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Express Jet Pilot Refuses Full Body X Ray TSA Scan May be Fired

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In The News

Apparently it’s not just frequent flyers battling with TSA and airline security: a Tennessee pilot is tired of being manhandled by airport security agents, strictly against the idea of being “molested” every time he goes to work. Express Jet’s Michael Roberts is now waiting to see whether his pilot’s job is on the line, after his full refusal of x-ray scan and frisk by TSA.
Express Jet Airlines pilot, first officer Michael Roberts, was the lucky recipient chosen by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA)—the agency who ordered the pilot to submit to an x-ray scan at Memphis International Airport. TSA says passengers are selected to undergo the new scan at TSA officers' discretion, with an alternative of being frisked. Airline passengers not selected for the enhanced screening are sent through a metal detector instead.
Express Jet’s Roberts was wearing full pilot's uniform and proper identification at the time that TSA selected him for a full body scan. The “selection” seemed to act as a wrong trigger with pilot Roberts. “For a guy like this [a pilot], who is probably going through once or twice a week, who has been doing it four or five years, you'd think they would just know him and say, 'Hi, how are you?' and would just pass him through with normal screening," says fellow industry employee Scott Erickson, a captain who heads Pinnacle Airlines’ unit of the Air Line Pilots Association.
Erickson says his Air Line Pilots Association members are divided over the new TSA procedures—in particular, the question as to whether health risks associated with the x-ray technology are as insignificant as the TSA agency claims.
In this instance, it appears ego—not possible health risks—was the spark that set the “fire”.
It certainly doesn’t appear to be a “love-love” relationship between pilots and TSA, two very different fields—with two very different pay schedules. Pilot Robers says he, too, has safety concerns but calls the TSA administration a "make-work" program that doesn't make travel safer. The probability of ego involvement prompts question as to whether selection of the pilot—by the TSA agency—was purely coincidental, or indicator of an ongoing power struggle between agencies.
With a home base in Houston, the Express Jet pilot decided he was “clocking out” and done for the day. The airline pilot refused the fully-body x-ray scan—and refused a TSA pat-down while he was at it, opting instead to return home.
The 35-year-old Express Jet employee told The Commercial Appeal that he simply wants to go to work, not be harassed or “molested”. The x-ray technology at Memphis International is newly-installed and TSA claims the refusal to be the first of its kind at the Memphis airport since the agency rolled out the imaging technology, a full- body X-ray, at the airport about a month ago.
"I'm not trying to throw down the gauntlet with the federal government per se," says the Express Jet pilot. "I just want to be able to go to work and not be harassed or molested without cause.... I'm just not comfortable being physically manhandled by a federal security agent every time I go to work."


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