Is The Air Traffic Control Hiring Scandal Evidence Of Broader Affirmative Action Failures?

Authored by Duane Norman via Free Market Shooter blog,

In a recent segment on Fox News, Tucker Carlson took the FAA to task for putting “diversity over safety” in its hiring practices:

Starting in 2014 the FAA added a biographical questionnaire to the application process. Applicants with a lower aptitude in science got preference over applicants who had scored excellent in science. Applicants who had been unemployed for the previous three years got more points than licensed pilots got. In other words, the FAA actively searched for unqualified air traffic controllers. That is insane and they knew it was insane when they did it but they did it anyway.

Today we obtained new information, it is an internal email written by an executive at the firm that devised the FAA’s biographical questionnaire. In that email, the executive admits that the test he devised has nothing to do with finding the best air traffic controllers. If you want good air traffic controllers, find people with experience, that was his advice. The FAA ignored this and used the biographical screen anyway. They didn’t care about finding the best air traffic controllers. Compared to diversity, your safety meant nothing to them.

Most of the segment consisted of an interview with former ATC Michael Pearson, who detailed his lawsuit against the FAA...

...but the segment itself didn’t offer any external confirmation beyond Carlson’s word.  Unsurprisingly, Carlson was correct – the FAA’s own website clearly says so…

The FAA has made an historic commitment to transform the agency into a more diverse and inclusive workplace that reflects, understands, and relates to the diverse customers we serve. To meet this goal and satisfy the requirements of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission MD-715, the Administrator tasked the Office of the Assistant Administrator for Civil Rights to conduct barrier analyses of the Air Traffic Control Specialist (ATCS) Centralized Hiring Process, Aviation Safety Inspectors, and Airway Transportation Systems Specialists.

The first study, completed in 2013, is on the ATCS series. These reports reflect a collaborative effort undertaken by the FAA’s Office of Civil Rights, Office of Human Resources, and the Air Traffic Organization. The primary purpose of these reports is to identify and analyze potential barriers to equal employment opportunities within the ATCS Centralized Hiring Process and to offer solutions to establish the foundation for improving the process.

A second study was conducted in 2015 and addressed potential barriers and solutions in the hiring process for aviation safety inspectors.

…and three years ago, The Wall Street Journal blew the horn on how the FAA itself stated that its affirmative action process, the “biographical questionnaire” (BQ), not only was inferior to the existing AT-SAT exam, the agency disqualified prior experience in its hiring criteria:

“The FAA says it created the BQ to promote diversity among its workforce,” reported Adam Shapiro of Fox Business. “All air traffic control applicants are required to take it. Those who pass are deemed eligible and those who fail are ruled ineligible.”

The FAA would not tell Fox Business what the biographical test is trying to measure and did not return my phone calls. But an FAA report released in October, “Using Biodata to Select Air Traffic Controllers,” concluded that the AT-SAT exam, not the biographical questionnaire, is a much better predictor of performance. “The biodata items assessed did little to improve our ability to select applicants most likely” to complete training successfully, said the study. “If biodata are to be used to select controllers, additional research is required to identify those biodata items that will add to the prediction of controller training performance over and above the effect of AT-SAT score.”

After the FAA changed its screening process in 2014, thousands of applicants who were already in the pipeline—people who had obtained an FAA-accredited degree, taken the AT-SAT exam and had been designated “well-qualified” to become air-traffic controllers—were told by the government that they would have to start the process again. “But this time, when they applied for a job, their college degrees and previous military experience would mean nothing,” reported Fox Business. “They would now compete with thousands of people the agency calls ‘off the street hires’; anyone who wants to, can walk in off the street without any previous training and apply for an air traffic control job.”

Any affirmative action program that involves experience being meaningless to the hiring process will seldom end well...

...but one would think one of the last places that would disqualify college and military experience in the name of “diversity” would be an air traffic control center.

If and when an incident occurs, undoubtedly the blame will shift away from policies that led to unqualified hires, and land squarely on whatever command the incident occured under.  This is precisely what happened in the case of Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, as Free Market Shooter has already covered:

So the facts support a different conclusion; this was clearly an affirmative action hire, which resulted in a poorly-trained and unqualified officer winding up on the force.  You might be stunned, but you should hardly be surprised to learn that Hodges quickly changed her tune about Noor following the incident…

At a press conference to respond to Saturday’s fatal officer-involved shooting in southwest Minneapolis’ Fulton neighborhood, Mayor Betsy Hodges said she was “heartsick and deeply disturbed” by the incident that left a woman dead.

