July 14, 2010 (San Diego) -- Assembly Bill 1660, which expands the definition of “emergency aircraft flights for medical purposes,” was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger on Friday. The bill clarifies that an air ambulance, flying under a Lifeguard call sign, is not subject to a fine or penalty when departing an airport after hours to return to headquarters.
“Our access to public safety is the issue in question,” said Assemblymember Mary Salas (D-Chula Vista), author of the bill. “It is important that emergency workers are not hindered in doing their job.”
Current law provides an exemption for civilian air ambulance aircraft operating under a Federal Aviation Administration “Lifeguard” call sign to land after hours at certain airports without being subject to a fine. However, there is no provision providing emergency aircraft with the ability to depart airports, such as Lindbergh Field which have curfews, once their mission has been completed. Thus, emergency aircraft, which may need to return to base for the next emergency operation, are faced with either remaining at an airport or risk paying a fine.
AB 1660 was sponsored by the California Airport Council and supported by the California Medical Association, the California Pilots Association and the California State Sheriff’s Association. The measure passed both houses of the Legislature unanimously.