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Pressure applied by Congress forced NASA to turn over the report

After NASA admitted it tried to keep airline survey results secret from the public, the U.S. space agency recently released the report due to strong pressure from Congress.  The 16,000-page report was not released with a guide or roadmap, which makes it almost impossible for anyone but NASA officials to realistically gather information from the report.

Even though NASA interviewed nearly 30,000 commercial and private pilots during the $11.3 million USD federal air safety study, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said airline passengers shouldn't be concerned about the study.  "It's hard for me to see any data the traveling public would care about or ought to care about," he said during a conference call on Monday.  "We were asked to release the data, and we did."

The disbanded National Aviation Operations Monitoring Service -- designed to help create data gathering practices that could be used by other government agencies-- drew heavy criticism after NASA decided to release parts of the report on New Year's Eve.

"We are willing to release the data, but we — NASA — are not willing to draw conclusions from it," Griffin added. "NASA does not have any plans to analyze it. That is for the broader community."

Furthermore, Griffin said the only reason NASA compiled the information was to help the U.S. space agency test different methods of gathering large amounts of data.  The U.S. space agency originally denied requests to turn over the information after the Associated Press and the Johns Hopkins University Center for Injury Research and Policy asked in October, but Congress said the information must be made public.

The report includes more than 1,000 different occasions when two aircraft flew within 500 feet of one another, which is technically a near miss; 513 hard landing reports; 4,267 reports of birds hitting aircraft; and unspecified numbers of pilots sleeping on the flight deck.

Some parts of the report included narratives contributed by pilots, but often times the released information was too vague to reach a conclusion of overall air safety.  To help protect the anonymity of all the pilots who participated, the report does not link pilot statements to the type of aircraft they flew.

Congress plans to pressure NASA for more details later down the road.

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You've got it backwards
By Doormat on 1/2/2008 12:48:04 AM , Rating: 2
"After NASA admitted it tried to keep airline survey results secret from the public"

You know why they didn't want to release it? Because NASA promised that the information obtained for this report would not be released, and it wont be identifiable back to the individual pilot.

Now NASA was forced to hand over the data and disband the group behind it because of pressure for Congress. Never mind that they were working towards the goal of making the airways even more safe than they already are.

NASA used the most efficient and best tactics until Congress put their nose where it didn't belong. So now all that data went to waste, along with my tax dollars, because the data cant be analyzed for improvements to our nations airways, airlines, pilots and aircraft.

RE: You've got it backwards
By smitty3268 on 1/2/08, Rating: -1
RE: You've got it backwards
By Doormat on 1/2/2008 10:43:04 AM , Rating: 2
Because without the confidentiality agreement that this data was collected under, the information would have never been obtained.

That is, had the pilots and everyone else who contributed known that the data would eventually be released to the general public they would have never volunteered the information in the first place.

Now that that trust has been destroyed, hope for projects like this in the future that rely on confidentiality agreements between government agencies and folks who would otherwise contribute information is now zero.

And comparing this with Cigarette makers is completely preposterous - last I checked flying wasn't hazardous to your health. It seems you're the one who is smoking something.

RE: You've got it backwards
By smitty3268 on 1/2/2008 9:10:59 PM , Rating: 2
Please. Are you saying the government is so impossibly incompetent they can't get any of this kind of information without promising to keep it buried? Why wouldn't a promise of anonymity be enough, like it is for everyone else?

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