Aviation Bulletin – May 2021

11 May 2021

Welcome to the latest edition of the HWL Ebsworth Aviation Bulletin.

We are delighted to bring you content addressing a range of current and emerging issues, trends and cases across the domestic and international aviation industries.

We trust you will find this edition of our Aviation Bulletin helpful and informative. Should you wish to discuss any of these articles in any more detail, please contact any of our partners.

NSW Supreme Court revives seaplane crash claim dismissed by the Federal Court

Last year, we wrote about a case involving a deadly seaplane crash dismissed by the Federal Court of Australia. The Federal Court held it had no jurisdiction to hear the claim, which involved a flight wholly within the State of New South Wales.

Jurisdiction arose under the applicable State civil aviation liability law, not the Commonwealth civil aviation liability law. Therefore, federal jurisdiction simply was not enlivened (and the claim could not he heard in a Federal Court).

The plaintiff in that case, however, has been provided a lifeline. The Supreme Court of New South Wales, a State Court, “deemed” those Federal Court proceedings to have actually been filed in the Supreme Court, to allow the plaintiff’s claim to survive.

Click here to read more.

Aircraft trespass claim grounded by Supreme Court: Steepe v The Commonwealth of Australia [2021] NSWSC 368

The NSW Supreme Court recently held that the sky, is indeed, the limit, for a self-represented sheep farmer (plaintiff) who tried to sue the Commonwealth of Australia for allowing Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircraft to fly aircraft over her 40 hectare Bulahdelah property.

In an exercise of blue-sky thinking, the plaintiff argued the border of their property “extends to the centre of the earth, and to the expanse of the universe”. She sought cessation of RAAF flights over her land and payment of her self-determined sum of $15,365,160.00 for continuing the alleged trespass. The plaintiff asserted the word ‘quiet’ in the tortious right to ‘quiet enjoyment’ of land should be construed on its ordinary meaning, and extended to aircraft noise.

Click here to read more.

Airfield obstructions create a flightpath to liability – Arndell v Old Bar Beach Festival [2020] NSWSC 1710 (1 December 2020)

The NSW Supreme Court recently found that a local authority which operated an airstrip and allowed land adjacent to the airstrip to be used for a festival was liable in negligence to a festivalgoer who suffered psychological injuries when an aircraft collided with a ferris wheel.

The Court also dismissed the pilot’s claim for damages in negligence against the local authority and confirmed recreational flying is a ‘dangerous recreational activity’.

Click here to read more.

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