How about a high-end P&S? One example is the Lexio series from Konica. They're very cheap on the auction site and the optics are surprisingly capable. They make a zoom to 70 and zoom to 115 variation. The 70 is more respected, optically. They are a clamshell and would be familiar to operate for the pilot as it would be very similar to a small pocket digital. I keep one in my glovebox that's been through this torture for years and it constantly surprises me with its results. In the hands of a less-than-dedicated photographer such as your pilot friend, you're likely to get better results with something simple anyway. I'm sure there are others.... I've got a small Leica pocket rig that gives good results but the longer focal length you require would have you looking at zoom models, I suppose.