Vehicle: Airplane: Emergency
Air Eyes   (+8)  [vote for, against]
Visual access to airplane exterior

In so many of the air accidents the people who are flying the plane have no idea what is wrong. They see gauges and numeric readouts but a simple view of the vertical stabilizer would tell them volumes about the difficulty they are in and the quickest way to deal with it. It seems so strange that with the advent of cheap digital pinhole cameras that they would not be studded all over the exterior of the aircraft. With most commercial jets using flat screens in the cockpit it couldn't be that hard to provide and select a signal to display on the Flight Engineer's console that is a detailed, hi-res view of a control surface, an engine or a general view of the aft end. Sometimes a pilot can't tell if there's a fuel leak, if something is on fire, or if a piece of the aircraft has gone missing. Is the landing gear down or is it a bad indicator on the console? Punch up that camera and know right away. Wired or wireless?
-- minoradjustments, Oct 20 2016

Baked by Nissan Pathfinder
Scalable for 747, shirley?! [Sgt Teacup, May 08 2023]

AA Flight 191 https://en.wikipedi...Airlines_Flight_191
[bs0u0155, Dec 27 2023]

"Would you like a business, economy or "look look we're all gonna die" ticket ?
-- popbottle, Oct 20 2016

Different spectral frequencies might be good for different weather conditions. An augment of transponder plots might also be a good idea.
-- wjt, Oct 21 2016

[Right. Smartphone access to the live video feed is $12.99.] I think the sensitivity of the CCD could definitely give IR and other "invisible" wavelength pics to determine icing, fuel leaks, pitot trouble, etc.
-- minoradjustments, Oct 21 2016

The skin of an airplane is a stressed structural member. Putting more holes in it is generally a bad idea.

Adding cameras to interesting bits here and there might be beneficial where other sensors don't suffice. But usually things like fuel pressure can be detected otherwise.
-- RayfordSteele, Oct 21 2016

Don't pilots use existing visual cues to tell if parts are missing? For instance, if the same piece of scenery keeps coming around, it's likely that a wing has come off. If the horizon is waggling up and down, the horizontal stabilizers have come off. If you descend below 0ft AGL without the usual bump, it's probable that the undercarriage is still raised. Etc.
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 21 2016

//the usual bump// wouldn't that count as a tactile, rather than a visual, cue?
-- pocmloc, Oct 21 2016

On light aircraft, visual cues for the pilot-in-'command' (?) are essential, as any audible warnings are invariably drowned out by the screaming from the occupant of the right-hand seat.

The exception is engine failure; if the rattle of beads and the chanting of "Hail Mary, Mother of God, pray for us ..." (or in other cases, "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" accompanied by the sound of squashing eyeballs) becomes audible - along with the whisper of airflow over the fuselage - this typically indicates that all may not be as desired with the propulsion systems.
-- 8th of 7, Oct 21 2016

// four cameras, two pointing to the pointy end, two the other way, one of each on the port side and the other side. //

So, two plus two plus one plus one equals four ... fine.
-- 8th of 7, Oct 21 2016

well, you could have cheap telepresence.

It might waste pilot's attention to do visuals of the plane rather than IFR (instrument based flying), the thing is that you could have people at call centers have these really dull images of normal aircraft, flying normally, as one of their open windows while doing telephone calls.
-- beanangel, Oct 21 2016

" ... and if you subscribe for a whole year, you'll get twenty-five percent off next year's subSAAAAAAAAA! SHIT ! PULL UP ! PULL UP ! GO AROUND ! GEAR UP, FLAPS UP, FULL EMERGENCY POWER ! C'MON, CLIMB, DAMN YOU ! "

Perhaps not.
-- 8th of 7, Oct 21 2016

I would pay a full $2 more for a seat in a high visibility blister underneath the plane.
-- Voice, Oct 21 2016

[Rayford] said: The skin of an airplane is a stressed structural member. Putting more holes in it is generally a bad idea.

There's the famous Jewish engineer in the USSR who drilled holes in the wings to strengthen the structure. When asked he pointed out that Matza bread never breaks at the perforation.
-- pashute, Dec 27 2023

//The skin of an airplane is a stressed structural member. Putting more holes in it is generally a bad idea. //

They have LOTS of holes in already. Really big ones in fact. Cargo compartments are pressurized and look at the size of those doors. They're not built like the passenger doors either, passenger doors are nice, reassuring internally beaded plug structures. No, they shut from the outside like a car hatchback and have a series of clamps. These have failed in the past and cargo doors have blown out with varied outcomes.

I'm not sure why there aren't more cameras on aircraft exteriors. It's certainly possible to mount small modern cameras in a few strategic locations. I'd have one looking back over the whole rear empennage (tail structure: Vertical and horizontal stabilizers) and one each side looking at the trailing edge of the wings/engine exhausts. Hopefully the latter could be angled to catch the landing gear.

You wouldn't need extra holes. The top camera could be integrated into the satellite coms bump on the top. The forward facing cameras could be on the horizontal stabilizers (no pressurization) or perhaps integrated into a window structure of a rearward passenger window.

I'm not sure why there is reluctance to cameras. I suspect that American Airlines flight 191 <link> might be in mind. That had a forward facing camera that was displayed on all the passenger TVs, so they watched themselves go down. This was factored into the suffering/compensation payments. Another factor might be using cameras as flight safety equipment. It's all very well if a camera is there for a nice view once in a while, but once they become safety equipment they need to work ALL THE TIME. What do you do in the dark? What about rain/icing conditions?
-- bs0u0155, Dec 27 2023

[pashute] So that would be a Matzoh Flei?
-- minoradjustments, Dec 31 2023

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