Is Boeing Prioritizing DEI Over Safety?

Boeing 747 | Image by Andrew Holt/Getty Images

Observers of recent near-disasters in the airline industry are beginning to link the industry’s troubles to efforts to implement diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in aviation companies’ hiring practices rather than prioritizing safety.

The narrowly averted disaster involving a Boeing passenger plane in Houston was the latest in a string of incidents that have brought scrutiny to Boeing. On Monday, one of the engines of a United Airlines Boeing 737 en route from Houston to Fort Myers, Florida, caught on fire within minutes of takeoff. This resulted in a terrifying ordeal for the 167 passengers on board before the plane was able to safely return to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.

Footage obtained by the New York Post taken through one of the plane’s windows appears to show flames flashing out of the engine in the otherwise dark sky.

Passengers described the harrowing experience on Flight 1118 to ABC 13:

“I remember there was just this bright, flashing light that came through the window, and it sounded like a bomb went off, and then it was just a strobe of fire out the window,” passenger David Gruninger said, describing how the nightmare began.

“The plane was nosediving, and the pilot was bringing the plane back up,” passenger Elliot Trexler said. “The plane was also rocking back and forth a lot.”

“I think it’s fair to say we all thought we were going to die,” he said.

Trexler said he emailed his wife, “I love you, and you should feel free to move on.”

“It just turned into chaos. People were screaming and crying and trying to figure out what was going on,” Gruninger said.

“It was our left engine, our number one engine, that was surging when we were climbing through about 10,000 [feet], and flight attendants saw momentary flames back there,” a pilot explained on the radio transmission from the plane.

Gruninger described the descent as “a very turbulent ride back, and it was a pretty harsh landing.”

Passengers reportedly received an email from United Airlines that provided $200 worth of credit and a $15 meal voucher and were placed on another flight to Fort Myers later that evening.

This incident comes on the heels of another incident involving a Boeing plane on February 28, when an American Airlines intercontinental flight from New York to Madrid had to be rerouted to Boston due to a crack in the plane’s windshield. It marked the latest in a trend of high-profile air travel safety incidents that have raised concerns about Boeing’s 737 Max manufacturing and other airline maintenance issues.

A profile on X with the handle Kieth M claimed to have formerly worked at Boeing and said the following in response to the aborted New York to Madrid flight:

“I resigned from Boeing because of their DEI indoctrination. How about you stop pushing DEI and pronouns?!? You guys act like you build vacuum cleaners. Live and die on SPI/CPI [schedule performance index/cost performance index]. Building/Maintaining aircraft is a human activity. Treat your mechanics and engineers with the respect they have earned with their skill sets. Stop focusing on indoctrination. The suits need to be fired! #Boeingkills #Boeing #DEIkills If it’s Boeing, I’m not going!”

Another X poster, Todd Snyder, claimed, “#Boeing uses less qualified workers due to #DEI a practice that is going to KILL somebody!”

Others, however, took to social media to accuse those pointing to DEI of scapegoating and outright racism.

“It’s genuinely insidious how the ‘blame DEI for every societal ill’ rhetoric mirrors the ‘illegal immigrants are taking our jobs’ line from the early 2000s. I’ve seen everything from the Boeing plane debacles to games blamed on this imaginary villain,” said journalist Matt Kim in a post on X.

Still, Boeing’s own 2022 public filings show that executive bonuses are now tied to hitting DEI and climate targets. In 2021, annual incentive plans were solely based on “product safety, employee safety, and quality.”

Upon this revelation, Elon Musk took to X and asked, “Do you want to fly in an airplane where they prioritized DEI hiring over your safety? That is actually happening.”

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  1. Three DEI Airline Mishaps in a Row, Is It Tied to DEI? - […] Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, American Airlines, and Boeing all have a DEI policy. Are they hiring their best…

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