By WILLIAM HAMILTON
Satire: Just as your aircraft reaches, say, 30,000 feet on your airline flight, say, from Denver to Chicago, the Captain says, “Hello. This is your Captain speaking. Welcome aboard Olympic Mountain General Airlines. Okay, I know some of you call us: OMG! But, seriously, passengers who studied urban sociology in college may be pleased to know the air traffic controllers who will be controlling our flight today from the En Route Air Traffic Control Centers had absolutely no previous training in air traffic control before they joined the FAA’s training program.
“None. They walked in off the street, took a combination personality-biography test — designed to make sure they had an understanding of life in urban environments — and then went on to experience for the first time the wondrous world of aviation, in general, and air traffic control, in particular. Is this a great country, or what?
“Now, some of you with aviation knowledge may wonder what happened to the air traffic control applicants from the College Initiative Training (C.I.T.) Program, those 36 universities and colleges around the nation which for 24 years have provided the FAA with a pool of highly qualified applicants to become air traffic controllers?
“Well, the new FAA air traffic controller hiring policy has removed the hiring preference that those students and even military veterans used to enjoy and, in some cases, the FAA has disqualified them from even making application.
“Even though many of those students spent four years in the air traffic control career track during college, or were military air traffic controllers, the FAA, in the name of social justice, decided those college graduates and veterans had an unfair advantage over applicants with no previous air traffic control knowledge.
“So folks, sit back and relax and know that your flight is being controlled from the ground by people who are learning about aviation and air traffic control with the fresh enthusiasm of beginners who have just learned something new and do not suffer from the, say, complacency of having studied air traffic control for four years in college or operated military control towers.”
End of Satire: Gentle readers, I just worked alongside a bright young woman who completed a four-year course in air traffic control and was told she was not eligible to be tested for the FAA career she planned. Now, she is switching to Airport Management and will have the added expense of a fifth year in college.
To make matters worse, the biographical assessment test, which is more concerned with how many sports applicants played in high school than aviation-related subjects, has been leaked to certain applicants.
More than 25 members of Congress have recognized that the FAA is now more concerned with diversity than aviation safety and are protesting these changes to the FAA’s hiring policies.
When interviewed by investigative reporter for Denver Channel 7, John Ferrugia, Professor Keith Kuhlmann, who teaches air traffic control at Denver’s Metro State University stated, “… the FAA is taking less qualified applicants that have no clear aptitude for the job. In the end, … the policy will cost taxpayers millions.”
So, the next time you fly on OMG!, you can feel all warm and fuzzy about what is happening on the ground, but not necessarily about what could happen to you in the air.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and is a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.