Aeronautics: January 2008 Archives

IFPTE on NAOMS

Letter From IFPTE To Congress Regarding NASA Handling of NAOMS Data Release, IFPTE

"On December 31st 2007, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin released redacted NAOMS data to the public. That moment should have been the beginning of a redemptive process in which NASA could move past this embarrassing episode. Alas, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin decided not only to repeat the inaccurate derogatory claims made at the October 31st House Science Committee hearing, but also to add a number of new inaccuracies to the mix (see a summary of ongoing disinformation below). His words, actions, and bellicose public behavior have seriously damaged NASA's credibility"

"False Statement #4: NASA's standard format for data release is PDF (portable document format)
At the press conference, the Administrator stated that "our standard format for data release is PDF format. ... I am sure that you know that the reason why we use PDF format is that the data cannot then be altered by others without our knowledge and still claim that it is NASA data." NASA however has no such policy. In response to a union query, NASA HQ responded that "First, the data to which Dr. Griffin refers pertains to data/information released by NASA Public Affairs (e.g., press releases), not scientific and technical information. Second, the use of the PDF format is a standard practice (not a policy) to protect the integrity of this data/information when released to the public."

Editor's note: This one takes the prize and clearly demonstrates blatant ignorance on the part of Mike Griffin and/or whatever staffer told him this. Mike, you can copy material out of these PDF files easily and import it to other software programs. Try it some time - you'll see.

Message from the NASA Administrator: 2008 National Aviation Operations Monitoring Service (NAOMS)

"Some have said that the initial release date of 31 December was chosen because it was a "slow news day". That is not the case. It was the earliest date we could achieve."

Editor's note: Perhaps if you had not dragged your feet for a month you could have issued this information earlier.

"Finally, we have been criticized for releasing the data in PDF. This is the standard form in which we release data publicly when no particular format has been specified or requested. However, it is true that the sheer volume of NAOMS survey data makes the use of PDF data somewhat cumbersome. Accordingly, I have made an exception to our standard practice in this case, and both the initially redacted data, and all subsequent data, will be published on our website in Excel format."

Editor's note: When is the last time NASA issued 16,000 pages of data in PDF format? You may be a super brain, Mike, but the rest of us can't just ingest all of that data and analyze it in the format it was provided in.

Air Safety Report Update

NASA Updates Aviation Safety Data Website

"NASA updated its National Aviation Operations Monitoring Service (NAOMS) website Monday to add a Microsoft Office Excel formatted version of previously posted files containing pilot survey responses."

Lawmakers hit NASA air safety report, Huntsville Times

"U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, wants the full report released to the public and he chided NASA officials for not releasing it in a way people could understand. "It took three years to compile the data and then another three years to publicly release it - in the form of a cumbersome and heavily redacted report." Shelby said in a statement to The Times. "If the NASA report was worth spending millions of dollars on, don't the taxpayers who paid for it deserve to see the results?"

Earlier NASA Watch posts

Editor's note: NASA Associate Administrator for Aeronautics Lisa Porter is leaving NASA to be the Director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). Her last day will be 1 February 2008.

Jaiwon Shin will be the acting AA for Aeronautics.

No doubt the Market Inn (directions) will be jammed at COB on 1 February with sad HQ personnel.

Internal email from Lisa Porter below:

Runaround on Air Safety, editorial, NY Times

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has grudgingly released data from a four-year survey of pilots about the safety of American aviation. The information was released the day before New Years, with no interpretation of the findings and in a format that is very difficult for outsiders to analyze. If the agency intended to show contempt for the flying public, it succeeded."

Black Hole - What part of 16,208 pages from NASA is comprehensible?, editorial, Washington Post

"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," wrote NASA associate administrator Thomas S. Luedtke. That rationale was beyond unacceptable. Mr. Griffin was right to reverse course and promise Congress that the data would be released by the end of the year. Who knew he would do it in such a snit?"

Friendly skies?: Only NASA knows the truth, editorial, Salt Lake Tribune

"In a display of institutional and bureaucratic arrogance that is distressingly commonplace in the Bush administration, NASA, aka the gang that couldn't fly straight, is stonewalling the press and public."

