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Employee rides down a baggage conveyor belt  (Source: AP)
NASA kept research data private to avoid a panic

If you're afraid of flying, this recent article compiled by the Associated Press probably won't relieve any of your pre-flight stress.

After conducting an $8.5 million safety project that revealed safety problems, NASA withheld the results to avoid upsetting air passengers.  The following safety issues take place more than the public is aware - bird strikes, near mid-air collisions and runway interference.  NASA interviewed more than 24,000 commercial and private pilots over a four-year span that started in 2000 - after finishing the interviews and stopping all research, NASA has spent the past year silent about data gathered.

NASA last week requested the main contractor delete all relevant information from its computers.  According to NASA, no collected data was severe enough to warrant contacting the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  

Publishing the data could have damaged the "public's confidence in airlines and affect airline profits," said Thomas Luedtke, senior NASA official.

"If the airlines aren't safe I want to know about it," said Rep. Brad Miller, R-N.C., chairman of the House Science and Technology investigations and oversight subcommittee.  "I would rather not feel a false sense of security because they don't tell us," he added.

The House Science and Technology committee will now reportedly launch an investigation, also warning NASA and its contractor to not delete any documents.

Due to the AP article published in the morning, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said the U.S. space agency will work to try and find a way some of the information can be published for everyone.  The information "should be widely available and subject to review and scrutiny," he said in an official NASA statement.

NASA Ames Research Center officials want to publish a public report before 2008.


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RE: Irresponsible
By johnsonx on 10/23/2007 12:03:02 PM , Rating: 2
One thing to keep in mind though is that what 'they' consider a safety issue isn't quite what the public thinks of as a safety issue. When they say 'runway incursion', most people imagine planes nearly bumping each other, or one plane taking off as another is landing on the same runway with one doing some exotic manuever to avoid a crash. The reality is most 'runway incursions' are simply not so dramatic. The same for 'near mid-air collisions': those are mostly technical violations of a fairly large airspace around each aircraft, but say that phrase to the public at large and again they imagine two aircraft doing barrel rolls to avoid each other. So any study that counts every technical violation really should not be made public.

Also, how is a baggage handler riding down a baggage conveyor a public safety issue? Sure, he's not supposed to do that, but a public safety issue? Please.


RE: Irresponsible
By johnsonx on 10/23/2007 12:14:50 PM , Rating: 2
Let me amend that: it could be made public if the media could be counted on to present it objectively and in the proper context.

When you stop laughing, let me know what you think.


RE: Irresponsible
By mdogs444 on 10/23/07, Rating: 0
RE: Irresponsible
By TomZ on 10/23/2007 1:29:12 PM , Rating: 2
If NASA was smart, they would release the report right now, while the media and the readers/viewers are engrossed in the California Fires story. (What a terrible tragedy, by the way.)


RE: Irresponsible
By johnsonx on 10/24/2007 2:30:43 PM , Rating: 2
yeah, especially given that the fire near me (don't get your hopes up people, I'm in no danger!) was started by arson. I suppose if your house burns down it's equally gone whether the fire was from arson or more natural causes, but it still really gets you knowing someone did it on purpose.


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