Why is NASA Sitting on this Airline Safety Report?

NASA Sits on Air Safety Survey, AP

"A senior NASA official, associate administrator Thomas S. Luedtke, said revealing the findings could damage the public's confidence in airlines and affect airline profits. Luedtke acknowledged that the survey results "present a comprehensive picture of certain aspects of the U.S. commercial aviation industry." The AP sought to obtain the survey data over 14 months under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. "Release of the requested data, which are sensitive and safety-related, could materially affect the public confidence in, and the commercial welfare of, the air carriers and general aviation companies whose pilots participated in the survey," Luedtke wrote in a final denial letter to the AP. NASA also cited pilot confidentiality as a reason, although no airlines were identified in the survey, nor were the identities of pilots, all of whom were promised anonymity."

Editor's note: This is a yet another rather dumb public stance for NASA personnel to take. I wonder how the "public" will feel when they learn that their government is openly witholding important information from them regarding their safety?

File Your Own Freedom of Information (FOIA) Request and see what NASA does or does not send you.

Statement by NASA Administrator Mike Griffin on Pilot Survey

"I am reviewing this Freedom of Information Act request to determine what, if any, of this information may legally be made public. NASA should focus on how we can provide information to the public -- not on how we can withhold it. Therefore, I am asking NASA's Associate Administrator for Aeronautics Research, Lisa Porter, to look into this situation, including ensuring that all survey data are preserved, and report to me as soon as possible."

NASA Faces House Hearings on Air Safety, NY Times

"A House committee said Monday that it would hold hearings into why the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is withholding 24,000 responses by pilots for airlines and other companies to a government-sponsored safety survey."

Critics Assail NASA's Refusal to Release Air Safety Survey, Washington Post

"This is like a drug manufacturer finding out through trials that there are problems with a drug and not making the public aware because they don't want to reduce the sales of the drug or scare the public," said Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), chairman of the Science and Technology Committee. "It could be enormously helpful in a wide range of areas in trying to understand mishaps."

What NASA Won't Tell You About Air Safety, Slashdot

"According to a report out of Washington, NASA wants to avoid telling you about how unsafe you are when you fly. According to the article, when an $8.5M safety study of about 24,000 pilots indicated an alarming number of near collisions and runway incidents, NASA refused to release the results. The article quotes one congressman as saying 'There is a faint odor about it all.' A friend of mine who is a general aviation pilot responded to the article by saying 'It's scary but no surprise to those of us who fly.'"

Our View: Heads should roll if NASA wont release its airline-safety study., Faye Observer

"And to make sure that none of the information gets out, NASA also has ordered its survey contractor and all subcontractors who worked on it to return any information they have on the project and to dump it from their computers by the end of this month. NASA, of course, has a long and troubled history with safety issues, with tragic and preventable accidents marring a record of epic achievements. At times, the agency simply doesnt get the importance of making safety the No. 1 priority. This is one of those times."

Editorial: Why NASA secrecy?, New Albany Tribune

"The report cost taxpayers not NASA, not Luedtke, but the American taxpayer $8.5 million. The survey was conducted by the Battelle Memorial Institute, which interviewed about 24,000 commercial and private pilots over about four years. Let Luetdkes obfuscation speak for itself:"

Policy on the Release of Information to the News and Information Media, NASA (PDF)


(a) NASA, a scientific and technical agency, is committed to a culture of openness with the media and public that values the free exchange of ideas, data, and information as part of scientific and technical inquiry. Scientific and technical information from or about Agency programs and projects will be accurate and unfiltered.

(b) Consistent with NASA statutory responsibility, NASA will "provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof." Release of public information concerning NASA activities and the results of NASA activities will be made promptly, factually, and completely."

Gordon, Miller, Udall Direct NASA to Halt any Destruction of Records Relating to the NAOMS Project

"By this letter, we are directing NASA to halt any destruction of records relating to the NAOMS project, whether in the possession of the agency or its contractors, and as defined in the attached Appendix. Destruction of documents requested as part of a Congressional inquiry is a violation of criminal federal law. 18 U.S.C. 1505."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on October 23, 2007 12:00 AM.

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