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Obama-era FAA hiring rules placed air traffic controller diversity ahead of safety, lawyer says

Under the Obama administration, the FAA changed its rules for air traffic controller hiring, which now includes first passing a diversity test. (Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

For decades, the selection process for the Federal Aviation Administration's air traffic controllers was rigorous. After all, one minor mistake could cost hundreds of people their lives.

But a new report from Fox News host Tucker Carlson revealed the Obama administration modified the FAA's candidate selection process to value workplace diversity over competency, experience and skills.

What are the details?

According to Carlson, due to changes implemented during the Obama administration, air traffic controller candidates are now required to complete a "biographical questionnaire" before even being considered for a job with the FAA.

If they don't pass, they aren't considered for a position — no matter how much experience they have or how qualified they are.

Fox News obtained a copy of the questionnaire and how it is scored. According to Carlson, candidates whose worst subject in high school was science and candidates who are unemployed receive the most points possible on the test. In contrast, licensed pilots and those with extensive air traffic control knowledge aren't highly scored.

Fox News spoke to an FAA spokesperson, who told Carlson's show he was unsure of why the FAA screens candidates for diversity over competency. Unsurprisingly, the FAA never offered Carlson an explanation.

Is there any explanation?

Michael Pearson, an attorney representing a man suing the FAA over its diversity test, told Carlson the test is intentionally designed to "weed out" experienced candidates, especially those with an aviation background.

Carlson noted that hiring less experienced candidates to control air traffic puts millions of lives at risk. So why would the FAA make the changes? Pearson's answer suggests the reason is just as egregious as the changes.

"A group within the FAA, including the human resources function within the FAA, including the National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees, determined that the workforce was too white. They had a concerted effort through the Department of Transportation in the Obama administration to change that," Pearson said.

Pearson likened the situation to the Department of Veteran Affairs hiring physicians who didn't graduate from medical school for their hospitals and claiming the VA can train them better.

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