Airlines Focus On Diversity Amid Rising Near-Collisions

Written by Anthony Constantini

What’s happening: There was a near-collision between two civilian aircraft — one of them an airbus — outside of the John F. Kennedy International Airport just weeks ago. This comes after a New York Times report on secret documents showing near-collisions have surged due to understaffing and poor training.

  • The numbers: Aircraft are 25 percent more likely to have a near-collision near runways than they were ten years ago. In the last 12 months, there were nearly 300 near-collisions.

Why it matters: One air traffic controller felt that airlines are courting disaster: “It is only a matter of time before something catastrophic happens.” But instead of solving the issue by hiring only the best and improving training, airlines are putting diversity first and competence second.

Hiring policies: Two years ago, United Airlines announced it will ensure at least half of new pilot trainees at its new training academy are women or minorities, even if other candidates may have been better potential pilots.

  • Other changes: Some carriers are cutting hiring requirements in response to the pilot shortage. Southwest Airlines reduced the hours of flight experience required for applicants, while others no longer require pilots to have a four-year degree.

Happening now: Poorly trained hires won’t just cause problems in the future; two pilots almost crashed a plane into the Pacific Ocean last December and had to submit to re-training.