- Whole neighborhoods razed by Oklahoma tornado that killed 24 |
- Analysis: Some Republicans see new scandal in Sebelius fundraising
- Apple CEO makes no apology for company's tax strategy |
- Convicted U.S. killer Arias would join tiny death row group
- Drop in U.S. underground water levels has accelerated -USGS
A huge tornado tears through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, killing dozens. Slideshow
Congress worried air safety data destroyed
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. congressional committee ordered NASA on Monday to more quickly turn over records on a study the agency conducted on airline safety, fearful some data may have been suppressed or destroyed to protect the industry.
"We are directing NASA to halt any destruction of records relating to the project, whether in the possession of the agency or its contractors," Rep. Bart Gordon, a Tennessee Democrat and chairman of the House of Representatives Science and Technology Committee, said in a letter to NASA Administrator Michael Griffin.
Gordon said NASA had made "repeated representations" to committee staff that the "material interests of the commercial airline industry may be harmed" by releasing the study findings.
Gordon's committee requested last week that NASA turn over records related to the study. But Gordon ordered the space agency to accelerate those efforts, citing in his letter an Associated Press report on Monday that NASA had told the lead contractor on the project to return material to NASA and then "purge it from their computers and files."
The committee is also seeking any information that carriers may have supplied about the potential harm to their business if the study results were made public.
The science and technology panel plans a hearing on the matter but no date was announced. The House Transportation Committee is also investigating, officials from that panel said.
NASA officials could not be reached for comment on Gordon's letter late on Monday. But earlier in the day, Griffin said in a statement that he was reviewing the issue to see what "may legally be made public" and instructed a deputy to ensure that that "all survey data are preserved."
The NASA research stemmed from a government/industry effort launched in the late 1990s to reduce aviation accidents over a 10-year period. The heart of the program was to improve safety by critically analyzing technical aircraft data and human performance information.
Officials at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, led one program to interview pilots about their experiences in the cockpit. Their identities were not revealed so they, in theory, would talk more openly about safety incidents they had observed.
A spokesman for the airline industry trade association, the Air Transport Association, said the group was unaware of the study findings but stressed the U.S. commercial aviation system was safe.
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this