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