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era66

Camera Monitoring for Real Flight Emergencies

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I'm watching Smithsonian Air Disaster episode about the Quantas A380 flight 32 that blew its #2 engine at FL080 outbound from Singapore. The problem was communicated to the flight deck crew via ECAM indicators along, of course, with the obvious sound of the explosion. The captain sent his 2nd officer to the passenger cabin to look out the window for a visual check of the left wing, which had a 2 foot hole puncture and leaking fuel. By this time, the flight deck crew had already extinguished the fire from engine 2, although no one really visualized the fire spewing from the engine. My question is, why aren't these large airliners equipped with multiple modern, small video cameras positioned to monitor and focus on the critical parts of the plane (e.g. engines, wings, tail, cargo areas, gears etc.) with zoom and angle controls so the flight deck crew can visualize problems involving critical areas? If the manufacturers can install cameras that show passengers a forward view of the plane from the top of the tail during flight, why can't they do the same for something more useful? Would appreciate any comments, specially from real life pilots and engineers :)

 

era66

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On 777 we have the GMCS and you can see the engines from the tail cams. However during engine failure Boeing does not advise crew to use the camera to look at the engine condition (we cant  use it also for tyre burst, surfaces jammed ...). Anyway if that would ever occurred to me in flight depending on workload and condition I will go and have a visual inspection after securing the engine.

To your question, let s take the exemple of cargo smoke on a 777. Where would I put cameras? In the cargo bay, behind the sidewall, inside, under the floor? How would I lit the cargo bay? I need a switch for that. If I see fog  in the cargo bay (due to difference in humidity and temperature from bleed air) how would I know it is fog and not smoke?(...)

Do not forget that pilots are trained to operate a ship using procedure and respond to systems failure by using a checklist. That can kill you like on SR111, EL AL 1862. Would cameras have helped? Maybe.

Bottom line from my prospective: Good idea, not practical.

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That is a good example about cargo smoke. How about having one at each gear lock mechanism and add to the emergency checklist to visually check the lock mechanism on the gear in question. You could at least be able to visually be sure that you are not on fire also by looking down the wing at the engines (or the tail). There could be some practical applications but not taken to extremes.

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CrewF16, on the MD80, funny enought there is a kind of periscope to check the position of the landing gear! It was one of the running gag we did to most of the new hostesses on board : Pretending the 3 greens lights were dead and ask her to check for the landing gear using the periscope!

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would a thermo camera not help for cargo? there seems to be alot of cargo smoke detector failures. If you could check a thermo camera surely then you could decide to divert or carry on? or at least get to your nearest maintenance. probably save alot of money??

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Not really.  All manuals that I have operated under say that any indication of a fire should be treated as an actual fire and land as soon as practical.

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would a thermo camera not help for cargo? there seems to be alot of cargo smoke detector failures. If you could check a thermo camera surely then you could decide to divert or carry on? or at least get to your nearest maintenance. probably save alot of money??

 

How many cameras would be required to fully cover the cargo hold of something like a 777, 747 or A380? It would probably take a camera, or more likely two, every 10-15' to make sure there aren't any hidden areas and allow enough overlap to cover for a failed camera. Not to mention enough external cameras to properly cover all engines, landing gear, flight controls, cargo doors etc. while remaining ice and debris free. Seems like a system that would become very complicated (read expensive) on its own.

 

Landing at the first sign of fire seems like a cheaper option to me.

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would a thermo camera not help for cargo? there seems to be alot of cargo smoke detector failures. If you could check a thermo camera surely then you could decide to divert or carry on? or at least get to your nearest maintenance. probably save alot of money??

 

Think about it this way:

Pilots recieve smoke detection alarm, they check the thermo camera to make sure. They do not see anything. Now, what do you do? Land as you should becuase of the smoke detection? Trust that thermo camera didn't miss anything and carry on? Is that upto captain on the case-to-case basis?

 

The checklists and operation manuals are here, because they ensure the correct thing is applied to the specific situation and eliminate possibility of the human error as much as possible. 

The notion to "save money" disregarding the safety measures alread caused so many deaths. 

Better safe than sorry :)

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