Aeronautics: October 2007 Archives

House Committee on Science and Technology Committee Members to NASA: Public Has a Right to See U.S. Air Safety Survey Data, House Science Committee

"Chairman Gordon and other Members called on NASA to release the data claiming the public has a right to know about the safety of travel in the nation's skies. Administrator Griffin announced at today's hearing that NASA would release the NOAMS data, reversing NASA's earlier stance. Several questions regarding the specifics of the release still remain, however, and the Committee plans to follow up with NASA to make sure the data is made publicly available in a timely manner."

NASA to release pilot survey - Hall urges balance of transparency and confidentiality, House Science Committee Republicans

"Today, Griffin agreed to release the data, once it is appropriately "scrubbed" to protect the anonymity of the pilots who were surveyed. He also expressed his regret for the language NASA used in responding the FOIA request, saying, "I regret any impression that NASA was in any way trying to put commercial interests ahead of public safety. That was not and never will be the case."

NASA to Release Disputed Data, NY Times

"The administrator of NASA told a Congressional hearing today that his agency would soon release data from tens of thousands of interviews with pilots about safety issues, information that NASA previously said could damage the airline industry. But at the hearing, the administrator, Michael Griffin, and the surveys designers disagreed so deeply about the purpose of the survey and the usefulness of its information that they barely sounded as if they were talking about the same project."

NASA Internal Memo: Message from the Administrator - October 24, 2007

"I have been made aware that a request from the Associated Press for information from a NASA safety survey of airline pilots was withheld under the Freedom of Information Act. The request was for raw data and other aspects of the ongoing project. In a letter to the news organization, one of the several reasons for denying the request for the data cited concerns for "public confidence" and for the "commercial welfare" of air carriers. This rationale was based on case law, but I do not agree with the way it was written. I regret the impression that NASA was in any way trying to put commercial interests ahead of public safety. That was not and will never be the case."

Opposing view: We value openness, Mike Griffin, USA Today

Earth to NASA: Sunlight, not secrecy, is the best way to stop accidents, USA Today

NASA Chief Regrets Agency's Statement, AP

"Sent on behalf of John Sullivan - Director, Center for Advanced Manufacturing (Purdue University)

Due to an emerging issue with aviation safety, NASA Administrator, Michael Griffin has asked Dr. Porter to cancel her trip to Purdue to handle this issue. Again, we will work with NASA to re-schedule her visit to campus. Below is the link to the news article regarding this important issue."

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 is an archive of entries in the Aeronautics category from October 2007.

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