Flight crew union against full-body scanners

November 11, 2010 (CHICAGO)

At Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and more than 60 airports across the U.S., revealing full-body scanners are being used. Pilot unions are telling their members to avoid them-- not because of modesty, but for health reasons.

The idea is supported by Chesley Sullenberger, the famous pilot who landed his U.S. Airways jet safely in the Hudson River.

"I think it is unnecessary for the flight crew to go through them first, and second I think it poses some radiation risk," said Sullenberger.

The radiation dose is 2,000 times less than a chest X-ray and 200,000 times less than CT scans. Doctors say pilots are exposed to increased risks by going through them so often.

"The risks are very small, but multiply by 300 times for a pilot each year, and you are starting to get some concerns even on an individual basis," said Dr. David Brenner, head of Columbia University's Center for Radiological Research.

The Transportation Security Administration released a statement: We are frequently reminded that our enemy is creative and willing to go to great lengths to evade detection.

Anyone who opts out of the scanners receives a full-body, full-contact pat down, which is what the Association of Flight Attendants is angry about.

"We don't want them in uniform going through this enhanced screening where their private areas are being touched in public," said Deborah Volpe, vice president of the Association of Flight Attendants Local 66.

One pilots union official urges pilots to only agree to a pat down if done privately and not while passengers are looking. Another said pilots aren't the enemy and shouldn't be treated like that.

Some airline crew members are considering lawsuits.

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