Pilot Group Urges Pilots To Refuse Naked Backscatter Scans, And Avoid Groping Pat Downs

from the you-realize-they-pilot-the-planes,-right? dept

We recently had the story of a pilot who ran into some trouble after refusing to go through one of the “naked” backscatter scanners at the airport, and then refusing to go through a much more invasive “pat down” search as payment for skipping the scanner. Over the last few weeks, airports in the US have stepped up the use of both (though, it should be noted, I’m writing this particular post on an airplane and did not have to go through either such “search” in order to do so). It appears that the pilot in question was not the only one miffed at the rules. Apparently the head of the Allied Pilots Association (which represents American Airlines pilots among others), Dave Bates, has sent out a note to the members complaining about these new security procedures, suggesting that pilots refuse the new scanners, and insist that any additional pat down must be done in private, rather than out in the open. It does seem rather silly to give pilots this kind of treatment since they already pilot the damn plane. If they wanted to do something bad to the plane, they already have the ability to do so.

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Comments on “Pilot Group Urges Pilots To Refuse Naked Backscatter Scans, And Avoid Groping Pat Downs”

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Shawn (profile) says:

Flight attendants not liking it either

The head of a 2,000-member flight attendant union says she is getting calls daily from members upset about the Transporation Security Agency’s new “patdown” security procedures, with most complaining they are far too invasive.

Deborah Volpe, Vice President of the Association of Flight Attendants Local 66, told local ABC News affiliate ABC15 in Phoenix that “our members are concerned” with the procedure, which is conducted when passengers and flight personnel alike decide to opt-out entering secured concourses through backscatter full-body X-ray machines currently being used in more airports.

Volpe said the union was advising members to request the patdown in a private area with a witness present.

“We don’t want them in uniform going through this enhanced screening where their private areas are being touched in public,” she told the local news station. “They actually make contact with the genital area.”

She added that while the union is definitely not against security at airports, there are better ways to clear flight personnel through checkpoints, so as not to delay passengers – some of which complained to ABC15 that crew members who chose to bypass the scanners contributed to flight delays.

Volpe says a better approach would be to issue a “crew pass” to flight personnel so they could essentially bypass security.

“Security is the most important aspect, our offices were used as murder weapons,” she told ABC15. But, she added, “Keep in mind we undergo extensive background checks and we fly quite often.”

Volpe said some union members were considering lawsuits.

“They’ve already contacted the ACLU. We don’t know if somebody may have had an experience with a sexual assault and its (pat-down) going to drudge up some bad memories,” she said.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Oh for crying out loud.

Knives and coffee weren’t required for that, just a bunch of people with balls. They figured since they were going down, they’d go down on their terms. And for that I call them heroes (it doesn’t hurt that I live in Pittsburgh).

The only thing I have to say is; If the airport doesn’t trust the actual pilots, then I don’t want to be in that airport.

interval (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Oh for crying out loud.

Forget the coffee, and the knives. Anyone with a gun permit should be allowed to carry a gun, and gun permits should be easier to get than they currently are. I’d be curious to see the stats on hijackings and school shootings if law abiding citizens were allowed to carry guns and not be legally hassled if they had to use them during an emergency. We currently for all practical purposes deny citizens the 2nd amendment and treat people who use guns to defend themselves as criminals, and that seems to really be working; maybe its time for an about-face.

Oh, and by the way, shooting hole in a pressurized plane does not result in catastrophic depressurization.

Pitabred (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Oh for crying out loud.

It may not result in catastrophic depressurization, but it would result in depressurization and given the density of humanity in a plane, it’s really damn hard to not hit anyone other than the intended target.

We don’t need guns on planes. We need to lock cockpit doors. What’s that you say, we already do that? Well shit. Security solved.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s presumably a lot harder to impersonate a generic pilot well enough to get through security than to impersonate a pilot well enough to fool an airline that is expecting a particular pilot for a particular flight.

All it would really take would be a uniform and whatever TSA special pass the pilot would presumably have to get through security without getting scanned. The terrorist could then go to an airport restroom and change out of the uniform.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Oh gee whiz – last time I checked confirming identity did not require a full body x-ray or having your genitalia manipulated.

Biometrics? Fingerprints? Iris scans? Smart Flight-crew passports? vouched for by 2 other crew?

If you *KNOW* they are the pilot you do *NOT* need to see them naked or grope them… unless of course you really enjoy that.

The plane, the plane! says:

Pissed off pilot.

The pilot can go through both the scanner and get a pat down to appease everyone. He/she then gets the “green light” to proceed like everyone else. The pilot boards the plane, plane takes off, and in the air. No problems right?

However, earlier in the day he/she found out his/her partner was cheating on him/her. He/she made a mental decision to take his/her life, but to do it when the plane is in the air taking everyone else on board with him/her.