…but that didn’t stop her from blaming the incident on the policies of her police chief and forcing her out.  Notably, the chief might have gotten her own job as a result of Hodges’ “commitment to diversity” on the police force:

The chief’s departure came at the request of Mayor Betsy Hodges, who promptly nominated Assistant Chief Medaria Arradondo, a 28-year veteran of the force, to replace Harteau. The move ended Harteau’s 4½-year run as the first woman and first openly gay person to head the department.

Additionally, when Free Market Shooter asked if the US Navy crashes in 2017 were a result of “hacks”, some questioned whether or not affirmative action played a role in allowing unqualified seamen to operate Navy vessels:

Could it be that simple complacency and/or lack of proper training has resulted in these incidents? Given the professionalism of our military, that seems unlikely, but it wouldn’t be the first (and almost certainly won’t be the last) time it has happened.

It has to be noted that many of the crashed vessels had been on extended deployments, with crews that were undoubtedly overworked – conditions that could make an incident all but inevitable.  The Navy itself blamed “a lack of adherence to sound navigational practices” and “complacency, over-confidence and lack of procedural compliance” for the incidents.  But, given the Obama administration’s conduct with the FAA, affirmative action leading to poor seamanship and command of Navy vessels cannot be ruled out.

Whether it is policing streets, operating Navy vessels, or managing the nation’s air traffic, the standards for employees with top-tier responsibilities needs to be impeccably high – poor hires cannot be permitted to “slip through” the cracks.  While it seems unlikely that this has occurred in the US Navy, police forces have clearly relaxed and “fast-tracked” hiring in an effort to onboard more “minority” candidates, highlighted by the aforementioned case of Mohamed Noor.  If the Obama administration has relaxed hiring standards in the nation’s air traffic control system, something must be done to confirm the wrong individuals aren’t on the job...

...before it’s too late.


Heros Bastiat Thu, 06/21/2018 - 11:50 Permalink

Something like 20% of the federal government is black, whereas they are something like 13% of the population.

The Federal Government started implementing EEO in the '70's, and it was downhill from there.  Aside from the fact that there were explicit and implicit quotas, there was an entire department whose only purpose was to promote black people and feminists.  Now this extends to every recognized victim group.  This EEO department also has mostly highly paid employees, starting at GS-9 and going up, where as a simple technical project management department would have loads of GS-5 and GS-7's.

For a conservative white male working in the federal government life is hell.  First of all there is the constant discrimination in promotions, pay raises and bonuses.  But then there is also the general tendency of black people, especially state employees, to avoid work and bitch about everything.  Throw in a few jewish supervisors and the EEO department, and no self respecting conservative white male can remain in the government.

That government employees vote over 90% democrat is no surprise then.

In reply to by Bastiat

847328_3527 El Vaquero Thu, 06/21/2018 - 12:33 Permalink

It's sickening to see this stuff. I saw an ad for my old STEM science department for a new chairman with the phrase, "Minority and underrepresented groups strongly recommended to apply."

Hey! How about "Strongly recommend highly qualified candidates apply?!"


This is another example of why I give ZERO to all of my former schools. Screw them. let them get funding from BLM and Soros.

In reply to by El Vaquero

mtl4 Blythes Master Thu, 06/21/2018 - 15:21 Permalink

The FAA has made an historic commitment to transform the agency into a more diverse and inclusive workplace that reflects, understands, and relates to the diverse customers we serve.

WTF are these guys smoking anyway, the FAA is a safety administration not a bunch of customer service reps!  Time for Trump to do some serious house cleaning or it's time to get your gun Annie Oakley because civil war's coming to town.

In reply to by Blythes Master

BarkingCat directaction Thu, 06/21/2018 - 16:52 Permalink

People miss that point.

Trump only gets a pass until the time he is aware of this. After that point, he is responsible for that problem. 

Once aware, he should direct which ever department secretary who oversees the FAA to have a conversation with the head of the FAA to learn where this policy came from.

Regardless of the source of the policy, it should be reversed immediately. 

Next, if the source of the policy was inside the FAA, that person and anyone above should be fired immediately. 

If the source of the policy was someone above the FAA, an analysis should be made to determine whether there was any resistance to the policy. If there was no resistance then the senior management should probably be fired as they have proven that they do not have public safety as the main priority.

