the body of the camera, they simply have a battery. I have successfully used my Canon digital camera in my house (lights didn’t short out), near my microwave (it didn’t explode), in a highly sophisticated/computerized car (didn’t lose operational control and crash), on the floor of the Boeing factory (paint didn’t catch on fire nor did engines mysteriously start & begin to run out of control), and on yes, on airplanes of all types and I’m still here writing my blog, right?
There is being careful and then there is going a little too far. As I am sure you know, airlines are extremely safe and cameras are not going to change that. With all the real issues going on in the world, being concerned about someone taking photos or video below 10,000 feet should be at the bottom of your list.
All that being said, I am not telling you to take photos below 10,000 without permission from the flight crew. Even if I might not agree with it, these are still the rules and every time I have been told that I cannot take photos I politely comply. It doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it.