Legal Matters and Regulations

Generally no, unless your organization has an FAA exemption and you and your organization fully comply with its requirements. See legal materials below for more information about fuel reimbursements and flying a groups’ aircraft as a volunteer.

No. An aircraft owned by a volunteer pilot organization cannot be flown by volunteer pilots under Part 91. The pilot is getting compensated with free flying time, so it’s an illegal charter flight. The only exception is if the volunteer pilot organization holds a Part 135 air taxi certificate and the pilot is on the volunteer pilot organization’s Part 135 certificate. See legal materials below for more information.

Yes. FAA still considers it to be compensation, but has stated that it supports “truly humanitarian efforts” and will generally not treat charitable deductions related to public benefit flights as compensation or hire for the purposes of enforcing FAR 61.113 or Part 135. Additional information can be found here.

Volunteer flights are conducted under Part 91 of the FARs. Therefore, your liability as a volunteer pilot is no different than if you were flying a friend or family member.


Additionally, the passage of The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, included a provision that volunteer pilots who conduct flights to help those in need on behalf of nonprofit organizations no longer have to worry about liability in excess of the limits of their insurance coverage. Non-pilot volunteers have long enjoyed the same protection under the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997.

See Volunteer Pilot Liability Amendment and Talking Points.

Article: Volunteer Pilots & Liability

Yes, it is legal to bring an oxygen bottle on board but it is at the pilot’s discretion.

Legal Materials

Additional Resources

Aviation Volunteers and Organizations Honored with 2022 Public Benefit Flying Awards

The National Aeronautic Association (NAA), in partnership with the Air Care Alliance (ACA) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2022 Public Benefit Flying Awards. These awards were created to honor volunteer pilots, other volunteers, and organizations engaged in flying to help others, as well as those supporting such work. “Each year, hundreds, even […]
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30th Air Care Conference Takes Place in Los Angeles

After a two-year pandemic pause, the Air Care Alliance (ACA) resumed its annual Air Care Conference in-person in Los Angeles, California on September 30th and October 1st. The 30th iteration of the conference was hosted by ACA member group, Angel Flight West. A dozen different public benefit flying groups from all across the country attended […]
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Safety Recommendations for Volunteer Pilot Organizations

In 2010, following four accidents involving volunteer pilots, ACA worked with the NTSB to develop and distribute safety recommendations for Volunteer Pilot Organization (VPOs). Our work is never done when it comes to improving safety of volunteer flights. Here again are ACA’s recommendations. REINFORCE PILOT CURRENCY Institute procedures that reinforce pilot currency under FAR 61.57 […]
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“But I’m a Commercial Pilot…”

Latest FAA Notice Addresses Common Misconceptions On February 1st, 2022, the FAA issued a letter explaining some commonly held misunderstandings with regard to expense sharing and pilot privileges. (See Notice number: NOTC2238, reprinted here.) This letter is the latest of a series of efforts by the FAA to combat unauthorized Part 135 operations which the […]
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Beware Call Sign Mismatch

Many volunteer pilots use special call signs on their volunteer flights. Whether you use the “Compassion” call sign (CMF) , “Angel Flight” (NGF), “Aerobridge” (BGE), “Pals Hope” (PLZ), or any other call sign that is not the aircraft’s registration number, you must be careful to avoid “Callsign Mismatch” (CSMM). CSMM is a problem for airliners, […]
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2021 Awards

The Air Care Alliance (ACA), in partnership with the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2021 Public Benefit Flying Awards. These awards were created to honor volunteer pilots, other volunteers, and organizations engaged in flying to help others, as well as those supporting such work. “The toughest times often […]
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