Do Diversity Efforts Make Flying Less Safe? Elon Musk Gets Slammed by Civil Rights Groups Over His Comments on the Boeing 737 Crash

By: Savvy Dime Staff | Published: Feb 02, 2024

According to news outlet Benzinga Neuro, tech billionaire Elon Musk posed a question on X, asking users if they would fly in an airplane where DEI is prioritized over safety.

Musk shared a series of posts on X criticizing United Airlines and Boeing for introducing a new annual incentive program in 2022 that adds more focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).  This combined with the latest Boeing 737 Max 9 safety scandal that saw dozens of grounded Boeing 737’s due to major safety concerns, was enough to cause Musk to lash out on social media.

The Boeing Blowout of Alaskan Airlines

What prompted Musk’s comments was the incident on January 6 that saw Alaskan Airlines making an emergency landing.

Picture of door plug that blew off in an airplane

Source: @DavidSt10386697/ X

Passengers were in for a shock on January 5 when the door plug of the plane blew off and left a gaping hole in the side of the plane. The flight was cut short by an emergency landing had to be performed. Confidence in the airline has been shaken.

FAA Grounds 171 Boeings in the USA

In response to this incident, the Federal Aviation Administration has grounded all 171 737 Max 9 planes in the United States, according to NPR news.

Federal Aviation Administration logo on orange background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Not only has the FAA grounded 171 of the planes, but they have also begun their own audit into  Boeing’s production line and safety as well as quality inspections. This is a result of loose parts in the plane.

Alaskan Airlines Works Hard To Rebuild Its Reputation

Amidst all the bad publicity, Alaskan Airlines and Boeing are working hard to get their planes and reputation back to their former glory.

The Boeing Company Logo

Source: Wikimedia Commons

NPR News reported what Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Stan Deal wrote in a letter to employees, “These checks will provide one more layer of scrutiny on top of the thousands of inspections performed today across each 737 airplane, and build on the reviews we have implemented to catch potential non-conformances”

FAA Hardens Its Stance on The Grounded 737 Planes

In addition to grounding 171 of the Boeing 373 Max 9 planes, the FAA has imposed additional requirements.

Boeing 737 Max 9 plane flying

Source: Wikimedia Commons

To improve the safety of Boeing airplanes, the FAA has imposed some additional requirements that the airplane manufacturer needs to meet before the planes can return to the air.

Hundreds of Flights Are Grounded Due to Lack of Confidence in Boeing’s Planes

This incident has had a knock-on effect on other airlines, which are now canceling flights.

Board of canceled flights

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Airlines across the U.S. like United, have been canceling flights due to not having enough planes, while Alaskan Airlines has canceled all scheduled flights on 373 plane models.


Introduction of DEI Initiatives by United Airlines and Boeing Catch Musk’s Attention

In response to the annual diversity incentive program introduced in 2022 and the recent Boeing 7373 crash, Musk addressed the diversity initiative on X, writing, “People will die due to DEI.”

White and blue Icelandair Boeing 737-9 Max taking off into the sky

Source: Flightmode

Musk also wrote on X, “Do you want to fly in an airplane where they prioritized DEI hiring over your safety? That is actually happening.” Musk blames the safety problems on poor hiring that, according to him, is all about hitting a quota of hiring nonwhites rather than safety, according to news outlet Essence.


Civil Rights Groups Slam Musk For Comments

Civil rights groups like NAACP and National Urban League have slammed Musk for his baseless comments.

Two pilots sitting in a plane looking at the all the scanners, radars and steering wheel

Source: Pexels

NBC News reported that Marc Morial, who is the president and CEO of the National Urban League, called the comments “abhorrent and pathetic.” He also brought up the fact that Musk’s company Tesla is currently being sued for alleged abuse against black employees and “The only thing anyone needs to hear from Musk about diversity in the workplace is an apology.”


CEO and NAACP President Derrick Johnson Calls Out Musk on X

CEO and NAACP president Derrick Johnson took to X to publically call out the irony of Musk’s comments.

Tesla logo on a wet black surface

Source: Austin Ramsey/ Unsplash

Johnson wrote, “Reminder to @elonmusk: providing a home for the proliferation of hate speech and white supremacist conspiracy theories kills people. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion cultivates a more inclusive society.” He added, “They are not the same. We are not the same.”


Pilot Says Musk’s Facts Are Wrong: Plane Safety Has Never Been Higher

Glendon Fraser, board president of the Lee A. Archer Jr. Red Tail Youth Flying Program, with 38 years of experience as a commercial pilot, says Musk has his facts incorrect.

New X logo with grey 3D shapes in background

Source: BoliviaInteligente

News outlet NBC reported that Fraser feels that the hiring standards of airlines are actually higher than during the 1970’s. In fact, 2023 saw a record low in the number of accidents and fatalities, confirming that Musk’s comments lack evidence and are just another example of the lax moderation policies Musk introduced after taking over X.