Is it Safe for Pilots to Take Photos in the Cockpit?

Pilots aren’t supposed to let attractive passengers join them up front. Even when the passenger is a porn star. Or a Playboy Bunny.

They’re supposed to fly the plane not film flight attendants having sex, look at porn in the cockpit, or check Facebook. Let alone this.

One pilot was recently photographed with a beer.

However you can get some amazing shots from the cockpit, photo and video, and as long as pilots are paying total attention during the crucial moments of flight it’s actually better for safety for pilots to be human.

Here’s my take on pilots taking photos and video while on duty, which was included in this piece for Conde’ Nast Traveler,

“Safety is paramount. But that’s also why there’s more than one person in the cockpit. Pilots get up to use the restroom. They take breaks to eat on longer flights. They chat with each other, and with other members of the crew,” Leff points out.

“In fact, you don’t want them only looking down at the controls—you want them mentally fresh. So while there are stories of pilots doing silly things, and those never reflect well, they’re human beings, and it’s best to design processes around that rather than expecting them to behave robotically.”

What do you think, is it ok for pilots to do things other than fly the plane while they’re working up front?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Since I was an airline pilot for 5 years, I can attest to the fact that there is no compromise to safety if a pilot engages in conversation or maybe takes a photo, provided it is not done in critical phases of flight. For instance, below 10,000 feet, conversation must be limited to that necessary for operation of the aircraft. Once at altitude, normally 33,000 – 39,000 with the autopilot engaged, a relaxed atmosphere is encouraged provided one pilot is monitoring the controls at all times. For airline guys, flying an airplane comes as naturally to them as driving a car comes to the average driver. Certain times require total attention, such as departure and arrival phases of flight which is why the rule of “sterile cockpit” applies. The flight crew will “ding” the cabin crew passing through 10,000 feet signaling it is ok to speak!

  2. Wow, what a stupid question to begin with!
    Unless the pilots (2 of them) are taking off or landing the aircraft, why wouldn’t it be safe to take a photo while cruising at altitude?
    How about a more intelligent question.

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