Of all the young of the animal kingdom, the most helpless at birth is the human. Whether due to overprotective human emotions through evolution or natural instinct, the human infant is heavily reliant on its parents for everything. Often, the only way a human child can communicate its distress is through crying, loud and long, until it is satisfied. Amazing how adults today, especially politicians, continue to cry, loud and long, about manufactured issues. One could make a killing in the adult pacifier business. Professionals, concerned with aviation safety, are being drawn into a political battle of social justice.
In 2001, after the 9/11 attacks, it took several days before civilian flights were back in the air. However, per the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, it took three years for the industry to recover to pre-9/11 levels. Last year’s strains dwarf the aviation impacts of 9/11 where Aviation’s losses took place over months, not days. Recovery will take a lot longer. Pilot training issues; Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversight backlogs; internal audits of operators and repair stations all demand attention. In the meantime, Politicians focus on Aviation, hobbling our industry with fears of new COVID strains, while fabricating new divisive agendas, the latest: Diversity and Inclusion.
Is Diversity really a problem in Aviation? Impossible to prove either way with no existing resources for Facts, data or evidence. For unskilled labor, evidence depends on many factors, e.g., location, cost-of-living, etc. Among skilled labor? Not likely. Forty years ago, I was unskilled labor in Kennedy and LaGuardia, where there was a healthy mix of all races and both genders. Later, as an FAA-certificated airframe and powerplant (A&P) technician, race or gender were irrelevant; the job depended on skill, certification and experience. When in management in Newark, I could not hire diversely for skilled positions because a diverse candidate pool did not exist. That is the reality, whether one chooses to believe it or not. If tangible data exists that the Aviation industry is racially corrupt, it must be presented. Allegations, based solely on feelings, are destructive.
Many high-paying positions in Aviation require skilled individuals. There are entry-level positions, but the more challenging require FAA-certification. Even so, not every FAA-certificated pilot can fly an airliner nor FAA-certificated technician troubleshoot a digital navigation system. Among numerous factors that affect an aviation candidate’s hiring are passing a check ride or furlough recalls. A job candidate is not defined by race or gender; skill has nothing to do with Deoxyribonucleic Acid – DNA.
Recently, the Media, some airlines and aeronautical school leadership, would have us believe that the greatest threats to aviation safety today are racism, gender-bias and inclusion. To the thousands of dedicated men and women I have worked with of all races, who have been improving aviation safety for generations, this news must have been a surprise, to learn that Safety can be improved by a concept such as Diversity. The answers, as suggested, are in people’s hearts, not in Root Causes or Facts.
This is a divisive phenomenon that has been escalating for several months. How many friendships, marriages and families were destroyed for having the ‘wrong’ view on any topic that may be hindered by bothersome Facts of any kind. For example, with the unending ‘threat’ of COVID, why not close the border, or at least control access since many confirmed cases are crossing in? Is that racist or common sense? Some people, who do not know me, would call my way of thinking ‘racist’.
There are two problems with this emotional name-calling. First, COVID and ‘racism’ are fundamentally dissimilar; they have nothing to do with each other. Second, calling someone ‘racist’ dodges the question; it is a social justice tactic to distract from the discussion and, thus, a solution. But maybe distraction is the idea. Responses like ‘Nazi’, ‘Hitler’, ‘Racist’ are distractions. They serve no logical purpose, solve no problem. Challenge climate change? You’re a ‘climate denier’. Question COVID vaccine safety? You’re an ‘anti-vaxxer’. Question Diversity as a job qualifier in a safety-sensitive position? You’re a ‘racist’, ‘homophobe’ or ‘misogynist’.
