FAA Blunts NASA Safety Data

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The FAA moved on Friday to cast doubt on the accuracy of aviation safety data that will be released by NASA today. NASA will release results of four years of telephone surveys with pilots taking part in the National Aviation Operations Monitoring Service (NAOMS). The report is expected to suggest that close calls in the air and on the ground happen more frequently than the FAA has reported. But in a news conference with members of the mainstream media on Friday, Peggy Gilligan, the FAA’s deputy associate administrator for aviation safety, said the NASA report is based on anecdotal evidence, not the "hard data" the FAA collects. "We collect hard data, while the NASA study is based on pilot perception," Gilligan said. "They may give the best answer to their knowledge, but it might not be the way the FAA collects data." The report will be released on New Year’s Eve to honor a promise made by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin to Congress two months ago. Griffin was called to testify to a congressional committee about NASA’s decision to withhold results of the $11.3 million survey despite a freedom of information request from The Associated Press. NASA told the AP it wouldn’t release the results because doing so might undermine consumer confidence and hit the bottom lines of airlines. Griffin told Congress he’d release the survey results by the end of the year after staff had a chance to go through the data to ensure no one’s privacy was violated.