Private airfield owners in Oregon can soon rest easier after Gov. Kate Brown signed an AOPA-backed bill into law that protects airstrip owners from liability while opening the door to more recreational opportunities and increased public access.
Oregon became the twenty-seventh state in the nation to provide these protections when Brown signed House Bill 2038 on June 10. The measure, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2016, says that an owner of land is not liable for any personal injury, death, or property damage arising from the use of land for purposes of aviation activity, unless the owner intentionally causes the injury, death, or property damage.
David Ulane, AOPA Northwest Mountain regional manager, wrote a letter to the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee weighing in with support for the bill. Oregon Pilots Association President Mary Rosenblum worked with Ulane and other aviation community leaders to advance the legislation as well.
“As we’ve done in other states across the country, AOPA has worked with state pilot associations and the Recreational Aviation Foundation to improve liability protections for private airstrips owners, which often facilitates increased access to these general aviation assets,” said Ulane.
Improved state-level liability protections for private airstrip owners often makes them more willing to allow public access to airfields. Because airfields are seen as valuable assets to a community, the state, the public, and pilots, all benefit from their use.
“Oregon AOPA members should thank Governor Brown and their state legislators for their support of this bill,” said Ulane.
Private airstrip owner Phil Olson, who flies northwest of Salem, supported the Recreational Aviation Foundation's efforts on the legislation. He explained that the state’s bill clarifies liability for owners by providing a shield of protection they previously did not have.
“I’m aviation friendly,” said Olson. “What this bill does, is it clarifies my liability protection if someone calls for permission to land or use the airstrip,” he said. “This is a good deal for everybody.”