The US carrier announced that it was aiming to hire 10,000 new pilots by 2030, half of which would be women and/or people of colour, to “diversify the cockpit”.
The Academy is currently accepting applications on its website, which states: “Today, United has one of the most diverse pilot populations of any US carrier with nearly 20 per cent of our pilot group made up of women and people of colour.
“We are working toward raising that number even higher by partnering with diversity-led organisations and continuing to remove gender and racial barriers.
“And we’re going one step further with plans for 50 per cent of United Aviate Academy students being women and people of colour to ensure our students reflect the diversity of the customers and communities we serve.”
Currently, 13 per cent of United’s pilots are people of colour, while just seven per cent are female.
The airline said it will work with historically Black colleges in the US – Delaware State University, Elizabeth City State University and Hampton University – as part of its diversity drive.
In an angry diatribe, Carlson branded the airline bosses “ideologues, suffering from an incurable brain disease called wokeness.”
He said: “In the airline business there is only one standard that matters, and it is not race and it is not gender.
“It's competence. The way people look is totally irrelevant. How they perform is all you should care about.
“Once you forget that, airplanes tend to crash.”
Carlson added: “You do not want to live in a completely racialized country – where a person's genetics are the most important thing about them, where you are reduced to your DNA, dehumanized.”
His guest on the show, former air traffic controller Michael Pearson, also took aim at “the ugly spectre of political correctness” and said it was “absolutely insane to pander to the PC culture”.
A United spokesperson told The Independent its initiative would make the airline “even better”.
“The United Aviate Academy’s commitment to diversity is about recruiting from the deepest pool possible of exceptional and qualified candidates who want to pursue a career as a commercial airline pilot, including those who otherwise may not have even tried due to financial barriers,” they said.
“By looking everywhere for talent – while also upholding our high standards – we’ll be an even better airline.”
Various studies have shown that having a diverse workforce pays dividends. According to research from management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, companies in the top quarter for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are “more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians”.