Flying Commercial? Better Think Twice Before Boarding…

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is actively recruiting workers who suffer “severe intellectual” disabilities, psychiatric problems, and other mental and physical conditions under a diversity and inclusion hiring initiative spelled out on the agency’s website. This initiative is part of the FAA’s Diversity and Inclusion plan, which aims to ensure safe and efficient travel across the nation and beyond.

The FAA, which is overseen by Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s Department of Transportation, employs approximately 45,000 people and is responsible for regulating civil aviation. In light of recent events, such as the incident with the Alaska Airlines flight on Jan. 5, the FAA has increased its oversight of Boeing and its production line, as well as companies that supply parts to the airline manufacturer.

Critics of the emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives have claimed that this has made flying less safe. Elon Musk, a tech billionaire, and Matt Walsh, a Daily Wire commentator, have both expressed concerns that prioritizing DEI has led to a decline in safety standards in the airline industry. However, civil rights groups have pushed back against these claims, arguing that such commentary is “abhorrent and pathetic.”

The FAA’s website states that people with “severe” mental and physical disabilities are the most underrepresented segment of the federal workforce. The agency is committed to supporting and accommodating employees from diverse communities and backgrounds.

When asked for comment on the initiative, the FAA said that the agency thoroughly seeks and vets qualified candidates from as many sources as possible for a range of positions. Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, chair of Do No Harm, has expressed concerns that lowering standards for entry into certain fields, such as aviation, may endanger the safety of those the industry is designed to serve.

The FAA’s website outlines that some managers can hire disabled people and veterans through an “On-the-Spot hiring process,” provided the required documentation is submitted. The FAA also provides reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities, which may include modifications to existing facilities or special equipment.