A lawsuit filed this morning in Arizona federal district court seeks class action status to represent thousands of men and women who claim the Federal Aviation Administration violated their civil rights. Those people were students in FAA certified training programs at two- and four-year colleges nationwide that offered degrees in air traffic management.
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The program was called the Collegiate Training Initiative and was started by the FAA in the 1990s to prevent an acute shortage of air traffic controllers; the kind of shortage the FAA says now threatens the nation’s air traffic safety.
Until recently, the FAA told potential recruits the CTI program was a preferred method to become an air traffic controller. But in 2013 the FAA abruptly changed its hiring practices in an attempt to become more racially diverse.
Close to 3,000 students who spent money obtaining degrees through the CTI programs, and had passed FAA required skills tests, were suddenly and without explanation ruled ineligible. The FAA instituted a new personality test designed to weed out applicants in place of the older aptitude test. A FOX Business investigation, TROUBLE IN THE SKIES, first reported the hiring scandal and charges that FAA employees helped select students cheat on the new personality test.
The Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) filed the suit on behalf of CTI graduate Andrew Brigida. He achieved the highest possible score on the FAA’s air traffic control aptitude test but was ruled ineligible by the FAA's new personality test.
“I felt angry. Because you take all this time, you’re told this is the way, going to the CTI school to be hired, and they say sorry it doesn’t matter anymore.” Brigida said he spent $40,000 to obtain his degree but, “I feel all that time and money was wasted, just four years down the drain.”
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Brigida wants the FAA to reinstate his eligibility to be hired or to compensate him for the money he spent obtaining his air traffic management degree.
MSLF’s President and Lead Attorney William Perry Pendley said, “In abandoning years of hiring the most qualified and adopting a test that is the epitome of psychobabble, the FAA told our clients their skills are less important than their race, and the public that its racial agenda is more important than aircraft safety.”