By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
Leaders of two unions representing pilots at US Airways and American Airlines have advised their members to decline to be screened by new advanced-imaging-technology full-body scanners and request a pat-down instead. "No pilot at American Airlines should subject themselves to the needless privacy invasion and potential health risks caused by the AIT body scanners," wrote Dave Bates, president of the Allied Pilots Association, which represents 11,000 pilots at American, in a letter to members. The new scanners produce ionizing radiation, which can be harmful to health, especially when added to the high doses of radiation that pilots already are exposed to on the job, Bates said. Mike Cleary, president of the US Airways pilot group, said the TSA procedures are "blatantly unacceptable," and the alternative pat-down procedure also has problems. Cleary said the pat-down process "has already produced a sexual molestation in alarmingly short order."
The new scanners, which produce a detailed image of a person's body sans clothing, also have been criticized on privacy grounds. Bates also adds that the alternative, the "enhanced pat-down," is a "demeaning experience." Pilots who submit to one while in uniform should insist that it's done in a out-of-view area to protect their privacy and dignity. One professional pilot, Michael Roberts, refused to submit to either a full-body scan or a pat-down, creating a stalemate that he now hopes to resolve in court. He spoke about the issue with AVweb's Glenn Pew; click here for the podcast.