Legislation Would Expand "Good Samaritan" Protections for Volunteer Pilots and Groups
These bills, H. 1871 sponsored by Rep. Thelma Drake (Va.) and S. 929 sponsored by Sen. George Allen (Va.), are identical to the legislation passed by the House of Representatives last fall.
We have been informed by the sponsors' offices that to clarify language the bills have passed the House Judiciary Committee with amendments. In essence the new language provides that pilots must carry reasonable liability insurance and that injured parties may recover damages to the limits of that insurance.
We are very pleased to note that the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), and the National Air Transport Association (NATA) gave the legislation strong support last time around and are doing so again now. We encourage other aviation and public service organizations to follow their lead.
The legislative sponsors of the Volunteer Pilot Organization Protection Act need additional sponsors from the House and Senate and have asked that all volunteer pilot organizations and pilots call or write their Representatives and Senators to ask for them to join as sponsors to support each bill and to move it to a vote without delay.
If you are not receiving our bulletins please be sure to join our email list so you will learn about such new information as soon as it becomes available.
See the full information below and use the following in composing your letters and making your calls:
House Sponsors ask volunteer pilots for help in lining up sponsors in the Senate
Dear Leaders, Volunteers, and Supporters for Public Benefit Flying,
This message is of vital importance to you, your groups, and all their volunteers.
In 2002 Congressman Ed Schrock of Virginia originally introduced the Volunteer Pilot Organization Protection Act. The legislation was intended to provide much needed liability relief for volunteer pilots and groups by amending the existing Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 (42 USC §14503), adding relief for volunteer pilots and their groups to the protections originally provided for others in that "Good Samaritan" law. This new legislation was proposed by Ed Boyer of Mercy Medical Airlift, a constituent of Rep. Schrock.
Last year the legislation passed the House 385 - 12 but stalled in the Senate. It has now been reintroduced in both houses in the current session.
If enacted, this legislation would address liability concerns that have permeated public benefit flying, particularly in these times of limited, high cost, or unavailable liability insurance. The bills have been referred to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.
We are circulating this information at the request of Sarah Hamlett of Representative Drake's office and Jason Money of Senator Allen's office so you are aware of the effort and can choose to participate.
The Air Care Alliance fully supports this initiative. The subject was discussed at length at the last three years' Air Care conferences and in email bulletins sent to the groups and their leaders. Subsequently many groups and their volunteers wrote in support of the legislation and many sponsors have signed on.
You, your organization, and its supporters can help at this time by sending a short letter urging your own Representatives and Senators to co-sponsor and vote for this legislation.
Information has already been sent directly to the various public benefit flying groups summarizing the issues and providing sample letters for use. They have been asked to circulate that information to their members and to urge them to write in support of the legislation. If you receive the information we ask that you read it carefully and lend every bit of support you can.
You can also send the link to this page via email to all the volunteer pilots and other supporters you know, and ask them to help.
We also provide here the sample letters distributed by legislative staff members, as well as instructions on how to send your letters. Regardless of how you receive the information the sponsors ask that you act immediately.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
According to legislative staff it is vital that every public benefit flying group send formal letters to their Representatives and Senators representing their states.
And it is also extremely important that actual volunteer pilots and leaders from these groups write their own letters explaining their PERSONAL REASONS for supporting the legislation.
Personal meetings with your officials are also very valuable, especially if you know them, so they can ask you any questions they may have about the legislation and its importance to you and your group. Please consider visiting them at their offices, in your community, or in Washington if you will be traveling there.
A suggested checklist for action is as follows:
1) Review the sample letters below and draft your own version of the letters explaining your or your group's reasons for supporting the legislation and why it is important for your community. Letters are much more effective than emails or calls. They can be mailed but also fax them, since mailed letters are subject to long delays for security screening.
Please be sure to include the paragraph with information about how your Representative or Senator should contact the Sponsor in order to co-sponsor the legislation. Also replace the various blanks with the names of the Representative or Senators, using the correct letter template.
Click on these Sample letters for download or copying:
2) Keep your letters short and to the point such as you see in the draft letters. You are well advised to include one "talking point" example as discussed below.
3) Attach any lengthy explanations or examples in a SEPARATE supplementary document to your letter, such as a "white paper." Feel free to also send as an attachment a discussion of your group and the important work it does for your community. But please keep your primary letter short and to the point.
4) Talking points: we provide a list of important points below. Sponsors are especially looking for personal examples of situations that illustrate these points. If you can cite one story that fits such a point, please include it in your letter. You can use your point(s) in addition to or in place of the one given in the letter.
It is better to choose one point for your letter and illustrate it well with specifics rather than to present a rehash of all the talking points. If you have many examples please include them in your attachment, not in the letter itself. You may also include in your attachment useful information about your group.
5) Address your letters to each of your Senators and your Representative, using the address information noted below, and print them out.
6) Because time is short first FAX your letters to both Senators and the Representative representing you and your area. Then mail the originals.
Fax numbers and Washington DC office addresses for all your representatives are available at the following website. Just enter your zip code or address and your representatives' contact information will appear.
FIND YOUR REPRESENTATIVES: http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/
7) Final step: please afterwards also email or fax copies of your three letters to us at the following email address or fax number and we will send copies to those involved in this effort.
email copies (PDF or .doc files] to firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions or comments? Send a note to email@example.com