Are GoPro Aircraft Mounts FAA Compliant?

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Are MyPilotPro GoPro aircraft mounts FAA compliant? The short answer is yes, but the long answer is a bit more involved. The FAA issued a memo on March 13, 2014 entitled “Request for Clarification: External Camera Mounts” that addresses this head on.

FAA Memo

Let’s dive deeper into this memo to see what it actually says. The first part of the memo addresses whether exterior GoPro airplane mounts are a major or minor alteration to airplanes. To answer that we need to look at the FAA’s definition of a minor and major alterations. FAR 21.93 states, “A minor change is one that has no appreciable effect on the weight, balance, structural strength, reliability, operational characteristics, or other characteristics affecting the airworthiness of the product. All other changes are major changes”.

The MyPiloPro Swivel is the heaviest GoPro aviation mount I sell and it weigh just over 7oz. A pitot tube weighs more than that so we’re good there for the weight and balance part. My mounts are temporary and attach and detached in less than 30 seconds. They also have no effect on structural strength since they attach to the tie down. Because they attach to the tie down, they have no effect on the reliability or operational characteristics of an aircraft. Lastly, due to them mounted under the wing like pitot tubes, landing gear on aircraft like Cherokees, and missiles on military aircraft, there really is no effect on airworthiness. I cringed at seeing pilots mount cameras on the top surface of a wing!

Other Considerations

The memo goes on to say, “Another consideration, in the case of this type of equipment, is the applicability of the term ‘alteration’. FAA Order 8110.37E, defines an alteration as ‘a modification of an aircraft from one sound state to another sound state’. The use of suction cups, or other temporary methods of attachment (not including permanent mechanical attachments to the aircraft), would not be considered a modification to the aircraft. The temporary attachments would not be subject to the regulatory purview of 14 CFR part 43”.

The part that sticks out to me is where it states, “not including permanent mechanical attachments to the aircraft”. This was actually a major part of the design process for my mounts. FAR’s are full of verbiage that say if you use a tool to attach something, you are going to need their approval. MyPilotPro mounts stay clear of this by using a cam lever. This ensures a secure attachment with no tools required. My competitors can’t claim this with their attachment mechanism.

While the MyPilotPro cam lever is very secure and exerts up to 400 lbs of clamping pressure, I have incorporated a stainless steel cotter pin safety feature on my mounts. This prevents the mount from detaching from the tie down if the mount becomes loose during flight. As always, you are the Pilot in Command (PIC) and the decision to use an exterior action mount like MyPilotPro mounts comes down to you.

Safe Flying,

Marshall

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