Transport Canada has quietly posted a searchable version of its CADORS aviation database to its website. You’ll recall this is the data that formed the backbone of Collision Course, the aviation series I co-wrote with Robert Cribb of the Toronto Star and Tamsin McMahon at The Record in Waterloo Region.
It took me four years to get the data from Transport. Now anyone can get it by clicking on http://www.tc.gc.ca/aviation/applications/cadors/splash.htm.
The good folks at Transport have deleted a few of the fields in the online version. For example, they’ve sliced out the aircraft registration number. That makes it difficult to look for a history of problems with one plane. The data also isn’t downloadable in bulk. If you want to get a lot of data in a format easily imported into a database or spreadsheet program, you’ll probably still want to file an Access to Information request. At least yours is likely to be processed at lot more quickly than mine was.
Speaking of CADORS, McMahon at The Record used the data to write a disturbing piece in August about the dangers of bird strikes on aircraft.
Take a read of this passage: “It’s only a matter of time before birds cause the crash of a major commercial airline in North America, said Paul Eschenfelder, a Boeing 757 captain with a major U.S. carrier who has consulted for Transport Canada on wildlife issues. ‘You’ve got a 767 coming out of Rome that has both engines damaged and you’ve got one coming out of O’Hare, one’s on fire and the other had bird remains in it,’ he said. ‘The facts speak for themselves.’” Read the rest at http://www.therecord.com/waterlooregion/.
This is not the only time an agency has posted data online after journalists fought for years to get it. Health Canada’s adverse drug reaction data can be found at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/medeff/databasdon/index_e.html. The department put it up after the CBC’s David McKie and colleagues battled for five long years. More proof that the power of the press isn’t dead yet.
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