That way we could study plane crashes more closely, or terrorist hijackings, or resolve passenger disputes. Even buses in Ecuador have video cameras.(WARNING: shocking video)

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    $\begingroup$ weight and costs, a passenger can't really disappear after beating someone up on a plane like they can on a bus $\endgroup$ Dec 30, 2014 at 22:46
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    $\begingroup$ That YouTube link is shocking and disturbing ! $\endgroup$
    – M_R_K
    Nov 7, 2015 at 16:49

4 Answers 4


Many airlines do in fact have inflight camera feeds for Cabin surveillance so I do not think the question is relevant to most major airlines anymore.

For a specific example, Emirates Airline employs the Cabin Video Monitoring Systems (CVMS) across its fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft. These Cabin cameras can be accessed by Cockpit crew through the System Display or the Cabin crew through the FAP (Flight Attendant Panel) and for any abnormal situation such as a hijacking/hostage situation on ground, the CVMS can be accessed on a laptop via the GSP (Ground Service Panel). Additionally, as mentioned above, they have landscape cameras installed for an external video feed but that is more of a feature for passengers.

The advantages of a CVMS in a hijacking/hostage situation such as positioning, identity, body language and weapons of the hijackers plus general operational advantages such as issues during boarding/offloading and other emergency situations such as an evacuation are great and not to be discounted.

  • $\begingroup$ It's not clear from your post whether video from the existing cameras is recorded (which is part of the question). $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Jan 23, 2017 at 9:48

Regarding cabin cameras, there's not much of a need for them. Busses typically don't have flight attendants. In-flight disputes are typically handled well and quickly by the cabin crew on an airliner. Also, theft or assault would have dozens to hundreds of eyewitnesses and no route of escape for the perpetrator, unlike on a bus (which is probably why such incidents are almost completely unheard of on airliners.) In the case of a terrorist hijacking, having video wouldn't really help much. It's usually pretty obvious when an airliner has been hijacked, but there's not a lot that people on the ground can do about it, aside from the possibility of shooting it down if it appears to be threatening a 9/11-style attack.

Regarding exterior cameras, these are actually starting to appear on some airliners now. Newer airliners like the 777-300ER and the A380, for instance, have them, though I don't think they actually record the video. Even if they did, it seems unlikely that they'd provide any useful information beyond what the FDR data and accident scene examination had already revealed (i.e. they'd basically just show that the plane ran into the ground, which would already be known by the time you found the video.)

Regarding cockpit video recording, there is an answer here that addresses it. There have been some suggestions for this to be added over the years, but pilots tend to be against it and the additional information it would provide would likely not be particularly useful in most instances, given that we already have a recording of all of the conversations up to the time limit of the recorder as well as the FDR data.

  • $\begingroup$ Note that cockpit voice recorders don't give you a recording of all conversation: they give you a recording of all conversation in the (typically, as I recall) two hours before they were switched off. So, for example, the CVR from MH370 is ever found, it will probably be no use, since the plane flew on for hours after it changed route, so the critical conversations will have been overwritten multiple times. $\endgroup$ Dec 31, 2014 at 1:53
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidRicherby Good point. I meant all of the conversations taking place while they're recording (i.e. radio calls as well as conversation between the crew members,) but you're right that the time duration is limited. Normally the last two hours would be plenty to capture everything relevant to an accident, but MH370 is indeed a notable example where it likely wouldn't be. These days, one would think it would be trivial to remove that duration limit, though a new design would have to be recertified. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Dec 31, 2014 at 2:19
  • $\begingroup$ CVMS (Cabin Video Monitoring Systems) can definitely help in a hijack situation on ground to aid authorities in establishing various attributes related to the hijacking situation. This information may include 1) Identities 2) Positions 3) Weapons 4) Body Language 5) Others. There's a reason why many airlines employ such systems. $\endgroup$
    – Talha
    Jan 6, 2015 at 8:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Kamran OTOH, every system has to have a fuse, and the hijackers may easily know how to switch it off. $\endgroup$
    – yo'
    Jan 7, 2015 at 21:29
  • $\begingroup$ @yo' Of course there are lot of components that can be damaged by any hijackers but that goes for any security measure, nothing is 100% secure. The balance of probability suggests that it will be very difficult for anyone to disable this particular system (Or others configured like it). The power for the CVMS (Cabin Video Monitoring System) can also be through the GSP when the laptop is connected for external viewing. Additionally, the access to the CB's (Circuit Breakers) would be through the Avionics Bay which is accessible from the Cockpit, Externally or the Forward Cargo Compartment. $\endgroup$
    – Talha
    Jan 8, 2015 at 4:30

Note that cameras are already installed in some aircraft; but I believe this is an operator option and not standard equipment.

For example, from this incident report of a 737-800 PDF:

The captain stated that he could see on the cabin observation camera screen in the cockpit that a CCM was wearing personal breathing equipment (PBE). The captain switched off the IFE. This action also switched off the camera since the IFE and the camera are on the same electrical bus.


You will see them very soon. Actually, I have already made the software for that :) and we will be delivering to few of the Airlines very soon as I work on those systems where we will have the DVR (Digital Video Recorder) and and a live streaming panel. This recording is only manually controlled just by push of a button by pilot or crew. You will see them in B787s. There are few in A350 also for few airlines.

  • $\begingroup$ A lot of airlines already use Cabin Video Monitoring Systems and already have live display on the Flight Attendant Panels. The software(s) already exist for such systems are in use for various aircraft belonging to various airlines. $\endgroup$
    – Talha
    Jan 6, 2015 at 8:47

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