The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is considering a recommendation from an external committee to make the U.S. aviation industry gender-neutral in a bid to shed old-fashioned gender stereotypes and promote equality across the industry. Examples cited by the committee included the FAA’s Notice to Airmen or NOTAM system which could change to Notice to All.
Other changes include replacing repairman with the gender-neutral technician, airman to aviator and manmade to manufactured. The recommendations were drawn up by the FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee and although they apply to ‘unmanned aircraft systems’ they could also be adopted across the industry.
“Language matters, especially as the FAA works to build an equitable workforce now and in the future,” explained Dominique Gebru in a recent FAA podcast. “And I mean, really our vocabulary is dynamic. We used to say stewardess, but now we say flight attendant, and everyone knows what that means, it doesn’t cause confusion.”
FAA Deputy Administrator Brad Mims agrees, saying the agency would do everything possible to make people comfortable – which could include adopting gender-neutral language.
“We should remove any barriers from recruiting the next generation of aerospace workers who will operate that infrastructure. We want the best, brightest, and most diverse group of people from all walks of life,” Mimms says.
Only around 8 per cent of traditional pilots are women so there is clearly a lot more still to do to promote equality within the industry – one such way may be to use gender-neutral language, although the FAA admits that just “modifying language is far from a complete solution”.
“But it’s a step on the journey toward an equitable future, a journey that will require energy from all aspects of the field,” the FAA wrote in a recent Medium article.
On Wednesday, German airline group Lufthansa announced plans to introduce gender-neutral language during announcements onboard planes and at the gate, while also using gender-neutral terms on its website and in internal publications.
Gender-neutral language has already been adopted by Air Canada, Delta and Japan Airlines.
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Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.