Flight Crews And
Public Not In Support Of Backscatter Full Body Scanning
November 17, 2010 - In response to increased threats in
commercial aviation, more travelers and flight crews are
expected to encounter Backscatter full-body scanners at
many major airports this holiday season as a result of
the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
implementation of the use of Advanced Imaging Technology
(AIT) body scanners.
Allied Pilots Association, which represents 11,000
American Airlines pilots called on its pilots to refuse
back-scatter screening and for its pilots to demand
private pat-downs from Transportation Security
Administration (TSA) officers in a letter to its
Several radiation safety authorities including the
National Council on Radiation Protection and
Measurements, The Health Physics Society, and the
American College of Radiology, have stated that they are
"not aware of any evidence" that full-body scans are
However, other radiation authorities, including the
International Atomic Energy Agency and Nuclear Energy
Agency recommend against using ionizing radiation on
certain populations like pregnant women and children,
and opponents of the devices say that no long-term
studies have been done on the health effects of either
backscatter x-ray or millimeter wave scanners .
of backscatter x-ray scanners, including the head of the center
for radiological research at
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have
argued that the amount of radiation is higher than claimed by
the TSA and body scanner manufacturers because the doses were
calculated as if distributed throughout the whole body, but the
radiation from backscatter x-ray scanners is focused on just the
skin and surrounding tissues.
"Our pilots are
highly motivated partners in the effort to protect our nation's
security, with many of us serving as Federal Flight Deck Officers. We
are all keenly aware that we may serve as the last line of defense
against another terrorist attack on commercial aviation. Rather than
being viewed as potential threats, we should be treated commensurate
with the authority and responsibility that we are vested with as
professional pilots,? said Captain Dave Bates, the president of the
Allied Pilots Association.
?It is important
to note that there are "backscatter" AIT devices now being deployed that
produce ionizing radiation, which could be harmful to your health.
Airline pilots in the
"We are exposed to
radiation every day on the job. For example, a typical Atlantic crossing
during a solar flare can expose a pilot to radiation equivalent to 100
chest X-rays per hour. Requiring pilots to go through the AIT means
additional radiation exposure. I share our pilots' concerns about this
additional radiation exposure and plan to recommend that our pilots
refrain from going through the AIT. We already experience significantly
higher radiation exposure than most other occupations, and there is
mounting evidence of higher-than-average cancer rates as a consequence."
A new survey
reveals some confusion and concerns over the safety and privacy and a
lack of awareness of alternatives to traditional x-ray systems. While
respondents expressed support for overall protection afforded by the new
security systems, more than 60 percent said they are concerned about
harm to their health and 37 percent said they feel like these systems
are an invasion of privacy.
Oneworld Cockpit Crew Coalition Advocates "Common-Sense
Approach for Screening Pilots" Worldwide. As part of its biannual
meeting this week in
?The professional pilots who fly for commercial airlines across the globe are highly motivated partners in the effort to ensure the security of our air transport system. Pilots are part of the aviation-security solution and should be accorded treatment commensurate with their status as credentialed, trusted professionals.
?Therefore, it is essential for policymakers to design and
implement security screening systems that are suitable for pilots.
Technology exists that would streamline screening for pilots, thereby
freeing up resources to concentrate on identifying legitimate security
threats. The associations that make up the OCCC whose pilots fly for
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