Arthur Alan Wolk Commentary:
NASA Deep Sixes Important
Aviation Safety Information
spent $8,500,000 of our money to study aviation safety the right way: interview pilots in strict confidence so they could
disclose what they see as critical safety failures in our aviation transportation system. Now NASA, instead of releasing the
information which shows that the FAA is totally inept at gathering safety information, has ordered the contractor to destroy
it because it would be embarrassing to government and the airlines.
This stonewalling of public information obtained
in the ordinary course of its duties is unforgivable and a disgrace. The data shows that the FAA is totally in the dark about
aviation safety. The release of this data would demonstrate how and why the FAA doesn't have a clue about what's going
on in the National Airspace System.
The reason no one talks to the FAA is obvious: the FAA will prosecute anyone
from whom it receives information that relates to safety of flight even if the purpose of the disclosure is to improve
safety. Moreover the FAA totally discounts information from the field about safety defects in aircraft so mechanics and pilots
are loathe to report troubling problems as no action is ever taken. In addition, the FAA rats out the whistleblowers and gives
them no protection, hanging them out to dry, to lose their jobs and to go it alone. Therefore, there is no incentive
whatsoever to help the FAA.
NASA, on the other hand,
gives a "get out of jail free card" with the report o sensitive safety information so there is an incentive to provide
timely and helpful information that can be useful in preventing accidents. What is troubling about this revelation, however,
is that a serious effort was made by NASA due to a perceived aviation safety need to get up close and personal so it could
acquire the most useful data and now it will “deep six” it because it would embarrass another agency of government
– the FAA – that agency being solely responsible for the safety of flight. In short, instead of using this information
as a tool to improve the FAA, the most ineffective agency of government, NASA sees fit to destroy the information instead.
Hide critical information that might be embarrassing to the government? Never!
Arthur Alan Wolk