2008 Not A Good Year For Charity Flight Fatalities

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Last year, at least 24 people died in crashes of U.S.-operated non-profit medical service and aid flights, a sharp increase in that only 16 were killed during the previous eight years. This year's carnage is stirring calls for more regulation, according to an article published Friday by USA Today, but those figures may paint a slanted picture. More than two-thirds of those killed in 2008 died in one plane crash, when 15 aid workers and two pilots were lost when their aircraft crashed in the Congo. A total of seven people, including three medical patients, were killed in three flights in the U.S. over the course of three months. According to USA Today, each of those flights was arranged through the Angel Flight network and the news agency found one NTSB member who, in voicing his own opinion, "said the government should consider increasing standards on such flights." Although there's no indication any new regulations or laws are on the way, some fear any move in that direction could constrict operations that currently offer more than 20,000 safe charity flights per year.

"If we were to do anything different, it would significantly impact the number of people that we would be able to help," Christel Gollnick, executive director of Angel Flight Central, told the paper. Some charity groups told the paper they are considering making voluntary safety upgrades to their operational guidelines, but are generally opposed to new regulations for fear that could impede their ability to provide services.