Washington airfield owners gain liability protection

March 8, 2012

Chris Gregoire signs bill

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, flanked by members of the Recreational Aviation Foundation and state lawmakers, signs into law a measure that will extend recreational use liability protection to private airport owners.

Private airports in Washington state can now open runways to the public with protection from liability. On March 7, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law a bill championed by aviators, including AOPA, the Washington Pilots Association, and the Recreational Aviation Foundation. Washington joined a group of 13 states with laws that clearly include aviation in recreational use statutes protecting property owners from liability when access to private property is provided without charge.

AOPA worked closely with the organizations, and state lawmakers, who moved the bill quickly through House and Senate votes. Recreational Aviation Foundation liaison Bob Kay is working with Northwest Regional Manager David Ulane to spread the word to private airport owners that they can offer public access without fear of liability.

Backcountry airports offer many people the only practical means of access for camping, hiking, and other outdoor recreation. AOPA continues to work with partners across the country to expand recreational use laws to clearly include protection for airports.