The DEI Rot In The Airline Industry Is Way Worse Than You Think

A United Airlines aircraft on the tarmac at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in Newark, New Jersey, US, on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024. Hundreds of flights were grounded across the US on Sunday from a pair of winter storms that left more than a foot of snow in New York's Hudson Valley and sparked blizzard warnings across the Great Plains. Photographer: Yuki Iwamura/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Yuki Iwamura/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In December of 2022, a Boeing 777 operated by United Airlines took off from Hawaii in heavy rain. About a minute into the flight, the aircraft plummeted towards the ocean. It came just 750 feet from hitting the water at high-speed, which almost certainly would have killed all 280 people on board. In the end, the pilots saved the aircraft by a matter of seconds.

For more than two months, no one heard about this incident. It was as if it had never happened. By the time mainstream news reports began appearing in February, more than two months later, United assured the public that the FAA had been notified and that an investigation would be forthcoming. Watch:

Notice how there’s not much curiosity from the anchor about why this incident took so long for the airline to disclose to the public. There’s also not much of an explanation about what happened. It’s implied that the pilots may have made a mistake, because they’re getting more “training.” But what mistake did they make exactly?

Late last year, we got something of an official answer. It turns out that, according to the NTSB, the captain called for the flaps to be retracted to the 5 degree setting, which is a normal setting for takeoff. But the first officer thought the captain had called for a 15 degree setting, so he selected that one. That misunderstanding caused a major problem because the plane was going far too fast for that flap setting.

To avoid damaging the plane, the captain started to slow the aircraft while he tried to diagnose the problem. Instead of realizing his mistake, the first officer suggested that maybe the instruments were malfunctioning. The two pilots continued to troubleshoot the problem, and in the process they became disoriented as the plane quickly lost altitude. The pilots’ confusion continued until the plane blared an alarm telling them they were about to die if they didn’t apply maximum power and pull up.

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Incredibly, both pilots of that flight are still employed by United Airlines. They nearly killed everyone on board through their incompetence, but that’s not disqualifying apparently. Beyond some basic information about their flying experience, we still don’t know much about these two pilots. For example, we know that the first officer has a total of 5,300 hours of flying experience, which is respectable for his position. But at the time of the incident, he only had 120 hours in the Boeing 777. And according to a report by Tucker Carlson last year, which cited an anonymous source at United shortly after this near-catastrophe took place, this first officer was a “new hire” at the airline. Could that lack of experience have played a role? And more to the point, could either of the pilot’s identity have played a role in their hiring — or the airline’s refusal to terminate them after they almost steered a passenger jet into the ocean?

We don’t know. We’re not allowed to know because the federal government and the airline don’t want us to know any more information about the identity of these pilots, or any of their pilots who are involved in near-disasters. There is an ongoing information blackout about these kinds of events, and it’s deliberate. But in their various public statements and press releases, United Airlines has made it very clear that they’re mainly interested in hiring pilots on the basis of skin color and gender, rather than competence. In fact, they participated in a Vice documentary back in 2022 about their DEI initiatives. Watch:

So a couple of years ago, United decided that 50% of its new pilot recruits are going to be women or people of color. They’re promoting flight attendants to make that happen. Later on in that Vice documentary, it’s suggested that the point of this initiative is to alleviate the pilot shortage. 

How’s that going? A few days ago, the conservative commentator Ashley St. Clair posed a few questions to United, based on some information she had received. Here’s what she wrote: “On July 29, a United plane was nearly totaled after a hard landing. Who was flying that aircraft? Was the co-pilot a former flight attendant who was FIRED and then rehired through United’s DEI program despite being on a list to not return to United? Am I correct that this individual failed multiple trainings including simulator training? Am I also correct that United has covered up this DEI disaster and many others?”

United didn’t reply, which you may have noticed is something of a pattern. No one thinks we deserve to know anything about what’s going on in the cockpits of the planes that we’re flying in. You’re just supposed to assume everything’s fine, and that the flight attendants are transforming into master pilots at United’s training academy.

But the more you look into the specifics of United’s diversity initiatives, the less solid that assumption seems to be. It turns out that United partners with several historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, as a way of recruiting pilots. One of the popular statistics-focused accounts on X, which uses the name i/o, noticed that two of the schools that United has decided to team up with — Delaware State and Elizabeth City State University — are, “in the bottom 2% of all undergraduate institutions in the United States.” Elizabeth State, the account noted, “had the distinction in the 1980s of being the only university in which the average SAT math score was lower than that score which would have been produced if a person had guessed ‘B’ on all the multiple choice questions on the test.”

That’s a pretty sobering statistic, especially if you plan on flying United anytime soon. To be fair to United, they don’t just recruit from HBCUs with no standards. As a writer who goes by the pseudonym Peachy Keenan found, United also recruits from an organization called “Sisters of the Skies.” Yes, this is an organization that sends pilots to United Airlines, and their acronym is literally “S.O.S.” At least you can rest assured that they have a sense of humor at United, as your plane is plummeting to the ground. And it gets better. Watch:

“If they see it, they can be it,” at least as long as their parents can pay for flight school. That’s the message. Again, this is an organization that’s training the pilots that are flying commercial aircraft. This isn’t training, really. It’s like a kindergarten classroom. At no point are these people concerned about safety or competence. They want to put black women in the cockpit because they want to inspire more black women, and that makes them feel good — not because they think they’re getting smarter or better pilots. 

This is not some P.R. stunt. United is actually following through with this. According to United’s latest corporate diversity report, of the 51 students that graduated from United’s first class of pilots, “nearly 80 percent were women or people of color.” So they vastly exceeded their target of 50%. They’ve almost completely eliminated white men in their training classes. We’re led to believe that this is progress. Pay no attention to the planes plummeting towards the ocean or smashing into the runway.

