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Protection For Helicopter Search And Rescue

Concerning protection for persons assisting in volunteer helicopter search and rescue operations.
2023 Regular Session
Courts & Judicial
Natural Resources & Environment
Bill Summary

The bill extends immunity from civil liability for damage or injury, other than that which arises from gross negligence or willful misconduct, to an individual, nonprofit organization, for-profit corporation, private organization, or other person (person), acting as a volunteer, that assists a governmental entity through the use of a helicopter as part of a rescue unit or backcountry search and rescue operations (search and rescue operations) if the person:

  • Arranges or operates the helicopter on behalf of the governmental entity that is leading a search and rescue operation;
  • Has an agreement with the governmental entity;
  • Is, employs, or otherwise contracts with a pilot that is properly licensed to operate the helicopter;
  • Meets certain safety and training certifications and requirements; and
  • Is in compliance with all requirements of the federal aviation administration.

The bill also establishes criteria that volunteer helicopter pilots and the helicopters used in search and rescue operations must satisfy in order for the volunteer helicopter owner or operator to qualify for immunity under the bill.

(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)




Bill Text


Sponsor Type Legislators
Prime Sponsor

Rep. M. Lukens, Rep. R. Taggart



The effective date for bills enacted without a safety clause is August 7, 2024, if the General Assembly adjourns sine die on May 8, 2024, unless otherwise specified. Details