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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 20, 2009 8:54 PM. The previous post in this blog was Somebody else's problem. The next post in this blog is Chávez target: 39th Avenue. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

What PDX doesn't want you to know

Portland's wonderful airport is one of those who want to keep secret the reports on how often bird strikes occur around American airports, and where they occur.

UPDATE, 11:30 p.m.: I have tracked down the Port of Portland's comments, here. Here's the most interesting part:

Many states have public records laws similar to the Freedom of Information Act. Oregon’s Public Records Law creates a strong presumption in favor of disclosure for all public records, with very few exceptions. One exception covers information voluntarily submitted to a public body (such as a municipal airport) in confidence, under circumstances where the public body has agreed to keep the information confidential and the public interest would suffer by its disclosure. ORS 192.502(4). This exemption probably already applies to bird strike data, but if the Port were to be challenged in court, the proposed FAA order would significantly improve our ability to explain how the public interest would be hurt by disclosure. The proposed order would also make available another important exemption, one which applies in the case of records "the disclosure of which is prohibited by federal law or regulations."

While the Port is proud of Oregons’ Public Records Law and supports the public’s right to view government documents and information, there are instances in which the public interest is not well served by unlimited disclosure. This is clearly the case with bird strike data collected under the current voluntary system. We strongly support the FAA’s proposal to adopt an order designating this information as protected from disclosure.

Sounds like a dare.


Comments (9)

Yeah the public can't handle "raw" data.

For what it's worth, we recently had this discussion with my brother-in-law who has been a pilot with Delta for over 20 years. His reply was that he has had bird strikes (personally) about once a year. Granted, if you times that by the number of pilots who fly ... but if you compare that number to the number of flights per day or figure the number of miles flown (by a pilot) per every bird strike ... it's pretty low. If you figure it per times that it actually affects the plane, the number is very low. Just my two cents.

The flying public should hear that -- and have all the information about the seriousness (or nonseriousness) of the problem, at each airport. There is no reason to hold the reports back except bureaucratic laziness -- is there?

No problem here. We have a nice river to come down in.

There is no reason to hold the reports back except bureaucratic laziness -- is there?

To protect the airlines? Maybe they are afraid that ticket sales would go even lower?

Hmmm, you wonder why the airlines would suppress this information? Safety PR for sure. How about endangered species threat? Just thinking outside the flocks.

Hmmm, you wonder why the airlines would suppress this information? Safety PR for sure. How about endangered species threat?

I think the most likely reason is that they would fear economic consequences if word gets out that a given airport has a lot more strikes per flight than a closer competing airport. For example, let's say that Airline A is considering a new Pac NW hub, and needs to choose between PDX and Sea-Tac. (A joke, of course, because we both know they'd choose SEA, but bear with me.) They take a look at tons of data, and learn that there is a much higher probability of a bird strike at PDX than SEA. Certainly that would help make their decision, don't you think?

So, yeah, it's "safety," in a sense, but it's the airlines worried about safety, and the airports worried about the airlines thinking about safety.

I'd bet that Sea-Tac has more birds. Indeed, I'd be willing to specify the family: Laridae.

Considering that we have a nice river, I find it curious that the only airliner to go down here in my memory did the East Burnside routine. But, that wasn't bird strikes, but lack of fuel. Oops...

If the reporting is voluntary, then the data is almost certainly incomplete, and shouldn't be released. Bottom line is, the reporting needs to be mandatory first, otherwise airlines will stop voluntarily providing any data at all.


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