In reply to by directaction

Decoherence Heros Thu, 06/21/2018 - 13:14 Permalink

There is no other way to solve the IQ gap. You just have to flat out steal the jobs away from white males.  That’s liberalism in a nutshell, using the government to legally steal on behalf of the less capable and intelligent.  This is especially a problem in jobs like aviation, where it takes a certain IQ to do the job.  You don't have to be a genius, but average intelligence won't cut it.  So how else do you get lower intelligent people into these jobs?  I watched this first hand in aviation.  Females especially will get hand walked through simulator evaluations, and almost double the sim sessions to pass a checkride.  Advancements in technology is the ONLY reason more deaths haven't occurred.  If they keep it up, even the most advanced technology will fail to fill the mental void.  


"In 1959, AAMD set the IQ threshold for mental retardation at < 85. The civil rights movement of the next decade forced psychologists to rethink this boundary, because half the African American population fell below it. In 1973, responding to this concern, AAMD (by then AAMR) changed the threshold for retardation from IQ < 85 to IQ < 70. The boundary moved south by one standard deviation! The proportion of blacks below the threshold instantly dropped from about 50 percent to 12 percent. Subsequent refinements made it still more difficult to meet the criteria for retardation."  - The government tries to explain this away through environmental factors, but if you do your research, at best only 20% of IQ can be reasonably attributed to environment.  

And then there's the gender IQ gap that turns feminists into seething animals, although not as large of a gap.  


In reply to by Heros

junction Decoherence Thu, 06/21/2018 - 14:16 Permalink

The next time you are in a hospital emergency room, check out the  resident physicians working there.  Diversity hiring at its best.  Hiring white males does not automatically improve the competence of your workforce.  Hiring people on the basis of family connections ("Old School"), being ghetto blacks or women who place their gender as qualification number one is the way to Third World country status.

In reply to by Decoherence

Son of Loki junction Thu, 06/21/2018 - 14:22 Permalink

I'll ask for an Asian-American doctor:


Advocates also point to a 2009 study by a Princeton University professor that concluded an Asian American applicant would need to score 140 points higher than a white applicant on the 1600-point SAT, 270 points higher than a Latino applicant and 450 points higher than a black applicant to have the same odds of being admitted to 10 elite colleges that he examined.


In reply to by junction

Decoherence Son of Loki Thu, 06/21/2018 - 14:41 Permalink

Another white privilege assertion from the Sacramento Bee?  That’s choice. Put that assertion in contrast with the comment you were responding to.  The Chinese have already infiltrated American universities, because it's a business and they have money to spend.  Let's see if they still want to be here in 10-20 years when we've descended into a liberal 3rd world shit hole.  

In reply to by Son of Loki

Decoherence ReturnOfDaMac Thu, 06/21/2018 - 14:56 Permalink

Daddy's mean Asians with money?  Maybe you didn't get the memo, but you're talking about .5% of the population in the U.S. now.  Thanks to our corrupt politicians and greedy CEOs of the 90s, those rich "daddys" are Chinese now.  I have no problem with Asian doctors, if they arrived on merit.  Equally stupid is hiring people in aviation based on political agendas vs. competence, and the consequences are potentially more immediate.    

In reply to by ReturnOfDaMac

waspwench Decoherence Thu, 06/21/2018 - 16:15 Permalink

My white, male internist is retiring and I am having trouble finding a replacement.   It is becoming difficult to find a white doctor and they are usually from second tier medical schools because "minorities" are given preference at top tier schools.   That being the case we have to choose from Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Jewish because that's what is available and they are usually competent.   Black doctors are affirmative action students and Indians are often foreign trained and incompetent (also Indian doctors are difficult to communicate with - their egos get in their way.)   White female doctors are sometimes available.

In short, white men are being frozen out of the professions, out of the "best" schools and out of public life as far as it is possible to do so.   We need to find a new country.

In reply to by Decoherence

IronForge Son of Loki Thu, 06/21/2018 - 16:14 Permalink

Plenty of dumbasses there as well. 

You're better off looking into the Prospective MD's Schools, Internships, Med Site Ratings, and Hospital Dept Ratings when applicable.  If, for instance, you're looking for a Geriatrician, you may consider looking at Hospitals that have highly rated Neuro Depts in your Region as well.


In reply to by Son of Loki

Decoherence junction Thu, 06/21/2018 - 14:28 Permalink

That is my point.  People should be hired on ability to do the job, not the race or gender.  The problem for liberals is, when people are hired on ability, it vastly skews who gets hired and destroys their claims we’re all equal.  Since the goal of government is to get as many people paying taxes as possible, women staying home and raising children doesn't work for them.  They'd rather turn women into tax slaves and take in immigrants to keep up the population growth.  However, since the sociopaths that run our government only care about themselves, they don't give a shit how it impacts future generations as long as they can steal off the backs of their human slaves now.     

