Tuesday, January 01, 2008

FAA History Lesson -- January 1

From the FAA Historical Chronology, 1926-1996...

”Jan 1, 1968: The Federal Aviation Administration began a one-year study of the causes of near-collisions in the air, hoping to gather data for developing effective counteractive measures. Since the study's success depended on the full and frank cooperation of those involved, FAA granted immunity from any enforcement or other adverse action, remedial or disciplinary, to any person involved in a near miss that had been voluntarily reported to FAA during the course of the study. On Dec 18, FAA extended the program for an additional year. (See Jun 7, 1961, and Jul 15, 1969.)“

Several years ago, I came up with a saying that I thought was pretty catchy (for a safety geek kind of guy.)

Secrets and Safety Don’t Mix

Take a close look at the above: ”... success depended on the full and frank cooperation of those involved...” This really isn’t rocket science. It’s safety. And even if it was rocket science, we just happen to have some rocket scientists involved. They work at NASA. It’s important to note -- they also work for you. They’re public employees.

NASA released some of their findings on aviation safety yesterday. I, of course, went to track them down and take a look. You see, when I say safety geek I mean safety geek. That’s how I spent my New Year’s Eve day -- downloading safety studies.

The released information is crap. I downloaded the first two files -- after wading through page after page of mazes meant to dishearten the casual reader -- and I got crap. Two files of nothing but numbers that will (supposedly) match up to other numbers if I can just figure out where those numbers are hidden.

You don’t have to take my word for it. This is what The Associated Press had to say about it.

”NASA grudgingly released some results Monday from an $11.3 million federal air safety study it previously withheld from the public over concerns it would upset travelers and hurt airline profits. It published the findings in a format that made it cumbersome for any thorough analysis by outsiders.“

It would really be worth your time to read that story but I’ll give you the short version in case you don’t have time. NASA says “get lost”. The Associated Press is pissed off. The FAA says, “We know best” and the Air Transport Association says, “Whew !”

Public employees using public funds telling the Press to get lost when they try to access public information. I hope the AP puts them on the front page every day. Hopefully, Congress will do something besides complain.

It’s just your safety they’re all monkeying around with. Happy New Year.

Don Brown
January 1, 2008

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