Tell me the scan or pat down that will prevent that?

darryl says:

All we need, is a bunch of upset pilots, with X-Ray induced cancer... !! Feel safe ?

Thats right, you have to make sure a pilot is not carrying a knife on him, before you put him incharge of a massive missile !!!! LOL..

I dont see any reason why there should not be a ‘Trusted fly list’ just as there is a ‘no fly list’.

You can expect people like employees, that are constantly checked to do their job, and frequent flyers that could be put on a ‘trusted’ list, that would reduce the requirement for searching, to at least some random searches, (like sports people drug testing).

Having to check pilots like normal unknown passengers is saying the consider their low paid security people to be more authorative and security concerned than the pilots and the people who’s lives are at risk !!.

Plus the fact that frequent flyers, and pilots and crew do not need to be subject to excessive X-Ray exposure, they allready get more exposure that people who work on the ground.

Its a risk that does not need to be taken..

When I got my security clearance, they checked my history, my politics, my entire family, my travel history.. everything. (and probably more than I know).
But once you have that trust, you have it, and unless you abuse it you keep it.

Same should apply to flight staff, they should have the same security rank as the low paid staff manning the airport security. Or more…

Beta (profile) says:

Re: All we need, is a bunch of upset pilots, with X-Ray induced cancer... !! Feel safe ?

“I dont see any reason why there should not be a ‘Trusted fly list’ just as there is a ‘no fly list’.”

There should not be a “no fly” list. If you think it does any good then you don’t understand security, and if you think it does no harm then civil rights are not important to you.

“When I got my security clearance, they checked my [everything]. But once you have that trust, you have it, and unless you abuse it you keep it.”

Judging by your reference to the “no fly” list, I’m guessing you’re American. In the United States, security clearances expire after a certain number of years (depending on level), whether you’ve kept your nose clean or not.

darryl says:

Re: Re: All we need, is a bunch of upset pilots, with X-Ray induced cancer... !! Feel safe ?

No im Australian, and our security system is very much like yours, ofcourse you are not just checked once and forgotten about, you are periodically checked as well.

And its based on a “need to know” basis, so even if you have a clearance if you are no longer involved in work that required that clearance, even if you have it if you ‘dont need to know it’ you dont get to know it.

I enquried about a job in the Govnnt security industry and that was over 10 after my defense security ‘expired’ (I no longer needed to know, was no longer in the military).

But my security clearance was still valid, and I would not have to wait the 1 year period normally required for background checks.

They do a very deep background check, for example I was an amateur radio operator before I joined the military and when I was under training, used to military bases ham station and spoke to someone in Bulgaria.

Australian security agents quizzed me, and asked me to explain why I was talking to countries like that in my position !!..

ECA (profile) says:

A little logic

As a few may/have posted..

AS a pilot…HE DONT NEED A BOMB, he is driving one.

Anyone understand that a BOMB is a waste of time to a pilot? He can put a 20 HOLE in the earth with a QUICK dive and CRASH. And never see the inside of a jail cell.

eVEN THE threat that a Pilot is suicidal or holding a Plane hostage. There is Nothing you could really do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Honestly, if terrorist wanted to use a plane, they could just get someone with a clean background and put them through flight school, grease the proper wheels, and get them a position as a pilot with an airline. Sure, it’d take time. And sure, after a massive attack on the US it’d be slightly more difficult to do. Hell, to get them in place for a massive assault it might even take 9 or 10…years…

Obviously pilots should not be able to fly planes. It’s the clearest weak link in our security. One passenger, at random should be chosen to fly the plane at the start of the flight. Only then will we be safe!

Anonymous Coward says:

The point it seems is to restrict flying or if you have to fly, make it such a PNA you don’t want to do it more than you have to.

There was already an article I read that they figure it too expensive to run security setups on bulk cargo flying. It costs too much, even though it costs more for the passengers.

I long ago figured out it wasn’t worth the hassle to fly. I now refuse to fly because of these hassles. I am not going to pay for something that adds these BS PNAs into the mix. Don’t like it, not going to do it. Period.

out_of_the_blue says:

See society stratify into Brave New World.

I don’t want to see pilots and flight attendants put into special trusted categories for exactly the reason that it’s further splitting up We The People into those with “privileges” (of slightly *less* suspicion at times because of their *job*), thuggish low-IQ “guards” who just obey orders, and “proles” subject to travel restrictions — plus The Rich exempt from all rules for “the little people” by flying private jets. — We’re already most of the way to Huxley’s outline.

Of course, it’s a “conspiracy theory” to even entertain the thought there’s an over-arching plan being put in place, in which a key component is accustoming the general populace to more scrutiny than actual prisoners, with threats of a shadowy “terrorist” network, in a state of perpetual war, and constant lies from gov’t officials. — At this stage, anyone who doesn’t see the outlines of a plan is willfully blind, but many of “conservative” views do worship authority and think that they’re *in* the power structure.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m 100% against both measures of security, but I need to point out a flaw in your logic.

