How We Did the Investigation, and How You Can Investigate Your Airline - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

How We Did the Investigation, and How You Can Investigate Your Airline

Chief investigative reporter Phil Williams Chief investigative reporter Phil Williams

Our "Unsafe to Fly" investigation began in August 2007 when chief investigative reporter Phil Williams began reading scientific reports from the Federal Aviation Administration's research division. 

The FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center describes itself as "the nation's premier aviation research and development, and test and evaluation facility." 

Click here to read research reports from the Center's fire safety branch.

A number of reports relating to aircraft wiring indicated that they had been videotaped. 

As a result, NewsChannel 5 Investigates filed requests for that video using the federal Freedom of Information Act.  It took several months for those videos to be produced by the FAA.

While waiting for those videos, we also searched minutes from meetings of the FAA's Aging Transport Systems Rulemaking Advisory Committee and its International Aircraft Materials Fire Test Working Group.

In addition, we examined Service Difficulty Reports filed by the airlines.  Those reports reflect maintenance incidents that disclosed to the FAA to help it monitor repair problems and spot trends with aircraft in the U.S.

Click here to search the FAA's online database of SDRs. (For example, type BOEING in the aircraft make field, 737* in the aircraft model field, and SMOKE in the description field. That will give you all SDRs relating to smoke on Boeing 737 aircraft.)

We also searched a database of aviation accidents maintained by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.  In addition, we looked at reports compiled by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

In addition, NewsChannel 5 Investigates reviewed annual (10K) reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by publicly held airlines to see what they reported about the average ages of their fleets.

Back to NC5 Investigates: Unsafe to Fly
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