(FORT WORTH, Texas) -- Two pilots unions are now advising their members to opt out of Advanced Imaging Technology screening machines (full-body scanners) when going through TSA security. They’re also calling into question the TSA’s pat-downs.
On Nov. 1, Captain Dave Bates, the head of the Allied Pilots Association, sent an e-mail to pilots suggesting they refuse full-body scanners because of potential radiation exposure.
“While I’m sure that each of us recognizes the threats to our lives are real, the practice of airport security screening of airline pilots has spun out of control and does nothing to improve national security. It’s long past time that policymakers take the steps necessary to exempt commercial pilots from airport security screening....” Bates wrote.
Captain Bates added that pilots should request that pat-downs be done in private.
“In my view, it is unacceptable to submit to one in public while wearing the uniform of a professional airline pilot,” he said.
APA represents 11,000 American Airlines pilots.
On Monday, Captain Mike Cleary, head of the U.S. Airlines Pilots Association, sent out a similar message to his pilots saying that full-body scanners represent a health risk to pilots. Cleary also recounted a disturbing report from one US Airways pilot regarding TSA’s enhanced pat-down:
“One US Airways pilot, after being selected for an enhanced pat-down, experienced a frisking that has left him unable to function as a crew member. The words this pilot used to describe the incident included ‘sexual molestation,’ and in the aftermath of trying to recover, this pilot reported that he had literally vomited in his own driveway while contemplating going back to work and facing the possibility of a similar encounter with the TSA.”
Cleary adds in his memo that, “when submitting to a private, enhanced pat-down procedure, pilots must be sure that a witness, preferably a crew member, accompanies them during the pat-down.”
USAPA represents 5,300 US Airways pilots.
In response to resistance from the pilots unions, TSA said:
“We are frequently reminded that our enemy is creative and willing to go to great lengths to evade detection. TSA utilizes the latest intelligence to inform the deployment of new technology and procedures, like the pat-down, in order to stay ahead of evolving threats. Administrator Pistole is committed to a risk-based, intelligence-driven approach to security and ordered a review of existing policies shortly after taking office. We look forward to further discussion with pilots on these important issues.”
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