Pilots to be exempt from airport scanners, intrusive pat-downs
Airline pilots will no longer have to go through body scanners or be subject to body pat-downs, as do ticketed passengers. TSA is also testing scanners designed to be less intrusive.
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“Obviously we know the threats are real, so that’s what we are trying to deal with here, to keep it in context,” he said on ABC’s "Good Morning America" Friday. “The reason we are doing these types of pat-downs and using the advanced imagery technology is trying to take the latest intelligence and how we know Al Qaeda and affiliates want to hurt us, they want to bring down whether it is passenger aircraft or cargo aircraft.”Skip to next paragraph
Still, TSA is testing new body scanners designed to be less personal. Instead of showing a traveler’s naked body, the image will be of a stick figure with anomalies – say, a cellphone in a pocket – highlighted. This is intended to speed up the process, as well as to be less intrusive. Those who refuse to be scanned would still be subjected to the full-body pat-down.
While news reports show many travelers objecting to the stricter security measures, most Americans apparently approve of the full-body airport scanners.
A CBS News poll this week has 81 percent of those surveyed agreeing that airports “should use full-body X-ray machines.” Fifteen percent disagreed.
Meanwhile, there’s still some concern about the effects of X-raying passengers and (for now, at least) flight crew members.
David Bates, president of the Allied Pilots Association representing the 9,600 pilots who fly for American Airlines, told members in an e-mail earlier this month that X-ray scanners “could be harmful to your health.” He noted that pilots already receive higher doses of radiation from flying.
But some experts say the relatively low level of exposure should not be a health concern.
“You would need 1,000 or 2,000 airport scans just to equal one dental X-ray,” Richard Morin, a professor in the radiology department at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., told Bloomberg News. “You’re getting more radiation just sitting at your desk for 15 minutes than you would from one airport scan.”