England: Hot Air Balloon - Carriage By Air

John Downes's picture

Laroche v Spirit of Adventure (UK) Ltd [2008] EWCA Civ. 12

The court held that there was no logical reason to hold that a hot air balloon was not an aircraft for the purposes of the Carriage by Air Acts, which implements the Montreal Convention in the UK. A hot air balloon is designed for the carriage of passengers and thus any claim made for injury must be made within the framework of the Carriage by Air Acts.

The Court of Appeal held that the purpose for which the passenger was taking the flight (in this case, recreational purposes) had no bearing on whether the Convention (as implemented in the UK) applied or not. It did not matter that the flight route was not predetermined. The court applied the decision in Fellowes v Clyde Helicopters. The natural and ordinary meaning of the word “aircraft” was wide enough to include a passenger hot air balloon. It was designed for and capable of carrying passengers from one place to another. It was capable of being used for international air transport and was so used from time to time. A contract of carriage does not require a specification as to departure and destination. The purpose of Article 1(2) of the Convention was merely to define the carriage as international. It does not provide that the two points within the territory of a single State had to be agreed beforehand for the Convention to apply.

L was a passenger on board the aircraft. He was not on board as a pilot under instruction, did not contribute to the flight in any way and was not therefore a crew member

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