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Usually, taking pictures on planes isn’t an issue. If you want to document the cabin, your seat, in-flight meals and the entertainment options for your personal record, or, perhaps for a flight review, photography isn’t an issue in most cases. However, the Indian Director General of Civil Aviation just released an Air Safety Circular titled “Cockpit Visit on Ground,” which details the country’s new ban that restricts your ability to take photos while traveling, enforceable on all Indian aircraft.

In part, it reads (PDF link):

Many instances have come to the notice wherein cockpit crew has indulged in photography in the cockpit. In few instances, both pilots were away from the aircraft controls when the photographs were taken. On few occasion crew have also allowed people to enter cockpit and take photographs even though their entry was not covered under AIC 3 of 1997.


Taking photography during flight is source of distraction, which may lead to error and resultant reduction in safety. DGCA has already issued advice in this regard vide Operation Circular 4 of 2011 on the subject “Managing Disruptions and Distractions”. In a recent case one of the pilot was engaged in photography during training flight, which eventually resulted into an accident.

Jet Airways' international Premiere class seat.
Jet Airways’ international Première-class seat. Image courtesy of Jet Airways.

While the aforementioned text highlights why pilots have been banned from taking pictures, it seems that the restriction also stretches to the back of the plane. It’s also not clear whether this applies only to Indian airlines, or any aircraft flying to, from or within India. As of August 29, 2016, when the circular was issued, passengers will be restricted in their picture taking, and crew will be completely banned from taking pictures. The circular continues:

In view of the above and to ensure safety of aircraft operations, all the air operators are required to ensure the following:


  1.  Provision of AIC 3 of 1997 and Operation Circular 4 of 2011 on the subject are scrupulously followed.
  2. Crew do not indulge in photography during any phase of flight.
  3. Passengers do not indulge into photography while embarking/disembarking from the aircrafts.

Based on the vague wording, it appears that passengers will be restricted from taking pictures while they’re embarking or disembarking from the aircraft, but they’ll presumably be allowed to take photos while in they’re in their seat. In addition, crew on any aircraft (even long-haul flights when they’re granted a rest period) won’t be able to take photos during any phase of the flight — that is, if “crew” includes all cabin crew or just those in the cockpit.

Don't expect to take any photos in
Don’t expect to take any photos while embarking or disembarking from SpiceJet Airlines’ cabin. Image courtesy of SpiceJet.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first policy like this — some carriers strongly discourage photography, like North Korea’s Air Koryo. In addition, last year TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig flew American Airlines to London and was threatened by a purser that he could be met by the police upon arrival if he didn’t stop taking pictures. However, it’s not clear if there’s a firm policy on taking photos while flying on AA metal.

It’s hard to tell how this new restriction for Indian carriers will be enforced or, for that matter, if every crew member on every Indian airline has been briefed on how to handle these situations. Given how vague the circular is, crew responsible for enforcing the policy could certainly interpret it in a variety of ways.

What do you think of this new restriction? Will it stop you from taking pictures on Indian aircraft?

H/T: One Mile at a Time

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