NASA releases aviation study

December 31, 2007 6:57:41 PM PST
How safe is it to fly? After putting up a bit of a fight, NASA grudgingly released its aviation safety study today.

The report is drawing fire from across the airline industry.

This is just part of that 16,000 page aviation safety report. NASA was under a lot of pressure by Congress to release this study by today.

It did so reluctantly and now that it is out, airline passengers may find it tough to translate.

Many in the aviation industry say what is inside a 16,000 page NASA safety report is disappointing.

"NASA didn't divulge information that is really important on whether passengers would make a decision on whether they would fly on an airplane or not," said ABC7 Aviation Consultant Ron Wilson.

It was expected the report would give detail on near collisions, runway interference and real safety hazards. Instead there are pages of data -- some only experts can understand. As far as safety problems the report only includes:

Irate passengers can cause stress among the crew some pilots don't show up on time and that some pilots eat meals during critical phases of flights.

ABC7'S Aviation Consultant Ron Wilson believes NASA may have left important details on near collisions out of the report on purpose.

"Some of the information divulged by pilots they did not want to release because it would affect the economy & aviation marketplace," said Wilson.

NASA spent more than $11 million dollars of tax money on this report -- it surveyed some 29,000 pilots for almost four years from 2001 until 2004 by telephone and through written surveys. a retired 30 year veteran of united airline says pilots do so anonymously.

"Pilots have immunity as long as they report that. This allows them great freedom," said retired commercial pilot Captain Mitch Mitchell.

NASA did admit the report wasn't complete and it did not provide any final conclusion. It's been under fire for changing the way it collected data half way through the process and losing surveys.

The report only contains information from pilots.

The Air Transport Association of America represents all the major airlines and says the NASA study "was not designed to capture real-time verifiable data."

The FAA said it would integrate the data with what it currently has.

Passengers will have to decide for themselves how to take the study.

"I feel like a lot of attention and effort is implemented for safety and security of the airplanes and their passengers," said airline passenger Faez Shukur.

NASA says the report will be passed off to the American Academy of Sciences for it to assess.

It is still unknown if other parts of the report -- those containing information on near collisions will be released.


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