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Congress looks poised to enact a five-year reauthorization for the Federal Aviation Administration by Friday, May 10. But something critical is missing from the bill: a total ban on "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion" in the aviation industry.

Diversity, properly understood, can make us – both as individuals and as a society – stronger. In some situations, it pays dividends to have people with different backgrounds, experiences and philosophical viewpoints around the table. It’s hardly controversial to say that. 

But the framework of "DEI" – an entirely different beast due to its ideological thrust – simply doesn’t fly. In the aviation industry, specifically, it’s downright reckless. What’s more, it’s patently illegal, because federal civil rights laws bar race discrimination in employment.

Passengers look for flight info

Passengers look for information on their flights, Oct. 10, 2021, at Dallas Love Field. (AP Photo/Julie March)

Recent incidents demonstrate how important it is for employees in and around aircrafts to be skilled. Whether it’s doors blowing off, near-misses in the air or on the tarmac, or unruly passengers, the safe and effective operation of airplanes depends upon individuals who are quick on their feet, knowledgeable and well-trained. Indeed, aviation is an industry that regularly faces rapidly changing conditions, ranging from mechanical difficulties to extreme weather.

ELITE UNIVERSITY ELIMINATES DEI HIRING REQUIREMENT: ‘THEY DON’T WORK'

Airplane passengers deserve comfort and peace of mind while traveling. Not surprisingly, consumer confidence is rapidly waning as more and more alarming incidents make the news, and an increasing number of industry insiders blow the whistle. 

Yes, it’s difficult to draw a straight line between diversity considerations broadly and any one incident or disaster. What is indisputable, however, is that placing human lives in the hands of people who are unfit to perform their assigned duties is not just exceedingly irresponsible, but also a violation of the law. 

Previously, the FAA’s pre-employment test had, lo and behold, focused on determining one’s ability to be an air traffic controller. That changed during the Obama administration. It was then that the FAA decided that its workforce didn’t have enough African Americans, so it amended its test in the hopes that more would pass the test. 

And it flushed the passing scores of everyone who had already passed the original test. New questions were asked, like, "How many sports did you play in high school?" This might explain why the FAA is desperately short by 2,000 missing air traffic controllers. And why near-miss events are up by 25%.

NPR'S ‘OBSESSION’ WITH DEI, DIVERSITY ‘TRACKING SYSTEM’ SCRUTINIZED FOLLOWING VETERAN EDITOR'S BOMBSHELL ESSAY

My firm, Mountain States Legal Foundation, is part of a consequential discrimination claim against the FAA. The FAA says that it was merely removing structural barriers to applicants who weren’t getting jobs through the old test, but that’s a feint. 

The new test was so poorly developed that our clients – many of them having received 100% on the earlier test, but who hadn’t had a chance to apply to FAA openings yet – now couldn’t pass the new one.

Federal civil rights law prohibits discrimination in employment. The Supreme Court has said that Title VII covers efforts to "rebalance" the racial makeup of the workforce, even if some racial groups are "over-represented." Similarly, it has stressed that treating people differently based on race still counts as illegal, even if the end goal in mind is to create a "level" playing field. These precedents squarely apply to the FAA’s actions.

RUTGERS UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR SAYS WITHOUT DEI OFFICES, THERE IS ‘NO ABILITY TO MAKE MEANINGFUL PROGRESS’

Our lawsuit is still proceeding through the various stages of litigation. It’s worth noting that we represent just a specific class, about 920 individuals who were denied jobs before 2014. Thus, far more have been harmed. In fact, we’re receiving calls and e-mails weekly, if not daily, from people who suffered race discrimination at the hands of the FAA. Even Elon Musk is paying attention. "Is this for real?" he asked on X.

The FAA has displayed a pattern of putting race considerations ahead of merit and skill, not to mention in one of the most dangerous settings imaginable for such misguided conduct. Without decisive legal action, the pattern will deepen within the FAA and likely across the aviation industry, too. 

Airlines are proudly announcing that they aspire to reach racial and gender "representation" targets for pilots, and manufacturers – even beleaguered ones – are embracing DEI measures.

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Without exaggeration, the aviation industry is courting death and destruction. It’s just a matter of time before someone who lacks the skills necessary is forced to confront a difficult situation and can’t handle it. 

It’s time to declare that, whatever the supposed merits of diversity in the boardroom, HR department, or faculty lounge, aviation must keep DEI off its radar. 

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