(Bloomberg View) — Thanks to cockpit data recorders,investigators know the precise time Andreas Lubitzsent Germanwings Flight 9525 into a mountainside and themaneuvers he used to do so. But when it comes to evaluatingLubitz's psychology as the plane crashed, investigators have hadlittle more to work from than a cockpit voice recording that,according to French prosecutors, revealed he was breathing steadilyduring the plane's descent. Images that more clearly portrayLubitz's state of mind — and offer more insight into how suchtragedies can be prevented in the future — aren't available. That'sbecause cockpit video cameras have never been required by anyairline regulator.

Fortunately, that may soon change. According to a report lastweek in the Wall Street Journal, the International CivilAviation Commission, the U.N. agency that sets global aviationsafety standards, is preparing to make a “big push” for cockpitcameras later this year. (It's unclear whether it will recommendthem, or outright require them.) In doing so, it will have thesupport of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, theU.S.'s lead airline accident investigator, which in January listedcockpit cameras among eight safety-related recommendations it madeto the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

At first glance, the proposal might seem like overkill. U.S.commercial aircraft have been equipped with data recorders sincethe late 1950s, and were required to install voice recorders in the1960s. These days, voice recorders are required to log at least thelast two hours of a flight's cockpit conversations, while flightdata recorders are required to chronicle 88 separate parameters.(In practice, many recorders log over 1,000 parameters.) In theevent of tragedy, those “black boxes” typically provide sufficientinformation to allow investigators to figure out what happened.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free PropertyCasualty360 Digital Reader

  • All PropertyCasualty360.com news coverage, best practices, and in-depth analysis.
  • Educational webcasts, resources from industry leaders, and informative newsletters.
  • Other award-winning websites including BenefitsPRO.com and ThinkAdvisor.com.

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.