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Removing the Man from Unmanned Aviation

On the quest to create a more inclusive industry, in February, the Federal Aviation Administration tasked its Drone Advisory Committee to examine words like unmanned. The committee had a pretty simple message for the FAA: Words matter, and the FAA and aviation industry should move forward with using gender-neutral language.

The committee suggested that the FAA start using gender-neutral language in the drone industry, and then expand to the larger aviation industry. It gave examples of changes that would be needed and how the FAA could achieve them.

Some examples include: Changing unmanned to uncrewed, repairman to technician and Notice to Airman to Notice to All.

According to Women in Aviation International, women pilots still represent only six percent of the total pilot population and female drone pilots account for even less. Although, many of the terms historically used in aviation were previously tailored to a traditionally male-dominated industry, major strides are being made to increase diversity and inclusion.

Building a drone industry that promotes gender inclusivity isn’t about a war of words or even an appeal to politics. It’s a signal that drones are for everyone. When the drone community reflects the diversity of America, it will be stronger for it.

FAA Deputy Administrator Bradley Mims indicated earlier this year that removing barriers is a key element to ensuring that top talent come to the FAA and aviation industry.

“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,” Deputy Administrator Mims said.

Change takes time, and 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. But, it’s a journey that will allow the aerospace sector to soar to new heights and achieve the next level of safety.