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For the Flying Public It’s a Lose, Lose

Newsmax – Did your plane skid off the runway?

Did a side panel of your 737 blow out mid-flight due to “loose bolts?”

Did an engine on your jet burst into flames midair?

Did an oxygen leak prevent your plane from leaving Davos on time?

All of these infelicities of modern air travel have happened in the first weeks of the new year. The last incident victimized hapless Secretary of State Antony Blinken as he tried to leave the World Economic Forum, in fact.

But if you are concerned about the condition of America’s aviation industry, fear not: it is more diverse than ever before, and the good people at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are working hard to make sure it will be even more diverse in the future.

In March 2022, the FAA, a federal agency overseen by the Transportation Department that employs some 45,000 people to manage civil aviation, set a bold new course in implementing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) among its work force.

“Our inclusive culture is defined by our values,” its statement loftily maintained, “and we continuously seek employees from all backgrounds with distinctive ideas, perspectives, insights and talents … FAA actively supports and engages in a variety of associations, programs, coalitions and initiatives to support and accommodate employees from diverse communities and backgrounds.”

How broadminded of them.

Lest you imagine that an August 2023 New York Times investigation documenting nearly 300 “near misses” by planes landing at or taking off from U.S. airports in a 12-month period following the 2022 diversity guidelines changed any minds, updated diversity guidelines released last month reveal a bit more about what “backgrounds” our federal sky monitors would like to see better represented in an industry in which, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, some 80% of accidents are caused by human error.

Departing from its original focus on making sure more Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, female, disabled, and LGBTQ people were included in its workforce, the FAA now insists that “individuals with targeted or ‘severe’ disabilities are the most underrepresented segment of the Federal workforce” and therefore deserve greater accommodation.

“The mission of the FAA involves securing the skies of a diverse nation,” the diversity statement continues, “it only makes sense that the workforce responsible for that mission reflects the nation that it serves.”

Under the Federal People With Disability (FWD) program, on which the FAA relies, however, “severely” disabled individuals include those whose challenges in life include “hearing, vision, missing extremities, partial paralysis, complete paralysis, epilepsy, severe intellectual disability, psychiatric disability and dwarfism.”

Some of these conditions — such as epilepsy and dwarfism — are precise with applicable medical definitions, but several are alarmingly undefined.

Just what is a “severe intellectual disability,” and would you believe a person suffering from one is competent to manage your flight?

Are FAA employees whose disability is “psychiatric” screened for depression, suicidal ideation or homicidal tendencies in jobs involving decisions that can put hundreds of lives at risk? Or would such different and presumably inequitable treatment be unacceptably discriminatory?

Exactly how deaf or blind can one be before FAA diversity bureaucrats perceive any practical problem in employment involving airplanes flying at hundreds of miles per hour?

These inconvenient details are swept aside.

Scrolling down the FAA website’s protocols, implementing the new diversity plan is largely left to managers, who may engage in “on-the-spot” hiring, which the FAA defines as a “non-competitive hiring method for filling vacancies.”

Caught between FAA commissars who evaluate them at least in part on increasing diversity hiring and a sea of potential employees of varying characteristics and competencies, the temptation for managers will be all too strong to make non-competitive hires among the disabled, regardless of definition, risk, or effect.

In addition to serving official DEI ideology in a way that can only benefit middle management careers, this would also eliminate the often laborious process of competitive evaluation among job candidates.

As long as nobody in a position of responsibility cares about safety, competence or comfort, it’s a win-win. For the flying public, however, it’s a lose-lose.


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