The National Aeronautics and Space Administration – NASA – launched a small spacecraft known as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). On September 26th, per nasa.gov, DART slammed into the small orbital moonlet of the asteroid, Didymos to make the asteroid wobble, diverting it from its natural trajectory. This experiment in inertia aimed to knock Didymos out of a course it held for millions of years. Will Didymos spiral out of control? As the late actress Dene Dietrich warned, “It’s not nice to fool [with] Mother Nature!” All actions have opposite reactions – some unplanned. DART’s consequences may be years away.
What about the aviation industry’s natural path? Remember when aviation was all about … aviation? Pilots, aircraft mechanics, air traffic controllers, engineers, aviation folks, all were loyal to the dictates of each Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR), particularly Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 43, 65, 121, 135 and 145. Safety habits were the basis of instruction in Title 14 CFR Part 141 Pilot Schools, Part 142 Training Centers and Part 147 Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification came with FAR required Safety.
Safety was spelled out in these Title 14 CFRs, like Part 141, “Safe and efficient operation of aircraft”; and “Safe piloting and operating practices”; Part 142, “Appropriate safety measures.” Part 147, “… in the interests of safety.” The strictest obligation is found in Part 142, a training center’s requirements: Title 14 CFR Part 142.11 Application for Issuance or Amendment (e) states, “The Administrator may deny, suspend, revoke or terminate a certificate under this part if the Administrator finds that the applicant or the certificate holder [Training Center] (4) should not be granted a certificate if the grant would not foster aviation safety.” If Aviation Safety is sacrificed, the certificate gets revoked or terminated!
Last month a well-known aviation school announced that a military veteran accepted its Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO) position, a surrender to Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) practices. Why would Part 141, 142 or 147 schools promote DEI that polarizes students in transsexualism? Who is this CDIO? Where does his/her DEI experience come from? Is he/she being duped or are they duping us? The aviation industry cannot afford to surrender to divisive agendas that split safety efforts along any lines, especially non-existent lines. DEI kills open, serious discussion that promotes safety, debates of facts without the burden of drama.
Of course, those without aviation industry experience cheered the CDIO appointment, but these folks clearly don’t understand that DEI kills aviation safety, that DEI is an unethical distraction, a selfish journey into Me-Me-Me land. DEI even threatens their own jobs and only promotes ignorance. These folks cannot even answer the simple question: How does DEI improve aviation safety?
This is very serious and should not be taken lightly. Aviation schools, by their nature, are not – and more importantly, CAN NOT – be racist or homophobic. They rely on student dollars, not the other way around. More importantly, DEI’s distorted narrative is now introduced into aviation schools – not the easily influenced liberal arts colleges and universities – but Trade Schools, where racist or homophobic thought cannot be cultivated; where divisive principles will undermine common sense and become destructive.
The aviation industry must ask: Do we bow to new fads or hold to our obligations? To become rated, certificated and qualified, the Learning Facility must teach students to the highest level of safety. Why? Because the FARs dictate safety. Teaching anything but safety violates the FARs’ objective. The rules that the Learning Facility operates and is certificated under would be ignored.
What I find baffling is I have lived and worked in aviation all across this nation and across the globe. I’ve worked with men and women of every single race; they’ve been my boss and I’ve been theirs. Where is this lack of diversity? Did I work with gay and/or lesbian professionals? I don’t know, I never asked. It never came up. No one felt the need to share something so irrelevant to the job.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) both focus on safety in aviation. This safety focus has nothing – nor will it ever have – to do with sexual identification. Aviation schools ‘rooting out’ imaginary biases internally? How? Who sets the standards? Who stands in judgment?
Isn’t aviation Diverse enough? What about past FAA and NTSB representatives? Didn’t former FAA Administrators Jane Garvey and Marion Blakey make valuable contributions? What about NTSB Chairpersons Jennifer Homendy, Marion Blakey, Ellen Conners, Deborah Hersman, NTSB Vice-Chairpersons Carol Carmody and T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, were their works so forgettable? Did Chairman Christopher Hart’s 8 years of service mean nothing? Don’t forget the hundreds of men and women from across the racial spectrum who serve – and have served – in these organizations in upper management, non-political appointee positions, those making the decisions. Where is their lack of diversity?
Title 14 CFR §121.375 speaks specifically to qualification. It states, concerning the certificate holder or person performing maintenance for the certificate holder, “… shall have a training program to ensure that each person … is fully informed about procedures and techniques … and is competent to perform his duties.” No reference to race, gender or sexual ideology. Too many major accidents have occurred because the persons responsible were not competent. Any certificate holder, aviation school and even the FAA, must respect the focus on safety and competence and must ignore the DEI agenda.
