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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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