Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Air safety must be a lot worse than we thought 

One can only conclude that air safety must be a lot worse than anybody realized.
Not only did NASA release its survey of airline pilots talking about safety problems on the afternoon of New Year's Eve, it also posted the report as dozens of pdf files, then it held a telephone press conference right at the time the report was posted so that reporters couldn't even skim the material first. And finally, the Globe reports that "NASA did not provide documentation on how to use its data, nor did it provide keys to unlock the cryptic codes used in the dataset."
In all, there are so many problems in the way this report was written and released that either this is the worst report ever produced or someone is trying to bury some bad news here. The Globe reports that
Earlier characterizations from people who have seen the results said they would show that events like near-collisions and runway interference occur far more frequently than previously recognized. Such information could not be gleaned from the 16,208 pages posted by NASA on its Web site, however, because of the way it was presented. The data was based on interviews with about 8,000 pilots per year from 2001 until the end of 2004. . . .
Pilots were asked how many times they encountered safety incidents in flight and on the ground, such as near-collisions, equipment failure, runway interference, trouble communicating with the tower and unruly passengers.
I think its another example of how nobody connected with the Bush administration ever wants to do anything that will annoy companies, in this case the airlines. But seeing NASA's hysteria and paranoia over this survey, the results must be bad, really bad.

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