FAA Guide to Camera Mounts

FAA Compliance 101

In general attaching a camera to an aircraft is considered a modification or alteration to the aircraft.
There are many sections of the FARs that pertain to modifications and alterations.
Part 21 – Change to Type
Part 43 – Major and Minor Alteration
Part 1 – Definitions
Part 91 – Pilot Safety

Major Change
Typically attaching a small sports camera to an aircraft is not going to have enough of an effect to warrant an STC or “Major Change”, ALTHOUGH there are many elements involved so working with a mechanic on your mounting location and type of attachment is important.

Minor Change (Major / Minor Alteration)
A minor change in type is broken into 2 categories, Major and Minor Alterations.
A major alteration is one that has enough of an effect (on below listed items) to require a 337 form and sign off by an IA mechanic.
A minor alteration is one that does not effect the below listed items allowing your A&P mechanic to simply install and make a logbook entry.
Affected items requiring Major Alteration FAR 1.1:
– Weight
– Balance
– Structural Strength
– Performance
– Power Plant Operation
– Flight Characteristics
– Any other qualities affecting airworthiness

If you can prove that you have not modified the aircraft then you may be able to say that your camera is temporary.
The FAA does not define nor support temporary so you will not find anything regarding it in the FARs.
You can use a temporary attachment as long as you consider that you as the PIC are responsible for it.
Sticky mounts and suction cups would be considered temporary, BUT in the eyes of the FAA are not safe and could end in violation of part 91.
The use of tools is not the official deciding factor in “temporary”, but we at Flight Flix feel that it is a good rule of thumb to use to make that decision.

Plastic camera mounts, cases, and parts break.
Single screw attachments are not in order with general maintenance practices.
Attaching to or near control surfaces is not safe.
Attaching on the top of a lifting surface is not safe.
Tethering your camera is a bad idea. If the mount or camera comes loose it will beat the aircraft.