With video cameras being completely ubiquitous and GoPro cameras able to be mounted pretty much anywhere, lots of GA pilots now like to make videos of their own flights. A passenger's cell phone video was used as supporting evidence in the Germanwings crash. Have there been any situations so far where a GA crash has been puzzling to investigators until they watch the video from the pilot's camera which shows the cause clearly? Are they even allowed to do this (anywhere, but NTSB in particular) or are there privacy regulations which prevent them from doing so?

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    $\begingroup$ Kind of related edition.cnn.com/2015/02/03/us/selfie-plane-crash NTSB used the footage to conclude that taking the footage [maybe] caused the crash. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ @ymb1 Oh, now that's ironic! $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 1:12
  • $\begingroup$ I remember this case where a passenger camcorder was used to determine the speed of the engines, and the fact that the pitch of the propellers was reversed in flight in the landing phase, causing the accident. A spectral analysis was conducted on the tape soundtrack. The accident happened in a Twin Otter at Saint Barth, a spectacular approach (note the windsock horizontal position at La Tourmente pass). $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 13:15

1 Answer 1


Absolutely: Here's one of many examples, and you can search the NTSB database for "GoPro" and find plenty more.

The NTSB will use anything and everything available to them in their investigation, though release of certain materials is prohibited by law (e.g. CVR contents are not released, only transcripts).
I believe the NTSB is observing a similar protocol for onboard video: A synopsis is released (including a transcript of conversations) when requested, but the actual video is kept confidential by the agency -- I am not certain in that though, and the NTSB press office could provide a more detailed answer on their rules surrounding cockpit video / audio in GA crashes.

  • $\begingroup$ As a note, don't search for camera or video in the database: You will get thousands of results from "security camera" or similar which captured accidents & were referenced in the ensuing investigation. $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 1:30
  • $\begingroup$ The V Star appeared as a small, dull white flashing dot Do all V Stars flash? ;) $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 1:45
  • $\begingroup$ @TomMcW They do when they're equipped with a white flashing anti-collision light/strobe :) $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 2:41
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    $\begingroup$ I figured they were talking about a strobe. It's just the way they worded it makes it sound like the plane itself was flashing. The report didn't make a conclusion as to cause. Would that be the the Pitts pilot's fault since he was overtaking? $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 14:24

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