There is no reimbursement for fuel, as this would violate the FAA’s mandates on public benefit flying.
However, as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, your expenses are generally tax-deductible as they are considered in-kind donations to AFW. Please consult your tax professional for advice.
We are aware of the exemptions that have been sought by other public benefit flying organizations and granted by FAA. Angel Flight West’s board of directors elected not to pursue the exemption for a variety of important reasons:
- The requirements for a pilot to qualify for an exemption are quite onerous. The majority of AFW’s existing volunteer pilot population would not qualify.
- The process for enforcing the requirements and the reimbursement are significant as well.
- The fundraising to make the reimbursement meaningful to our volunteers is prohibitive. We have challenges fundraising for our existing budget. Fundraising for fuel on top of that may not be realistic. Our board thought that may be constructed as pass thru by the IRS and put our volunteers at risk.
- There are a handful of other considerations about the type of pilots trying to build hours, about fuel reimbursement taking away from the story that our flights/drives are 100% donated by our volunteers, and compliance challenges.
With that said, we do have a fuel discount program with Phillips 66, in addition to waived fees at certain FBO’s and airports. As management can change frequently at FBO’s, we are unable to maintain an up-to-date list of FBO’s that are AFW friendly. We recommend calling ahead to verify what kind of discount is offered. Be sure to identify yourself as an AFW pilot flying a mission. If we can be of any help with a call from the office or otherwise, please let us know.
Click here to read AOPA's article "Volunteer Pilot Flight or Illegal Part 135: Where is the Line?" to learn more.