Bowing to pressure from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the US DOT has pulled back a 19 March proposal by the FAA to block the public from gaining access to raw bird strike data through Freedom of Information Act requests.
In a statement, the FAA says it will now make its entire database available on-line tomorrow, with only a "very small amount of data" redacted, including personal phone numbers. "The FAA has determined that it can release the data without jeapordarizing aviation safety," says the agency.
Select portions of the incident information collected since 1990 are currently available to the public, but the FAA had requested to block access to raw data due to a "serious potential that information related to bird strikes will not be submitted because of fear that disclosure of raw data could unfairly cast unfounded aspersions on the submitter."
The agency cautioned that analysis by the public of bits and pieces of the data could lead to inaccurate portrayals of airports and airlines, thereby having a negative impact on submission of the reports.
Fifty-five comments were on the proposal were submitted to the FAA during the public comment period, which closed yesterday, including a request from the NTSB to make all of the data publicly available.
"Over the next four months, the FAA will make significant improvements to the database to improve the search function and mike it more user-friendly," says the FAA in today's statement, adding that it also plans to "work with the aviation community to find ways to improve and strengthen bird strike reporting."