Yes, the pilots fly the plane. But, that doesn’t make them any less of a security threat for unapproved paraphanalia.

Pilots could be forced/coerced/bribed to be carrying illegal devices or drugs. Or they might just be sneaking something like liquor onboard. Not every security violation is a threat to the plane itself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“unapproved paraphanalia.”

My gods. Just how is the lack of a Ouiji Board or a sexual penertration device going to decrease his abilty to just crash the plane?

Oh wait… maybe you meant a bomb? Um… just why does he need a bomb again? He is after all in control of a very very large guided missile.

FFS trust them to do their job.. or make it a requirement every pilot holds secret top super duper clearence re-checked every year and has a physch session before every flight.

Rwolf says:

TSA Invasive Touching Private Body Parts, Naked X-ray Scans

Is This Just The Beginning of Being X-rayed /Stripped Naked And Having Your Private Body Parts Touched, Pat-Downs By Government Employees Most Everywhere You Go? Enough! Americans should boycott flying on airlines; that would get their attention.

If Obama has his way, Americans might be X-Ray Scanned not just at airports, it is problematic airport X-ray scans will lead to government scanning Citizens boarding trains, cruse ships, buses, entering sports events and and a large array of buildings. Continued Low Radiation Exposure is Accumulative and believed to cause Cancer.

Recently the Obama government purchased hundreds’ of X-Ray Vans that will be traveling our streets without warrants, secretly x-raying Americans walking on the street, peering though Citizens’ homes and vehicles, exposing Americans and their families to X-rays. X-ray vans are an affront to privacy, literally allowing government/police to view Citizens naked in their bedrooms. Americans need to ask Obama if independent studies were conducted to determine if Citizens could develop Cancer, if (repeatedly exposed) by police X-rays when in their vehicles and in their homes? Imagine a government agency every night X-raying someone in his or her home. Could many X-rays pose a serious health risk? It is foreseeable some Citizens will install similar to smoke detectors, sensors that will set off an alarm, if their home or vehicle is bombarded with X-rays, keeping records of the level of radiation.

X-Ray Vans can ALSO be positioned to secure perimeters by the military or police to control civil unrest and instances of revolt, to screen and stop Citizens carrying guns, cameras; any item. Why did the government order hundreds X-Ray Vans?

darryl says:

No medical minimum dose for X-Ray exposure.

There is NO minimum safe dose for X-Ray Radiation, its not about the ‘amount’ of radiation you receive, you just need ONE photon of X-Rays to strike your DNA in the wrong place, at the wrong time and it might mutate into a cancer.

So the more X-Rays you get the more chance you have of getting cancer, but it could be the billionth x-ray or the first one, or none at all.

flying in a aircraft at high altitude, also increases you exposure to natural radiation, gamma ray, x rays and nuclear radiation, that is not as much reduced by the atmosphere when you are at 30,000 feet.

That is not including the carcenogenic chemicals and solvents and materials in an aircraft that would create a higher incidence of cancer.

So an X-ray for a pilot every DAY, would be a massive risk.

They estimate a full body cat scan has a 2 to 3% chance of GIVING you cancer, as opposed to finding any cancers !!..

Thats 2% risk with ONE X-ray.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Pilots and searches

Knowing several pilots, I strongly suspect this has nothing to do with modesty or privacy, and a lot to do with arrogance. I have no sympathy for them.
As to “they pilot the plane” so if the “want to do something bad” – what, like smuggling drugs? I think everyone should be searched, and if they are so God-like that they should be excepted, let’s except them from flying.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Pilots and searches

Knowing several pilots, I strongly suspect this has nothing to do with modesty or privacy, and a lot to do with arrogance. I have no sympathy for them.
As to “they pilot the plane” so if the “want to do something bad” – what, like smuggling drugs? I think everyone should be searched, and if they are so God-like that they should be excepted, let’s except them from flying.

Bart (profile) says:


Pilots are not the problem. Terrorists dressed like pilots are the problem.
If we have the technology to distinguish between the two why not apply it to regular passengers as well?
We don’t have it, and so we don’t do it.
However, in true TSA spirit this should only be a problem after an attack has been tried with this method. So I suggest that we don’t do security checks on pilots – at least not until a plane gets blown up by a terrorist who smuggled his bombs through security by dressing up as a pilot. THEN we start checking pilots. Makes much more sense that way.

Matthew says:

Freedom or death

Private rape seems even more offensive than public rape in some ways. It makes me think they could get away with more without other people watching them.

I refuse to fly. I refuse to have my body or my possessions searched by anyone, and anyone who tries is going to get beat down and/or strangled. I’ve had enough of this fascist garbage.

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