In reply to by junction

Faeriedust Decoherence Thu, 06/21/2018 - 20:01 Permalink

IQ is a very slippery concept.  Ultimately, it's based on social expectations -- what should an "average" person know or understand?  But that will ALWAYS depend on what that average person's environment/experience has been.  People who grow up around reading and writing not only read and write well; they know the things that you can learn by reading.  People who grow up running around construction sites and helping Dad do carpentry know the kind of things you learn by fitting pieces of wood together, like how to measure and do basic arithmetic and what sizes boards and studs come in and which way a pulley turns.  We aren't born knowing those things according to our IQs.  If you're smart you can figure them out, but it takes more time (and all IQ tests are timed) than if you know them because you've lived them.  Some IQ tests are based on reading/writing, like the Wechsler -- women do better on these.  Some, like the ASWAB, are based on construction and engineering skills -- the highest-scoring 10% of my upper-class white high school barely scored between 110-120 on that.  And then you have the Progressive Matrices, which kills everybody except incipient mathematical geniuses, because it's totally abstract with no referents to ANYTHING that any normal person ever learns or thinks about.  Many people who score 140 on Wechsler will barely score 120 on PM and maybe only 100 on  ASWAB.  But some people who score 130 on ASWAB can't score 110 on Wechsler, and the same for the PM.

So when you talk about comparing black IQ to white IQ you're really comparing apples to oranges. Most whites are totally at loss thrown into a typical black environment, whether in the Baltimore ghetto or the capital of Nigeria.  After four years in a state Department of Social Services (85% black female) I've learned to tread water, but both the jokes and the unconscious assumptions go right over my head.  There's a distinct difference -- it's appalling the level to which the natives are incapable of thinking through the most rudimentary problems for themselves -- but I'm reluctant to call it "intelligence".  Much of it is not exactly "laziness", either; more a profound unwillingness to take any kind of responsibility for fear of being blamed for a mistake.  And an expectation that they MUST consult with at least three people on any decision, no matter how trivial.  This of course slows work to the pace of molasses in Antarctica -- but contrast that IT, which is run by white males, has recently attempted to "upgrade" three major systems all at the same time.  Now none of them work, and everyone spends four hours of every work day either waiting for the email, the printers, or the main database to work, or consulting with IT on the particular way in which the system is dysfunctional.  And I repeat -- IT is run by white males, who are sufficiently confident to attempt doing something that  obviously they have no idea how to do. 

In reply to by Decoherence

PlayMoney Heros Thu, 06/21/2018 - 17:55 Permalink

Back in 91 I had a black dude tell me I was at a disadvantage being a white male. In ATC. You aren't kidding. ATC is vastly white and mostly male and they are trying to force diversity. I watched an AA lady get her 10 year pin having never fully certified anywhere. They were scared to death to fire her. Don't remember if she was the one but some lady filed a grievance after failing out of the screen.... saying the instructors cologne was too strong. And won. No shit.

In reply to by Heros

PlayMoney pods Thu, 06/21/2018 - 18:01 Permalink

As a former ATC dude, I trained some like that pods. One AA dude, real nice guy, but scared the shit out of me regularly. A pilot I knew would tune in the frequency and if he was working... would fly around the airspace. Tried their best not to wash him out, and give me premature grey hair, but didn't make it.

In reply to by pods

FireBrander Bastiat Thu, 06/21/2018 - 11:50 Permalink

Having put multiple kids through the public system...I know the reason we are falling behind in Math and's because we employ people that have degrees in those fields, have a mastery of the subject matter...BUT CANNOT TEACH THAT KNOWLEDGE to teenagers!

We should stop hiring people with Math degrees...and start hiring TEACHERS that specialize in TEACHING mathematics to persons of Middle to High School age!

If it wasn't for my "math brain", my kids would have been doomed...time and again, my kids have been near tears confused with math...the I show them and they get it 100% almost instantly...straight A's in math all the way through the system for all of them..."mission accomplished".

In reply to by Bastiat

Bastiat FireBrander Thu, 06/21/2018 - 12:15 Permalink

Well done!  I was working on a calculus problem while bartending (on a slow night in a slow motel bar).  A guy in his 20s came in.  Shook his head and said: i could never do that.  I told him I'd buy him a drink if I couldn't teach how to solve an algebra problem in 10 minutes.  He left without the free drink but with a revised idea of what he could do. 

I taught my daughter: it's a game, it's a puzzle; like any game or puzzle it's fun to solve.  Don't get infected by defeatist whiners or burned out hack teachers

In reply to by FireBrander