Why does the black box still only record the cockpit's audio today, rather than also recording video of the cockpit? Wouldn't a video of the pilots' actions and what they were seeing outside the plane be very helpful in determining what caused an accident?

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    $\begingroup$ A video camera on top of the tail looking forward would make a lot more sense. $\endgroup$
    – Penguin
    Jan 28, 2018 at 9:59
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    $\begingroup$ In the United States, the FAA at least as far back as the 1980's pushed for cockpit video. Pilot unions and their lobbyist have been successful in defeating it. The FAA has attempted in several test cases to use audio & data recorders to prosecute non-crash violations and understandably the thought of video scares pilots. I believe it will soon be enacted because people are becoming more accustom to privacy invasion. Police video, grocery stores, gas stations, apartment buildings, traffic and security cameras and even automobile cams are common place in most countries - including Russia. $\endgroup$
    – jwzumwalt
    Jan 28, 2018 at 10:02
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    $\begingroup$ Why continue to call it the "black box", when everyone knows it is orange and the name is CVR to distinguish it from the FDR? Possible duplicate of If we add a video recorder in the cockpit to complete FDR/CVR, will we add a blackbox? which was closed as opinion-based. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Jan 28, 2018 at 12:28
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    $\begingroup$ @jwzumwalt That comment sounds like the start of a good answer, why not expand it to one? $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Jan 28, 2018 at 13:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Ron Beyer example: was the crew passed out when they didnt touch the plane for 30 min or did they have quiet laptop keyboards!? $\endgroup$
    – Bageletas
    Jan 28, 2018 at 14:53

1 Answer 1


Why does the black box still only record the cockpit's audio

The Black Box

There isn't a single black box. There is normally a Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and a separate Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) in large civilian transport aircraft. These are not mandatory in military transports or smaller aircraft. Under proposals made in the last decade or two there would probably be a separate video recorder that records the flight instrument panel, recording what information the displays are showing the pilots and the positions of switches. So far as I can find, there are no official proposals to record external views - which are usually likely to be much less useful in determining the cause of an incident if you have FDR and CVR data.


the National Transportation Safety Board in the United States has proposed the idea of featuring cockpit video recording in airliner cockpits several times since the year 2000. However, such proposals have largely been opposed, especially by pilot unions who view such a stipulation as an invasion of privacy. NTSB has never been met with support for such a requirement from the FAA, since first proposing it in the year 2000.

(my emphasis)

From ICAO is Not Calling for Cockpit Video Cameras in New Airplanes. Aviation Today. 2017.

Pilots don’t see the disappearance of Flight 370 as a reason to embrace cameras. They cite two reasons for their opposition: Video surveillance will almost certainly be misinterpreted or get into the wrong hands, and it can adversely affect how they do their jobs. “What a camera can capture can be so easily misunderstood and misconstrued,” says Doug Moss, a former test pilot and accident investigator.

From Why Pilots Hate the Idea of Cameras Watching Them Fly. Wired. 2014.


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