How do we know racism and gender-bias dangers exist? For one, government is telling us so. The FAA will spend millions to crush alleged gender-bias into dust; a typical government response to a crisis that does not exist, a dilemma in search of a Fact. On June 25th, the United Kingdom’s The Daily Mail reported, “Woke FAA Advisory committee recommends using gender-neutral terms like ‘aviator’ and ‘flight deck’ to avoid offending ‘femme’ workers;” The Washington Post (WAPO), Fox News, etc. also reported this story. A WAPO article by Lori Aratani suggested that the term ‘cockpit’ was not gender-neutral, stating, “… male crew members have sometimes ‘wielded the term [cockpit] to undermine femme workers’”. WHAT? Male crew members “wielded a term”? How does One ‘wield a term’? This makes no sense because Ms. Aratani Fabricated a problem. That is what Media does.
If I ask why terms, like ‘cockpit’, are not gender-neutral, the reply will be, “You’re a misogynist.” Ms. Aratani showed how the Media will not even invest the time to get the story right. They do not respect their aviation audience. Is the WAPO correct? Are professional women victims of pilots who “wield the term ‘cockpit’”? Are female Captains really ‘maidens in distress’ on their own flight deck? Or, perhaps instead, the Media is poo-pooing professional women, painting female Captains as helpless and in need of men to protect them from male chauvinist aviators. It also suggests that reporters, like Ms. Aratani, are not assigned stories despite their ignorance of the subject, but because of their ignorance. A reporter’s lack of topic knowledge generates emotional responses, like name-calling, and cannot be taken seriously.
There is little doubt that the Media has become unreliable; politicians are as well. No sane person trusts the Media (or politicians) and they have no one to blame but themselves. They have regressed into diluted sources of opinion; Facts no longer matter. The Media is hijacking the narrative of our industry and it is not productive. Therefore, are their calls for Diversity and Inclusion justice sober demands?
Inside aviation, there are other serious safety issues, such as political ignorance bleeding into our industry. This obliviousness comes from outside the aviation industry, arguing artificial issues that have nothing to do with how the aviation industry functions. Are these outsiders hijacking legitimate and trusted aviation resources? Last month, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) called for papers: “Attention writers: The Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education and Research (JAAER) is proud to announce a call for papers related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the aviation industry. This special issue will aim to publish thought-provoking scholarly and research articles related (but not limited) to race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and other nascent and incipient forms of inequalities in the context of the organization and work within the aviation and aerospace industry.”
Note how ERAU applied the words ‘scholarly’ and ‘research’ with ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’; they have nothing to do with each other. ‘Scholarly’ and ‘Research’ were being used to make ‘diversity’ a valid path to aviation safety. This JAAEC paper mirrored the FAA’s Diversity and Inclusion plan (DIP). The FAA stated on its website, “Diversity is integral to achieving FAA’s mission of ensuring safe and efficient travel across our nation and beyond.” How does Diversity and Inclusion ensure Safety and Efficiency? How strangely unrealistic of the FAA. Has the FAA become UN-diversified since Jane Garvey and Marion Blakey ran it? Look at the FAA’s mission statement: “Our continuing mission is to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.” One could conclude that, by promoting DIP as a hiring measure, the FAA has already forfeited their own mission statement. Diversity and Inclusion equaling Skill and Experience as hiring qualifiers? Is this for real?
Diversity is subjective; Aviation Safety is objective. In aviation, the path to Safety is specific, e.g., following a maintenance manual’s instructions, pilot training, deicing an aircraft, etc. In aviation, how does One promise Diversity? The answer is, One cannot. If two men, one Asian without an A&P FAA certificate and one Hispanic with an A&P FAA certificate, apply for the same A&P job, the Hispanic man will get the job because he is FAA-certificated. It has nothing to do with Diversity. This is true with many aviation positions: pilots, avionics technicians, air traffic control, management, airports, inspectors, investigators, auditors. The DIP is disingenuous.
