It seems odd that airliners do not have an easy way to monitor critical components on the exterior of the aircraft, should for example, a bird or something else strikes hard enough to cause damage. A mirror or camera would allow a pilot to see and react to a possible dangerous situation quickly. Also, a camera helps a pilot to see what's behind.


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Aircraft rarely collide with any objects. Cameras would only be helpful if the extent of the damage is visible from the outside. Instruments, on the other hand, can be used to diagnostic the problem even if the system fails "internally".

E.g. Many hydraulic lines and cables run across the wing. If these is damage on the leading edge, is it the slats? A hydraulic leak on system A? system B? Is the de-ice working? You need instruments to get a better picture.

Some aircraft indeed come with cameras. The Boeing 777 has cameras on the bottom of the fuselage and the tail to aid pilots during taxi operations (the 777, especially the 777-300 variant, is really long...)

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The Airbus A380 also has a tail mounted camera. Passengers can enjoy a spectacular view of the clouds, the high speed takeoffs and landings:enter image description here

As for mirrors, pilots don't overtake other planes or back off like drivers do. There really is no need to know what is behind the aircraft. Pushback is accomplished by the tug on the ground, who has a much better view of the area than the pilots.

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    $\begingroup$ Also, I guess if you see a blot from a bird strike, you almost only see damage to the bird and can hardly recognize any damage to the aircraft... $\endgroup$
    – sweber
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 21:22
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    $\begingroup$ As for avoiding crashes, planes have radar. At the close in speeds typical of in air collisions its probably too late when you see them in the rear view mirror... $\endgroup$
    – Aron
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 5:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Aron Commercial airliners do not have radar for avoiding crashes. They rely on TCAS to provide adequate collision warning. $\endgroup$
    – kevin
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 13:12
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling 1) I suspect this A380 is on the ground and lining up to takeoff (the A380 tail is huuuuge) 2) You might want to see the nose aligned with the runway but on a crosswind landing the pilots don't, until the last second anyway. $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 22:46
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    $\begingroup$ I've flown on the AirFrance A380, and there were multiple camera angles you could toggle through on your seat display. I'd say 5 or 6, Top of Tail Forward, Under the fuselage, Right Wing Out, Left Wing Out, and Nose. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 5:16

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