One Dead Hedgehog + One Flock of Seagulls + One Airbus =’s $4.1 Million

February 2, 2005

Five insurance companies are set to recover 2.3 million euros ($3 million) from the French government, while Air France will collect 850,000 euros ($1.1 million) as the result of a court ruling in Marseille stemming from the near crash of an Airbus A320 in 1998.

A report from Agence France Presse (AFP) described the incident as involving a dead hedgehog and a flock of hungry seagulls, attracted by the carrion. Unfortunately the latter was located at the end of the runway of the Marseille airport, which was also being used by the A320. The pilot had to abort his takeoff at the last minute when a number of the unfortunate seagulls were sucked into the plane’s right engine, destroying it.

The insurers had already paid the claims involved, but the court ruled that the French government, which runs the country’s airports, was responsible for keeping the runways clear, and should have noticed “such a large group of birds” in the path of the jet.

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