How safe is air travel, really?, Smarter Travel

"Just how ambivalent NASA was about making the report public can be clearly seen in the timing of the release. Adopting a tactic universally utilized to minimize media attention and coverage, NASA issued the report on New Year's Eve, the year's slowest news day."

NASA's unreliable survey of air mishaps leads us around in circles, Cincinnati Inquirer

"NASA, which is charged with keeping an eye on the sky, reportedly has been keeping scary secrets about what really goes on in the wild blue yonder. Fasten your seat belt, because even figuring out the air safety report released on New Year's Eve gets hairy."

NASA Insults Pilots, Press and Public, Tampa Tribune

"This insult comes after the agency originally refused to release the information to the Associated Press on the grounds it "could materially affect the public confidence in, and the commercial welfare of, the air carriers." Which is it: too frightening or nothing to see? We deserve better, and if we don't get it, NASA needs better leadership."

NASA's stalling on study raises fear and questions, Denver Post

"The flying public still doesn't know whether to be concerned about safety in the skies or to take the word of NASA administrator Michael Griffin, who says the survey shouldn't be cause for worry. The only thing that is certain is that NASA did a poor job of handling the situation. This chain of events does not exactly inspire confidence in the judgment of the people who send astronauts into space."

NASA, not pilot, error, Plam Beach Post

"But Mr. Griffin's idea of disclosure is more subterfuge. The New Year's Eve release was a heavily redacted version of the study, and it was too disjointed to analyze. The edited information made it impossible to determine the responding pilot's experience, what type of plane the pilot flew, or details of the incidents described. Mr. Griffin said NASA wanted to protect the anonymity of respondents. Bunk. The real reason is what the agency has been saying all along: The survey's publication might damage public confidence in flying."

NASA taking prize for arrogance, Sun Sentinel

"Anything that can give the public understandable safety information on air travel is valuable. Congress knows that. The public knows that. And if NASA officials weren't so arrogant, they'd know it, too."

NASA Handled Study On Safety Improperly, The Intelligencer

"NASA, like any other federal agency, is supposed to serve the people, not any business or industry. It may be time for Congress to remind the agency of that."

NASA Releases Air Safety Report, Sort Of, Hartford Courant

"NASA released the heavily redacted survey results on New Year's eve without analysis, and presented it in such a way that independent analysis seems to be very difficult. It's as if we asked a waiter for a glass of water and he came back and dumped it on our heads."

Whither NASA? Safety study raises questions about space agency, Worcester Telegram

"The questions are inescapable: Why spend $11.3 million on a report that is useless to researchers and policymakers? Why is NASA dabbling in air safety studies rather than focusing on expanding the boundaries of human knowledge? Does the agency that put mankind on the moon have the right stuff to plan and execute the next phase of manned space exploration?"

Air Safety: Cause for study, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"It looks like NASA has taken lessons on how to handle intelligence from the CIA. The way the civilian agency has dealt with the release of a flight safety survey stinks of paranoia and secrecy."

NASA should provide clarity on air-safety report, Kansas City Star

"The immediate problem - magnified by NASAs bungling - is how to interpret the data."

NASA Releases Heavily-Redacted Airline Safety Study, Washington Post

"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin told reporters in a conference call that the agency had no plans to study the database for trends. He said NASA conducted the survey only to determine whether gathering information from pilots in such a way was worthwhile. Despite the lack of analysis by NASA scientists, Griffin said there was nothing in the database that should concern air travelers. "It's hard for me to see any data the traveling public would care about or ought to care about," he said. "We were asked to release the data and we did."

Editor's note: With regard to Mike Griffin's comment "It's hard for me to see any data the traveling public would care about or ought to care about." I am really wondering if Griffin even read these documents. I can't imagine that he'd be so dismissive if he had. Given his snooty, aloof remarks, I doubt that he even bothered to do so.

Oh yes - why is Aeronautics AA Lisa Porter so utterly silent about all of this ?

Below are some of the more troubling comments in this survey - I went through this one section and highlighted the ones that caught my eye. I am part of "the traveling public" and this stuff certainly troubles me.

