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Pilot’s DSLR Jammed Airliner Joystick and Caused it to Plummet, Investigation Finds

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American and European regulations generally prohibit pilots from taking pictures while flying planes, and for good reason: sometimes the camera does get in the way of safe flight — literally.

An investigation in the UK has found that a military airliner took a terrifying 4,400 foot nosedive last year after the pilot’s DSLR got stuck next to the plane’s joystick.

The Daily Mail reports that Military Aviation Authority has just released a report on the February 9th, 2014, incident that involved a RAF Airbus A330 transport jet carrying 198 people.

After examining the evidence, the investigators concluded that on the way to Afghanistan, the captain had shot a total of 77 photos of the flight deck from his seat. Just three minutes after taking a picture, he moved his seat forward, causing the Nikon camera to fall into the space between his armrest and joystick and become wedged.

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The plane then took a nosedive for 27 seconds, losing 4,400 feet during that span and causing injuries to 33 of the passengers and crew. The report concludes that the case was a “near-miss” that had “realistic potential for the loss of the aircraft and 198 of our people.”

Although the military pilot was not prohibited from using his camera during the flight — and in fact the photography may have helped him be alert during times of boredom — this incident will soon lead to new rules that prohibit things from being placed between the armrest and joystick.


Image credits: Photographs by Military Aviation Authority/Crown Copyright

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