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Home> Aviation Database Reveals Frequent Safety Problems at Airports
Aviation Database Reveals Frequent SafetyProblems at Airports
02/17/2011 - 13:41
Image (c) Robert Benincasa/NPR
By Brant Houston, Investigative News Network. Robert McClure, InvestigateWest. Kevin Crowe, The Watchdog Institute.
A commercial airline pilot en route to San Diego International Airport looks out a window at 10,800 feet andsees a Lockheed S-3 Viking Navy jet coming right at him.?The captain quickly pulled up on the control column to avoid hitting the S3,? the co-pilot wrote in a reportfiled with federal officials. ?He turned his head to the right, which made me look out of my window on the right.And the window was full of the S3.?The two planes passed within about 100 feet of each other.This is just one of thousands of examples of near-misses, bad communications, equipment failures, wildlifehits and sometimes just silly but dangerous errors contained in an aviation safety database collected andanalyzed by NASA.A six-month examination of more than 150,000 reports filed by pilots and others in the aviation industry overthe past 20 years reveals surprising and sometimes shocking safety breaches and close calls at local,regional and major airports throughout the country.A consortium of journalists working at six nonprofit investigative centers across the U.S. reviewed the recordswith Investigative News Network, of which they are members, and National Public Radio. To put theconfidential reports into context, the journalists did extensive data analysis of the reports and conductedscores of interviews with pilots, air traffic controllers and aviation safety experts.This review of the little-explored NASA records shows that the wide variety of problems translates into morethan 130 near-mishaps and lapses reported on an average day, most happening unbeknownst to the flyingpublic or those living near the airports.