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Gordon Comments on NASA’s Initial Release of Air Safety Survey Data

Dec 31, 2007
Press Release

(Washington, DC)  The Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology today acknowledged NASA for the initial release of data from their study of the nation’s air travel system, and urged the agency to not delay in their complete release of the data. 

Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) and Members of the Committee have asked NASA for months to make public the National Aviation Operations Monitoring Service (NAOMS) pilot survey data it collected – at taxpayer expense – on the safety of U.S. air travel. 

Chairman Gordon offered the following comment on NASA’s initial release of NAOMS data:

“At our October 31 hearing, NASA agreed to release the NAOMS data by year’s end.  I am pleased they’ve met that initial commitment, however NASA itself concedes that this is not the most complete data set that they intend to release.  I expect NASA to complete the data release process as soon as possible.  Excessive delay would be in no one’s best interest.”

In testimony before the Committee earlier this year, NASA Administrator Dr. Michael Griffin assured Members that NASA would make the data public by year’s end – a reversal of the agency’s initial refusal to release the data. 

NAOMS was an air safety survey of 24,000 of the nation’s airline pilots, conducted over a number of years.  NASA initially refused a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the data from the Associated Press citing it “could materially affect the public confidence in, and the commercial welfare of the air carriers…”  Committee Members called NASA’s refusal “troubling” and “unconvincing,” and urged the agency to make the data available to the public.    

Pressure from the Committee to speed release of the data resulted in the press conference today by NASA and an initial release of data from the study.

As originally conceived, NAOMS would have integrated continuous survey data from pilots, ground controllers, ground crews and cabin crew to create a complete picture of what is happening in the air safety system nationally.  This information would not be driven by adverse events and would have a statistical rigor that the self-reporting anecdotal systems lack.  As a result, safety experts could mine the data for insights into new safety threats as they emerge.

For further information on the Committee’s hearing and work on this issue, click here.

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110.191

110th Congress