NASA Air Safety Survey: Redacted Air Carrier Survey Responses with Unknowns in Flight Activity Fields

"Section D - a brief set of questions designed to elicit respondent feedback on the interview experience. Note: The responses to free text narrative questions D3A and D5 were disaggregated from the parent survey responses and were subsequently randomized."

  • IT'S TAKING OVER 3 YEARS FOR NASA TO FIGURE OUT THERE ARE NO SAFETY PROBLEMS?
  • I HOPE I WILL BE ABLE TO FIND OUT ABOUT THE RESULTS OF THIS STUDY.
  • PUT SURVEY ON INTERNET AND IT WOULD BE MORE BENEFICIAL FOR SURVEY
  • I'M GRATEFUL THAT YOU GUYS ARE INVOLVED IN THIS. FOR YEARS WE HAVE TRUSTED NASA TO DEAL FAIRLY WITH SAFETY ISSUES.
  • ASK ABOUT MAINTENANCE AND DEFERRED PLANES; A MECHANIC SAID "I'M NOT HERE TO FIX IT, JUST TO DEFER IT."
  • THE SECURITY PROBLEMS IN THE AIRPORTS. THEY ARE FIGHTING THE WRONG PROBLEMS. IT IS NOT THE PILOTS. PILOTS NEED TO BE ARMED. THEY HAVE AN UNUSAL AMOUNT OF SECURITY PROCEDURES FOR THE PILOTS YET NOBODY TALKS ABOUT SECURITY PROCEDURES FOR MECHANICS.
  • ATC GIVES PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT TO CERTAIN AIRLINES, NAMELY [AIRLINE A] AND PILOTS CONSIDER THAT UNFAIR AND UNSAFE.
  • PILOTS NEEDS TO MAKE THE SURVEY QUESTIONS, BECAUSE THESE QUESTIONS ARE STUPID, AND THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE DESK NEED TO BE DOING THE SURVEY.
  • BANKRUTPCY AND FINANCIAL LIABILITY. NEW HIRE QUALIICATIONS. PILOT COMPENSATION FOR LESS EXPERIENCED PEOPLE.
  • ATC SYSTEM CAN'T HANDLE NUMBER OF FLIGHTS 2 YEARS AGO

NASA Says Study All But Worthless, AvWeb

"It's hard for me... to see any data here that the traveling public would care about or ought to care about." [Griffin] told puzzled reporters who thought they might be covering a press conference about aviation safety. Instead they witnessed the political lid being firmly closed on an issue that has dogged NASA for two months and which Griffin clearly wanted no more part of."

NASA Offers Airline Safety Data, NY Times

"Mr. Gordon and Representative Brad Miller, Democrat of North Carolina, who is chairman of the investigation and oversight subcommittee, pledged to push NASA further. Mr. Miller said that "if 80 percent of the pilots they ask agree to sit still for a half-hour survey, voluntarily, my conclusion is the pilots had something they wanted others to know about." "This is now 3 years old, and it's been dumped, unanalyzed and scrubbed of much of the useful information," Mr. Miller said."

Redacted Air-Traffic Safety Survey Released, Washington Post

"Jim Hall, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, also criticized the way NASA released its database. "When a government agency is not transparent with the American people, particularly on an issue like safety, they are not fulfilling their responsibilities and earning their pay," Hall said."

Report containing thousands of pilot complaints is released, CNN

"Robert Dodd, the principal investigator on the study for seven years, said he was "disappointed and perplexed" when he learned NASA initially would not make the findings public."

NASA releases a cryptic study of air traffic safety, Houston Chronicle

"We are willing to release the data, but we -- NASA -- are not willing to draw conclusions from it," Griffin said. "NASA does not have any plans to analyze it. That is for the broader community."

Public served poorly by NASA's grudging release of safety data, The Morning Journal

"Without adequate information from NASA about how to look at and interpret the mountain of data, outsiders such as news organizations have a formidable task in trying to understand the problems identified by pilots and then trying to measure the performance of the FAA and aviation industry in dealing with the problems. If that doesn't worry NASA or the aviation industry, it should worry the public. NASA should be forced to present the report's findings in a manner that the public can find meaningful."


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This page is an archive of entries in the Aeronautics category from January 2008.

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