ERAU’s JAAER paper request is just as suspect. ERAU began in 1925. Were they not Diverse in the 96 years before 2021? What took so long to be diverse? This insincerity is troubling. One, some ERAU instructors are not required to be FAA-certificated or experienced, e.g., English and Math teachers. ERAU can hire a diverse staff and should have done so before today. Two, ERAU is also a Trade School with experienced FAA-certificated instructors. The JAAER papers will delegitimize the Trade School qualifications, tying skilled and experienced Trade School Instructors with unskilled Academicians. Many university professors entire careers are behind a podium, never working with data; coining confusing phrases, like ‘ecological feminism’ or ‘nowtopia’, strung together with ambiguous blather. Is JAAER’s integrity being exploited to give credibility to Opinions and Hearsay?
United Airlines announced new Diversity goals that at least half the pilots hired will be people of color and women. How odd. United Airlines has been around for almost a century. Were they not Diverse before this? Why not also be diverse in hiring equipment mechanics, flight attendants, planners, hangar technicians, ramp crews, upper management, flight scheduling, meteorologists, avionics, ramp controllers, gate agents, etc.? Aren’t these positions worthy of notice; don’t their lives matter?
To suggest the USA is a racist and gender-biased nation is ridiculous. Reality crushes opinion because Diversity is all around and in the most obvious places. In Politics: Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Alveda King, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Ben Carson, Tim Scott, Kristi Noem, Nikki Haley, all political bigwigs. Entertainment: Jennifer Aniston, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Denzel Washington, etc. all entertainment powerhouses. Media: Don Lemon, Laura Ingraham, Rachel Maddow, Barbara Walters, etc. These people represent both genders and different races; all exemplify the USA’s Diversity and Inclusion. In the Tokyo Olympics, Tamyra Mensah-Stock, an American black woman who won Olympic Gold in Wrestling, said, “I love representing the US. I freaking love living there.” Does that sound like someone who is discriminated against?
Why commit to a course of action that already exists? The FAA committed to Diversity in 2014. It is unclear why the FAA would commit to something it was already doing. Equally puzzling was if ERAU and United Airlines were already diverse, why publicly promise to be what they already claimed to be? Why, indeed. Perhaps they never placed Diversity over Safety. Or, perhaps, some are placating to select groups. Diversity may not be about Safety; it may be about pandering.
Per the New York Post, Fleishers, a New York City major beef supplier was forced to close after employees walked off the job. Why? These employees hung unauthorized signs for an admitted Marxist group in the company’s street-side windows; the Chief Executive Officer removed the signs because they were not approved. The entitled employees ‘felt threatened’ and walked off. How easy it was to cripple a business with politics. A company destroyed by a few signs and the selfishness of entitlement.
What does this have to do with aviation? Many know the grey area where political, religious or social ideology holds businesses captive, corrupting a business’s integrity, forcing it to take political sides. These Marxists hobble businesses like mobsters break kneecaps. Aviation is being targeted in this way by using our own people against us. The punchline is that Marxists will never respect those who surrender.
Many people view collaborating with and adopting Marxist ideologies, e.g., defunding law enforcement; attacking emergency services; the dissolving of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and dismantling of the military, as un-American, as a very real threat to our society. Many leaders of different races say that Diversity is not an American problem; professional women are distancing themselves from those who would undermine commerce and society. Are ‘woke’ businesses really standing up for Diversity … or are they kneeling to anti-Americans? What is the endgame here? Do any that deflect adverse attention towards the Military, Law Enforcement and ICE, do they deserve the support of the American people? Should alumni support schools that stir unnecessary division? Should goods and services providers who promote anti-America propaganda deserve to be patronized? If they would stand by and not support our protective services, should they be supported?
Aviation is not given to selfish agendas, petty politics or fabricated emergencies. Aviation is given to professionalism born of experience, of skill. It is dependent on entrepreneurism, competition, safety and growth. Government’s only place in aviation is to provide oversight and assure safety, not dictate how imaginary social justice should be meted out or how the aviation community conducts business. There is something inherently wrong when those we trust to improve aviation, purposely confuse issues and compromise our integrity, all the while treating us as fools. Aviation is all about people, regardless of race, gender or status, doing their best for all people. We must not allow our attention or dedication be divided by those whose political agendas undermine us.