Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a call for public comments on a proposed ruling barring the release of data on airplanes struck by birds in the Federal Register. According to the Washington Post, the public comment feedback was so overwhelming in favor of releasing the bird strike data that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is reversing the FAA ruling and making bird strike data open to the public.
The bird strike data became an issue after a commercial airplane lost both engines to a bird strike and had to make a-now-famous emergency landing in the Hudson River. According to a Post interview, Secretary LaHood made the following comments explaining why he decided to release the data:
"I think all of this information ought to be made public, and I think that you'll soon be reading about the fact that we're going to, you know, make this information as public as anybody wants it," LaHood said in an interview for The Washington Post's "New Voices of Power" series. "The people should have access to this kind of information. "The whole thing about the bird strike issue is it doesn't really comport with the president's idea of transparency," the secretary said. "I mean, here they just released all of these CIA files regarding interrogation, and . . . the optic of us trying to tell people they can't have information about birds flying around airports, I don't think that really quite comports with the policies of the administration. . . . It's something that somebody wanted to put out there to get a reaction. We got the reaction, and now we're going to bring it to conclusion."
Win one for transparency and for public participation in the rulemaking process.