CJEU: bird strikes qualify as "extraordinary circumstances"

Michael Wukoschitz's picture

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 - Pešková

Full 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