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updated 4/13/2011 3:19:03 PM ET 2011-04-13T19:19:03

A data leak at US Airways has put the identities of thousands of airline pilots at risk.

Security news site Dark Reading reports that in October 2009, a former chief pilot handed over the Social Security numbers and dates of birth of 3,000 pilots to Leonidas, a group that represents pilots from America West airlines, which is now US Airways. The data was secretly embedded in an Excel spreadsheet.

The US Airline Pilots Association (USAPA) has enlisted the FBI to help investigate the insider data leak, which, the USAPA contends stems from an ongoing labor dispute regarding a seniority list that would determine which pilots receive raises.

Three pilots, including the one who leaked the sensitive data, have been placed on leave pending the investigation, Steve Johnson, US Airways executive vice president and corporate counsel, said in a March 23 letter to pilots.

US Airways is offering a year of LifeLock identity theft monitoring to the pilots.

The USAPA reported that US Airways said the leaked Social Security numbers would not be used maliciously, but USAPA president Mike Cleary doesn’t believe the airline.

“This is, of course, ludicrous,” Cleary said in a statement. “It’s analogous to a bank robber promising he will not spend the stolen loot.”

Reports of US Airways breach come just days after the massive Epsilon email breach which leaked the email databases of more than 30 companies, including Capital One Bank, Citi, Target, U.S. Bank, Verizon, TD Ameritrade and Best Buy.

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