To be clear, this is a problem that extends far beyond United Airlines. They’re maybe the most vocal about their DEI practices, but every airline does this.

A few years ago, in February of 2019, an Amazon Air cargo plane — a Boeing 767 operated by a contractor called Atlas Air — plummeted into Trinity Bay near Houston. The reason for that crash? The first officer, Conrad Aska, accidentally pressed a button giving the plane a massive jolt in thrust, which pitched the nose up. Instead of reacting calmly to the situation, he panicked, and forced the control column all the way down. The plane broke through the clouds and disintegrated on impact with the water.


Conrad Aska never should have been flying that plane. Prior to joining Atlas Air and Amazon, he had worked for seven different airlines, where he developed a reputation for pressing random buttons in emergencies. He would always panic in the simulator and just lose all situational awareness. But airlines kept putting him in the cockpit anyway. That’s why, in its final report on the crash, the N.T.S.B. cited, “systemic deficiencies in the aviation industry’s selection and performance measurement practices, which failed to address the first officer’s aptitude-related deficiencies and maladaptive stress response.”

What explains those “systemic deficiencies”? Well, we can’t say for sure. We do know that Conrad Aska was born in the Caribbean nation of Antigua. He was a black man, which certainly checks some diversity boxes. And we also know that Atlas Air’s website is full of platitudes about the importance of hiring candidates based on certain characteristics, like their race and gender. So, we can come to some unauthorized theories here about why Conrad Aska was flying that plane. None of them are encouraging.

This isn’t to single out United or Amazon or Atlas. This kind of diversity hiring is endemic in the aviation industry. Keenan says she’s received several messages from pilots warning her of the danger in recent days. Here’s one of them: “Every airline has an informal pilot assignment program that makes sure their unfireable DEI problem children are always paired with adult supervision. These programs are maintained by aging boomers who are immune to the kool-aid. As these guys retire … every flight will be a roll of the dice.”

This rampant DEI mandate doesn’t just extend to airlines. A few weeks ago on this show, when I predicted that we’re due for a major air disaster soon, I talked mainly about DEI-based hiring in air traffic control. There’s also a push to “diversify” the ranks of companies that manufacture and install various airline parts. That includes companies like Spirit AeroSystems (no relation to Spirit Airlines), which manufactured that door that blew out on the Alaska Airlines flight over Portland the other day. Like United and Atlas Air, Spirit AeroSystems’ website is full of DEI propaganda. In fact, just days before the door blew out on the plane, Spirit executives were posting eagerly on LinkedIn about their next big diversity event.

Meanwhile the company knew that they had more serious problems. Shortly before their door fell off a passenger plane mid-flight, Spirit AeroSystems was hit with a class action lawsuit in federal court. In the lawsuit, investors alleged that Spirit was aware of systemic defects in its products, but ignored them and falsified documents to hide them. In one instance, the lawsuit alleges, “auditors repeatedly found torque wrenches in mechanics’ toolboxes that were not properly calibrated. This was potentially a serious problem, as a torque wrench that is out of calibration may not torque fasteners to the correct levels, resulting in over-tightening or under-tightening that could threaten the structural integrity of the parts in question.”

But the mechanics didn’t want to comply with the audit. According to the lawsuit, “Some mechanics would not even let auditors take such out-of-calibration tools, locking toolboxes or yanking them back out of the auditors’ hands to prevent the audit.”

Obviously, if these accusations are even remotely true, they reveal some very concerning problems at a company that makes critical components for passenger planes. So how did things get so bad? It turns out that, according to the lawsuit, Spirit fired roughly 50% of its workforce in response to the COVID lockdowns. They terminated many “experienced mechanics” in response to the economic consequences of those shutdowns, according to the suit. How did Spirit decide who to retain after these completely unnecessary lockdowns? How did they decide who to hire after the lockdowns ended? Why did they keep the engineers who apparently don’t understand how to calibrate their torque wrenches?

If you take Spirit AeroSystems at its word, they probably hired a bunch of “diverse” mechanics. That’s what all of their marketing materials and investor pitches would dictate. But the truth is, at this point, we can’t be more specific than that. Is it possible that a crack team of mechanics manufactured the doors on all these United and Alaska Air planes? As of now, yes it is. Maybe the fault lies not with Spirit, but with Boeing, which has been in decline ever since it made the decision to to outsource key elements of its business to overseas programmers and penny-pinchers in Chicago. Maybe Boeing installed the door improperly.

But at a certain point, we’re entitled to some answers. We shouldn’t have to guess or speculate about this. We should know the qualifications and the identities of the people manufacturing and installing these airplane doors, just like we should know the qualifications and identities of the United pilots who are skimming the water with Boeing passenger jets. We shouldn’t have any doubts about their competence. We’re the ones who just funded the bailouts for all of these companies. We’re the ones risking our lives to board their planes.

And, yes, the situation is that dire. Last night I put out a general invitation to commercial airline pilots to message me — anonymously, if they prefer — to tell me their firsthand experience of how DEI is impacting their profession. I’m still going through all of the messages — I received a lot of them — but what I can tell you is that, as I sit here today, I am not at all eager to ever board a plane again. The airline industry is in the process of actively making itself less competent and reliable. To an incredibly dangerous extent. When it comes to the pilots, the old guard — the masters of their profession, who were hired and promoted based on their skill alone — are still mostly in control. But not for long.

Meanwhile the airline industry is hiding the truth and lying about the dangers that we face. Like the COVID cultists who wrecked the economy, the DEI cultists desperately don’t want you thinking about the downstream effects of their ideology. And as a result, every time an airplane takes off in this country, we’re getting closer and closer to discovering those downstream effects the hard way.

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