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Health and Medical

Part 91 Takeoff Minimums for Charitably Donated Flights

By: The CTS Team   •  

Part 91 takeoff minimums are still required, but not more stringent when accepting charitable passenger flights

As a 10 year pilot for an air ambulance company, I understand the transportation needs of the sick and injured. The flights are carefully orchestrated and involve the coordination of multiple agencies and medical personnel to get the “passenger” patient to their destination. Because we were a Part 135 Operation, we were regulated by the strictest pilot currency requirements to carry passengers, certainly a difference from the Part 91 takeoff minimums and flight requirements. 

All of our flights had to be documented: day and night flying, number of landings, type of approaches, 6-month checkrides…. they were all tracked and monitored by the FAA. I would look at the carefree, devil-may-care Part 91 pilots with longing and envy until the happy day when I became one myself! We still have currency requirements, but it sure feels like a load has been lifted.

But what happens when your corporate flight department volunteers their aircraft and time to help those in need of air transportation for medical reasons? Basically nothing, you are still subject to the Part 91 takeoff minimums and landing requirements: 3 takeoffs and landings within the previous 90 days (to a full stop at night) and of course the 6 instrument approaches, holding pattern and course interception/tracking within the last 6 months for IFR operations.

Donating your corporate aircraft to those in need is surprisingly easy. The Corporate Angel Network (corpangelnetwork.org) has transported more than 60,000 cancer patients in their 30 plus years of existence by simply matching patient needs with corporate travel. You just register, provide your flight schedule and are contacted when a match is found. At that point you say yes or no.

As of right now, there are over 7500 pilots making themselves, and their aircraft, available at no charge to the patient. That’s pretty amazing and says a lot about pilots and their generosity. It’s all incredibly uplifting to learn about the number of pilots and flight departments that are willing to donate their time and equipment for the good of others in need. Just remember the Part 91 pilot currency requirements to carry passengers remain in effect even if your passengers are catching a ride for no cost.

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