Cameras to be fitted in US plane cockpits

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The Independent US

Safety officials in the United States have defied fierceopposition from pilots and served notice that they intend pushing for the installation of cameras in the cockpits of all commercial airliners as a back-up to the "black-box" recording devices that can be crucial ininvestigating crashes.

The chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Jim Hall, said: "We should not further delay the implementation of available technology that may help us more quickly determine the probable cause of accidents and therefore prevent future accidents."

Mr Hall proposes that all new aircraft should be equipped with cameras by 2003 and that older planes already flying be fitted by 2005. Such a step would probably be emulated in other countries, including Britain.

Controls for the cameras would be concealed beyond the reach of crew members.

The Air Line Pilots' Association, representing most commercial pilots in the US, saidcockpit video was an invasion of privacy. The president, Duane Woerth, said: "It would just be a matter of time before the world shares first-hand the cockpit environment in the seconds before a disaster."