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Texas Representative Jasmine Crockett proudly announced that she successfully secured funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in an aviation bill aimed at recruiting more minority pilots. The House and Senate both passed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bill, granting the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) authority for the next five years to enhance aviation safety regulations.

Crockett revealed that she, along with fellow lawmakers, discreetly allocated resources to boost the representation of black and Hispanic pilots amidst what she described as a hostile environment towards DEI efforts during an interview on “Roland Martin Unfiltered.”

“We were also able to get monumental legislation into the FAA Reauthorization Act that really flew under the radar, thank God,” Crockett said. “But this was funding to make sure that hopefully we can increase the number of African Americans and Hispanics that are entering aviation which can be very expensive, but can obviously be very lucrative. So we set up a situation where basically there will be full rides for those attending grant HCBUs as well as HSIs to go into aviation. And in this crazy anti-DEI environment, we were able to get that done.”

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The relaxation of qualification standards for hiring new pilots by airlines has resulted in an increase in emergency landings and serious mechanical problems. In an effort to promote diversity, many airlines have adopted DEI hiring practices to recruit more individuals from diverse backgrounds, including people of color and women, to become pilots.

According to a report published by the airline, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby stated in January that they are aiming for 50% of their pilot class graduates to be women or people of color. Similarly, Alaska Airlines highlighted a 3.7% increase in racial diversity in March 2023 and has set a goal for 30% “racial diversity” representation by 2025. To support their diversity goals, United Airlines has established a flight school with the aim of training 5,000 aspiring pilots with limited experience by 2030. They intend for half of their students to be women or people of color. However, one of their planes had to make an emergency landing in late February due to a wing malfunction.

In February 2023, Southwest Airlines reduced the required number of engine turbine hours for new pilots by half, from 1,000 hours to 500 hours, as reported by the Dallas Morning News. Delta Airlines made an announcement in 2021 that they no longer require pilots to have a four-year college degree. Instead, applicants must undergo initial training and accumulate 1,500 hours of flight time to qualify as pilots. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently investigating an incident involving a separate Boeing 737-9 Max operated by Alaska Airlines, where a door plug detached during a flight in early January.

However, analysts have cautioned that prioritizing DEI initiatives over stringent qualifications poses a potential risk to the safety of passengers.

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