Fliegen Works has done a number of camera or sensor system installations in aircraft and helicopters. We have done both large and small projects from structural analysis for added equipment approved on a FAA form 337 to complete STCs for camera installations with multiple cameras on different aircraft. We can assist you in how to get your camera or sensor system installed and FAA approved. We have also custom made one-off assemblies for use with camera systems including a gross-tiltl device, two different camera equipment racks, monitor stands, and temporary antenna mounts. The section below outlines the process of FAA approval for a camera system.
If you are doing aerial survey work and have equipment installed, it needs to have some form of FAA approval. The approval can be an STC (Supplemental Type Certificate) for your equipment or FAA form 337 with a block 3 sign-off.
Historically, the FAA’s inspectors (FSDO) often would consider camera equipment as “carry on” mission equipment. That approach was never really legal based on the regulations and has been getting increased scrutiny lately. Older installations often had the mission equipment installed by an FAA form 337, with an STC to install the camera hole. These older approvals are fine as long as you have enough data (drawings or figures) to show that exactly what you have installed is what was approved. A lot of old approvals are missing installation details that your mechanic needs to do a “conformity” or inspection.
If you are starting from scratch, the current best practice for a camera system installation is to get an STC. The advantage of an STC is that it can include an Aircraft Flight Manual Supplement that gets carried on board. If you get ramp checked, the approval for the installed equipment is obvious, as well as the weight and balance data. The process for getting an STC for a camera or sensor installation includes:
- STC application, FAA form 8110-12. Part of an application includes a Project Specific Certification Plan with a compliance checklist. The FAA website www.faa.gov has a certification guide that helps in writing the PSCP. It will include a general description and the primary certification aspects of the project. The regulations for a camera system can usually be the original certification basis for the aircraft that the system is being installed on, as opposed to the newer more stringent regulations. Once the FAA accepts the PSCP, you will get a project letter with an FAA project number and contact.
- Next you prepare drawings that show all the equipment installed including all of the fasteners used and details on every custom made part. Also part of the drawing package should be the electrical wiring and any different configurations, with a means to define each approved configuration.
- Reports are prepared and submitted with DER approval that demonstrate compliance to all the regulations affected by the camera installation. Usually this would be for the structural strength, egress, and electrical aspects of the installed equipment. This may be by analysis, inspection (for egress), or via an FAA approved test plan. Camera equipment is often not designed for the loads that are in an aircraft – especially the emergency landing loads. Another thing to consider is monitors and computers. They need to be restrained for the loads unless they are stowed for takeoff and landing (this can be difficult if there are not approved stowage compartments).
- Every STC must have an ICA (Instructions for Continued Airworthiness) and Maintenance Manual. This is a regulatory requirement and includes mandatory inspections, installation and removal instructions, recommended inspections, and weight and balance instructions. This often recycles content prepared for the drawings, AFMS and PSCP with additions for installation, removal and a parts list. This document has to be sent to the FAA’s AEG, which will review it for content and consistency – this can take a fair amount of calendar time so it is best to get this in early.
- An Aircraft Flight Manual Supplement is prepared that includes the new seating limits, any required placards, normal operating procedures for the pilot, and emergency procedures. The FAA’s Flight Test Branch will review, comment (they always comment) and then approve it.
- Often the FAA will request that the PSCP be revised to include all the submits and any other items, then they will issue the STC. Anyone can own the STC and it can be sold. The owner is responsible for reporting certain things to the FAA and must provide service for the STC.
If you have a camera or sensor installation that you need help getting FAA approval for, please give us a call or send us an email. Some examples of camera system installations include:
CAMERA MOUNT PROJECTS:
- Helicopter Retractable Camera Mount