CJEU: bird strikes qualify as “extraordinary circumstances”

In a highly anticipated judgement, the CJEU held today that a collision between an aircraft and a bird, as well as any damage caused by that collision, are not intrinsically linked to the operating system of the aircraft, with the result that such a collision is not by its nature or origin inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of the air carrier concerned and is outside its actual control. Accordingly, a collision between an aircraft and a bird is an extraordinary circumstance within the meaning of the regulation.Although the air carrier may be required to take certain preventative measures in order to reduce or even prevent the risks of any collisions with birds, it is not responsible for the failure of other enti ties (such as, inter alia, airport managers or the competent air traffic controllers) to fulfil their obligations to take the preventative measures for which they are responsible.This result comes unexpected as the Advocate General had explicitly recommended not to regard bird strikes as “extraordinary circumstances” because they were a well known risk characteristic of aviation.Source: CJEU press release No 44/17 related to case C-315/15 – PeškováFull text of judgement availbale here: http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid= 190327&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=req&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=162257

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