The ‘airline-hiring-for-diversity’ question is another false flag, one I experienced as a hiring manager for a major airline. I know the realities of how hiring is done and what conditions affect diverse hiring. As a supervisor at Newark’s Liberty Airport in the late 90s, we sent out the word in all aviation venues that we were hiring aircraft mechanics. We went to job fairs in places like Atlanta, to increase access to available mechanics. Headquarters tasked us to even the racial/gender playing field. However, the qualified applicants were still 90% white, because ‘qualified’ meant all applicants had to have a minimum of five years of heavy aircraft experience, have their airframe and powerplant certificates, and – here’s the kicker – wanted to work in Newark’s Liberty airport … at night.
This presented a twofold problem: diverse choice where there was no choice, while still hiring for skill. Pickings were slim, but you still had to interview for qualifications. A supervisor doesn’t hire to maintain diversity, he/she hires for qualifications. Candidates are offered jobs because their dedicated to safety, not how they identify. I never offered a job to anyone unqualified to perform that job. If airlines, government or aviation schools begin allowing Diversity Counselors – or CDIOs – to sit in on job interviews, that is a major problem – a safety problem. Diversity never, ever equals safety. Diversity also does not follow the intent of the FARs.
The aviation industry cannot survive when pilots or mechanics fear for their jobs or can’t speak freely. Imagine a ‘victimized’ first officer ignoring the captain during a crisis or a mechanic refusing work because he/she feels ‘victimized’. Aviation cannot be safe when feelings trump facts. I never hired for the stripes on one’s skin or what bathroom one used. An aviation professional’s qualifications are/were the goal. Experience guarantees safety, so DEI is irrelevant on the aviation safety stage.
As for mechanics, feedback and discussion promote safety. DEI trades honest debate and problem-solving for entitlement. More importantly, DEI practices defy the FARs, especially when air operators and aviation schools hire into safety-specific positions. If an aviation school wants to posture and create pseudo-positions, then so be it, but the pseudo-position must never conflict with a school’s responsibility to the FARs or hinder any student from pursuing the highest levels of safety.
When businesses point to DEI hiring practices, what does it actually mean? Women and men of color are being used as a veneer for sexual ideology – not gay or lesbian tendencies – but identification with genders not assigned biologically, a mental illness called ‘gender dysphoria’. When did Americans become so obsessed with gender identification? What does gender ideology have to do with aviation?
This brings the conversation back to this aviation school’s CDIO. Is he being used? Is his career being exploited to normalize gender dysphoria? Is this aviation school using him to make their wokeness appealing to other naïve persons? Is a CDIO even a real job? If aviation schools and certificate holders find that race and gender are stumbling blocks, then consider removing race questions from applications. Require only first initials and last names on applications to avoid gender bias. Have hiring teams make application processes as random as possible. Adapt … don’t sell out.
It appears aviation school officials believe they decide who industry hires. They don’t. Pilots and mechanics hired into a certificate holder must still undergo years of training to achieve the level of quality required for air operators. Aviation schools should teach safe practices for industry to build upon, as dictated by the FARs. Aviation schools don’t qualify any aviation candidate. The FAA tests and certifies, whether through a Designated Pilot Examiner or Designated Maintenance Examiner – DPE and DME, respectively – who are qualified by the FAA to represent the FAA.
Certifications with unproven, unsafe practices, such as DEI processes, are violations of the FARs. These aviation schools must prove that by adopting these DEI practices, safety remains equal to or exceeds that called out for by the FARs. In this there can be no confusion, the injection of unapproved practices into a certificate holder’s hiring, recruiting or training processes, whether for an aviation school, air operator, repair station, etc. should spur immediate FAA auditing and surveillance activity without compromise.
DEI wraps itself in decency, but blaming others for one’s misfortunes isn’t noble, it’s selfish. DEI cultivates a deceptive agenda with political distractions, e.g., men in women’s sports and transvestite story time, while the most qualified are alienated for the most entitled. The truth is, everyone faces discrimination at some point, no matter what your gender or race are. Grownups don’t need others to fight their battles; they don’t blame others or create problems; they confront adversity head on.
NASA’s DART demonstrated what happens when a blunted force acts on an object to offset its course. NASA also revealed a second way the DART’s purpose is like the ignoring of Safety. They both result in a large smoking hole.