Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

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FAA’s diversity push includes focus on hiring people with ‘severe intellectual’ and ‘psychiatric’ disabilities

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The Federal Aviation Administration 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. 

“Targeted disabilities are those disabilities that the Federal government, as a matter of policy, has identified for special emphasis in recruitment and hiring,” the FAA’s website states. “They include hearing, vision, missing extremities, partial paralysis, complete paralysis, epilepsy, severe intellectual disability, psychiatric disability and dwarfism.”

The initiative is part of the FAA’s “Diversity and Inclusion” hiring plan, which claims “diversity is integral to achieving FAA’s mission of ensuring safe and efficient travel across our nation and beyond.” The FAA’s website shows the agency’s guidelines on diversity hiring were last updated on March 23, 2022. 

The FAA, which is overseen by Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s Department of Transportation, is a government agency charged with regulating civil aviation and employs roughly 45,000 people. 

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All eyes have been on the FAA and airline industry in recent days, after a plug door on a Boeing 737 Max 9 blew out during an Alaska Airlines flight on Jan. 5. The FAA grounded all 737 MAX 9 planes after the incident, and is carrying out an “extensive inspection” and maintenance work.

The FAA added it would increase its oversight of Boeing following the incident, including auditing Boeing’s 737 Max 9 jetliner production line and companies that supply parts to the airline manufacturer. 

Following the incident, social media commenters and public figures have charged that airlines and airline manufacturers’ emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives has made flying less safe. 

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“Do you want to fly in an airplane where they prioritized DEI hiring over your safety?,” tech billionaire Elon Musk wrote on X last week. “That is actually happening.”

“The DEI Rot In The Airline Industry Is Way Worse Than You Think,” Daily Wire commentator Matt Walsh wrote in an op-ed last week. 

Critics of such commentary have pushed back on the argument that prioritizing DEI has made traveling less safe, with civil rights groups slamming Musk, for example, for the “abhorrent and pathetic” tweet. 

On the FAA’s website, the agency claims that people with “severe” mental and physical disabilities are the most under-represented segment of the federal workforce.

“Because diversity is so critical, FAA actively supports and engages in a variety of associations, programs, coalitions and initiatives to support and accommodate employees from diverse communities and backgrounds. Our people are our strength, and we take great care in investing in and valuing them as such,” the FAA states. 

Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, chairman of Do No Harm – a group of health care professionals, medical students and policymakers working to “protect health care from a radical, divisive, and discriminatory ideology” – told Fox News Digital that similar to the medical field, the aviation industry has an obligation to protect its travelers. 

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“The aviation industry has a responsibility for traveler safety just as the health care industry has a responsibility for patient safety. These responsibilities outweigh other factors when considering applicants to work in those fields. People with disabilities who can successfully complete the task should never face discrimination,” said Goldfarb, a retired professor and the former associate dean for curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. 

“Unfortunately,” Goldfarb said, identity politics is “creating opportunities for so-called oppressed groups by lowering standards for entry into those fields and thereby endangering the safety of those which it’s designed to serve. Some endeavors simply do not lend themselves to identity politics,” he added. 

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Fox News Digital reached out to the FAA for details on what jobs people with disabilities would fulfill at the agency, but did not receive a reply Sunday. The website does state that some managers can hire disabled people and veterans through an “On-the-Spot hiring process,” providing required documentation is submitted. 

The FAA also details that employees with disabilities will be provided “reasonable accommodation” on the job.

Reasonable accommodation at the FAA “ensures that employees with disabilities have access to accommodations that suit their needs. This can include modifications made to existing facilities or special equipment,” according to the website. 

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