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Thursday, 1 November 2007

NASA’s Hidden Air Safety Survey

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which has a mandate to enhance the safety of air travel, has been suppressing huge quantities of data that apparently show the risks for civilian aircraft are much higher than commonly estimated. The agency’s lame excuses for refusing to release the information must make any traveler wonder how bad the implications might be.

Several years ago, NASA began interviewing airline and general aviation pilots about how often they saw risky incidents, like near collisions, or stressful last- second changes in landing instructions. Some 24,000 interviews were conducted over a four-year period before the program, and plans to interview air traffic controllers, flight attendants and mechanics, were scrapped.

When The Associated Press sought the data under the Freedom of Information Act, the request was rejected by a high NASA official. He said releasing the data “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.”

One person familiar with the results told The A.P. that that pilots reported at least twice as many bird strikes, near midair collisions and runway incursions as other government monitoring systems show. Another person involved in the survey told us that the rates were higher than government regulators had been recording.

NASA now says the study was designed to develop a survey methodology, not to assess air carrier safety.

source

My comment: Oh,my! I knew it! It's...eh. Now, I know every profession has its risks and that it often happens to avoid an incident and this is perfectly all right. What bothers me is that NASA withhold such information and that no one makes the effort to ensure safer flights. I don't fly often, but when I do, I feel terrible. I can't stop myself thinking what if. Because I'm aware how many details there are in a plane and how little safe mechanisms to prevent the worst. Should NASA protect the interest of air-travel companies or ours? And anyway, can't we come up with other way to move on our planet. Ok, we have to fly, cuz it's fastest but...I'm not sure that the technology level in planes is enough for the amount of their use. Or, ok, to say it clearly.....planes should be the safest way of travel. The 100% death rate in a crash is no good. I can deal with the possibility of a crash. I can't deal with the 100% death rate. I want to know that even in the worst case, I still have a chance to survive. Just a chance!

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