The Federal Aviation Administration is currently seeking to employ disabled or other “special” pilots and air traffic controllers
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has placed “special emphasis” on hiring employees with a “severe intellectual disability” and other serious conditions, and has tasked managers with skipping these candidates to the top of the queue for jobs, according to the agency’s website.
Under its decade-old ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ program, the agency, which regulates civil aviation in the US, “actively recruits, hires, promotes, retains, develops and advances people with disabilities,” treating these candidates to an “on-the-spot” hiring process in which they do not have to compete with abler applicants.
“Special emphasis” is placed on hiring candidates with “hearing, vision, missing extremities, partial paralysis, complete paralysis, epilepsy, severe intellectual disability, psychiatric disability and dwarfism,” the website states.
Many of the open positions currently advertised on the FAA’s website are open only to existing FAA employees, but out of 78 vacancies open to the public at present, 52 are listed as suitable for people with disabilities or other “special” characteristics.
Two of these vacancies are for the role of “airplane pilot,” while one is for an “air traffic control specialist.”
The FAA’s Diversity and Inclusion program has existed since 2013 and the web page explaining this policy was last updated more than a year ago. However, a report by Fox News on Sunday triggered a discussion on social media and on Capitol Hill.
“All I ask is that the FAA hire individuals based on who is most qualified for the position and who will best protect our airspace,” Republican Representative Jeff Van Drew told the network on Monday. “That is the job of the FAA; it is not their job to be politically correct.”
Tech billionaire Elon Musk wrote on his X (formerly Twitter) platform on Monday “Just had a conversation with some smart people [who] could not believe this is happening.”
Musk has been a strident critic of DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) policies in the aviation industry, pointing out last week that according to Boeing’s corporate filings, the US aerospace firm has been paying bonuses to executives who could hit DEI targets since 2022.
“Do you want to fly in an airplane where they prioritized DEI hiring over your safety? That is actually happening,” he wrote on X.
Airplane safety was thrust into international headlines when a door plug – a part of the fuselage installed to block off an emergency exit – in a Boeing 737 MAX 9 blew out in mid-air over the US state of Oregon earlier this month. After United Airlines discovered loose bolts on the door plugs of its own fleet of MAX 9s, all 171 of the aircraft operating in the US were grounded by the FAA.
The agency told Fox News that all candidates, regardless of disability, “must meet rigorous qualifications that, of course, will vary by position.”
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