Air travel safety and NASA
Over a four-year period, NASA conducted 24,000 interviews with airline and general aviation pilots to assess risky incidents such as near-collisions or last-second changes in landing instructions. The data was so ugly that NASA has refused to make it public, as it "could materially affect the public confidence in, and the commercial welfare of" the flying industry and public. Did they think that refusing to release this information to us would have a laudatory effect? More importantly, though, doesn't the public have "the right to know"? How is it that a Republican administration has adopted such a "big brother"-ly attitude toward the information that it has collected with its citizens' money?
This data may not be reliable. We should be able to examine that question. We should be able to make our own, informed decision about when and how we will fly. If this information is reliable, it should be available for outside-government experts to evaluate: Wisdom is not limited to government sources, and it is entirely possible that outside experts would derive information from this data which would make air traffic control safer for everyone. It is a sign that the government is too cozy with big business when it refuses to make this information available to everyone.