A groundbreaking ruling by the FAA means good news for volunteer pilots engaged in charitable flying who will now be able to operate under an FAA exemption allowing them to receive reimbursement for fuel used in the transport of patients, wounded warriors, and veterans.
Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic, Airlift Hope, and Mercy Medical Airlift are 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that utilize volunteer pilots to fly patients to distant, specialized medical facilities for treatment. Under the FAA exemption given to these three volunteer pilot organizations, individuals flying missions under their charge are able to accept reimbursement for fuel costs.
Operating under Part 91, pilots have historically used their own aircraft and paid for all expenses associated with these charitable medical flights. But high fuel costs and a faltering national economy have forced many dedicated volunteers to give up or cut back on their public benefit flying, limiting the options for numerous needy patients that have to travel long distance for treatment, rehabilitation or diagnosis, according to association officials.
Seeing the opportunity to raise the safety bar for public benefit flying, FAA regulators evaluated the pilot requirements and safety management system of the three organizations, and, through a cooperative partnership, have come up with a win-win solution for all, officials add.
Angel Flight pilot and board chairman Steve Craven noted the benefits of the ruling: “By giving our pilots the ability to accept reimbursement for fuel, this exemption ensures that Angel Flight programs will continue to help those in need while promoting high safety standards.”