Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Estate of pilot who dies in plane crash is not entitled to insurance because the pilot's medical certificate had expired before the crash

The estate of a pilot who died when he accidentally crashed his aircraft cannot collect insurance because the deceased pilot's medical certificate had expired more than a year before the accident, the Alberta Appeal Court has ruled.

The deceased pilot's insurance policy, against which the estate made a claim, contains an exclusion clause related to holding a valid pilot's license. The wording of the exclusion makes no reference to having an updated medical certificate.

Specifically, the policy states that it "applies only if your aircraft is flown by an approved pilot . . . who has the required license . . . to fly."

The pilot did have an appropriate license, although his licence was never recovered. The Alberta Court of Appeal had to determine whether the expired medical certificate rendered the pilot's license invalid. The deceased pilot's estate argued that it did not.

The Appeal Court noted the law did not require specific language about medical certificates to be included as part of the license. It then reviewed the wording of a standard pilot's license issued by Transport Canada.

The Transport Canada license included the following wording: "This licence is valid only for the period specified in the medical certificate (Form 26-0055) which must accompany this licence."

The court further noted: "the license and the medical certificate are physically the same document. And each by its wording incorporates the other by reference."

Thus, the court determined, the licence was invalid because of the lapsed medical certificate.

"An expressly conditional license [is not] a license, if the condition is plainly not satisfied," the court ruled. "Such a paper may be decorative, or a precious souvenir, but it is not a license... A former license is not a license and does not let one fly. In law, it is wastepaper."

The full case can be read at:

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