October 6, 2005
AOPA is supporting a measure that would protect volunteer pilots and charitable organizations such as Angel Flight America from liability lawsuits.
In June 8 letters to the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary committees, AOPA President Phil Boyer urged passage of the measure, pointing out that volunteer pilots provide life-saving services to medical patients by providing free transportation to specialized medical facilities.
"Recent increases in insurance have created hardships on these organizations and limited the number of volunteer pilots," Boyer wrote. "The Volunteer Pilot Organization Protection Act attempts to provide the necessary protection these organizations need to continue their charitable missions."
The legislation, which has been introduced by Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) and Rep. Thelma Drake (R-Va.) and is pending in the Senate and House Judiciary committees, would close a gap in the Volunteer Protection Act. That law protects volunteers and charitable organizations from being sued for ordinary negligence occurring during the course of their volunteer activities. But a fix is needed because the law doesn't cover volunteers operating a motor vehicle or aircraft.
Because they can be sued, these volunteers and the nonprofit organizations sponsoring them have found their insurance rates skyrocketing, if they can get insurance at all.
A similar measure passed the House of Representatives last September.
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AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.