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Free Fuel for Charity Flights

September 26, 2011 – Patient Airlift Services, a volunteer medical services flight charity, has received FAA approval allowing it to pay for the fuel for pilots who transport patients for medical treatment. The group, which calls itself PALS, received an exemption from the FAA rules that restrict reimbursement that pilots may receive when flying under the not for hire requirements of FAR Part 91.

PALS raises the funds to pay its participating pilots up to $5 per gallon for a much as 30 gallons per hour. Fuel burn for reimbursement purposes is calculated at 6 gallons per hour per 100 hp of the rated power of the airplane’s engine or engines.

In exchange for the fuel reimbursement PALS and the FAA agreed on a specific list of operating standards. On that list of requirements is that the pilot must be IFR rated, have logged at least 500 hours of total time with 400 hours at PIC, and must maintain a second class medical certificate. Participating pilots must also receive PALS specific training. Pilots must complete two PALS flights to qualify for the fuel reimbursement program, which will begin with the third flight. There is no maximum number of PALS flights a pilot can fly.

There are also requirement for the airplane including that it must have a standard airworthiness certificate, must be maintained by a certified mechanic, and all components on the airplane must be within any overall recommendation by the manufacturer. The overhaul and maintenance requirement times include any component for which there is a TBO recommendation, not just the engine.

PALS encourages its pilots to fly on an IFR flight plan, but if the flight is flown VFR a flight plan must be filed. If weather conditions are less than VFR there must be an ILS or LPV approach available at both the departure and destination airports.

The operating standards for PALS are pretty strict, but do not go nearly as far as the FAA Part 135 rules that govern flying for hire. The founders of PALS want to offer the safest possible transportation and have the ability to raise the money to pay for the fuel for pilots flying its missions.

PALS headquarters is on the east coast but the FAA exemption for its fuel reimbursement program applies across the U.S. For more information see palservices.org, call 516-300-1669, or e-mail info@palservices.org.

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