WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee and certified pilot with over 11,000 flight hours, today introduced two bills that will benefit Oklahoma’s aviation community. Inhofe introduced S. 1431, the Volunteer Pilot Protection Act of 2017, which extends limited liability protections to pilots who volunteer with nonprofit volunteer pilot organizations to fly individuals in need of medical treatment or for other charitable purposes. Inhofe also introduced S. 1432, which would ensure that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aircraft Registry Office in Oklahoma City remains open in the event of a government shutdown. Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.
“The Volunteer Pilot Protection Act is a good Samaritan law for pilots who currently assume great financial risk by volunteering to transport those in need of medical treatment, as appropriate insurance is not available,” Inhofe said, “This bill will break down a barrier that limits the important charitable efforts of Oklahoma pilots.
“S. 1432 ensures that the Oklahoma City FAA Aircraft Registry Office, which maintains a commercial and general aviation aircraft registry database, remains open during a government shutdown. Not only is this office essential to ensuring to the day-to-day operations of the aviation industry, but the database it houses is essential to maintaining our national security interests in the event of a 9/11-style terrorist attack.”
“We must ensure that the FAA Aircraft Registry Office always remain open and operational for the sake of the aviation industry, our international legal obligations, and our national security,” said Russell. “No government shutdown should ever be allowed to disrupt these vital responsibilities.”
Both bills have received strong industry support
“The Air Care Alliance applauds Sen. Inhofe’s introduction of the Volunteer Pilot Protection Act of 2017 and his unwavering support for General Aviation enabling volunteer pilots to help others and their communities,” said Jeff Kahn, chairman of the Air Care Alliance. “Passage of the Volunteer Pilot Protection Act will allow many pilots to volunteer who are now concerned that, even though they are insured, they put their entire personal assets at risk by doing good deeds that save lives and benefit us all.”
"Imagine if we were confronted with a situation in which cars could not be bought, sold, or in some cases, even moved. That is the situation with airplanes if the government shuts down, resulting in a closure of the aircraft registry," National Business Aviation Association President and CEO Ed Bolen said. "Sen. Inhofe is once again showing great leadership with his legislation to ensure we avoid that kind of situation, and NBAA is proud to endorse it."
“During the federal government shutdown in 2013, we saw an unprecedented closure of the FAA Aircraft Registry Office in Oklahoma City and furlough of its employees,” said GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce. “This hit our industry hard since every aircraft that is exported or imported must obtain FAA approval and receive a certificate of aircraft registration to process financing, obtain title and a bill of sale. This impacted every manufacturer and their customers, as well as private pilots who sought to sell their own aircraft. The impact of this economic disruption to the flow of products was significant to the U.S. economy. We must not let this happen again should there be another government shutdown, which is why GAMA strongly supports this legislation.”