Hamilton: Update: FAA skin-color discrimination
June 12, 2018
"Central View" readers may recall two previous columns on the subject of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) discriminating against the graduates of four-year aviation universities and colleges: June 15, 2015, "FAA Hiring: Fly the diversity-friendly skies," and May 14, 2018, "Class action: Justice for the friendly skies?"
A class-action lawsuit filed by the Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF): a non-profit, public-interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system, just got a boost from Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Recently, Judge Friedrich upheld a key component of the MSLF's lawsuit against the FAA. The ruling allows the lawsuit to go forward.
Back story: For several decades, the FAA and dozens of colleges used the College Training Initiative program (CTI) to prepare students with degrees in aviation for the Air Traffic Controllers' written examination. In 2014, the Obama Administration told 3,500 CTI graduates that their test scores on the Air Traffic Training and Selection Test (AT-SAT) were no longer valid. Moreover, they could not take the FAA's written exam until they passed a Biographical Questionnaire (BQ). The BQ, which contained questions relating to playing mid-night basketball and other urban activities, was designed to discriminate in favor of applicants with urban backgrounds, e.g. people of color.
Despite his perfect score on the AT-SAT, the lead plaintiff in the MSLF lawsuit (who happens to be white) was told he failed the BQ and, therefore, was no longer eligible for employment as an air traffic controller.
This column, however, is not a partisan attack against the Obama Administration. Unbelievably, the U.S. Department of Transportation, which is now led by President Trump appointee, Elaine L. Chao, the wife of Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, is opposing the MSLF lawsuit. Apparently, Secretary Chao wants the 3,500 aviation college graduates to remain disqualified from employment by the FAA, which is under her department.
But this case is about more than the Obama (and now the Trump) Administrations' discrimination to favor one race over another. This lawsuit is also about aviation safety. If you or your loved ones fly on the airlines or fly their own aircraft, surely it is in your interest for the FAA to be able to select those who have trained for four years to become air traffic controllers and passed the AT-SAT, rather than be limited to hiring from a pool of people (of any color) with no or little previous association with the highly technical field of air traffic control.
Maybe President Trump should just pick up the phone or Tweet Secretary Chao and tell her to stop a FAA hiring practice that discriminates on the basis of skin color. On the Fox News Channel, Tucker Carlson has blasted the Trump Administration several times about this outrage. Apparently, the Trump White House has yet to get the word. For those interested in aviation safety, the title of the MSLF lawsuit is: Brigida vs. U.S. Department of Transportation. The full case can be found via an Internet search. The MSLF can be contacted at: http://www.mountainstateslegal.org. We report. You decide.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame. In 2015, he was named an Outstanding Alumnus of the University of Nebraska. Dr. Hamilton is the author of The Wit and Wisdom of William Hamilton: the Sage of Sheepdog Hill, Pegasus Imprimis Press (2017). "Central View," can also be seen at: http://www.central-view.com.