The unexpected death of the co-pilot does not fall within the concept of "extraordinary circumstances"
The cancellation of a flight due to the unexpected death of the co-pilot does not exempt the airline from its obligation to compensate passengers.
Pursuant to the Judgment of the Court in Joined Cases C-156/22, C-157/22 and C-158/22 (TAP Portugal). Such a death, whilst tragic is inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of the airline. Death is like any unexpected illness which may affect a crew member whose presence is essential for the flight. Such unexpected absence, due to illness or death, of one or more members of staff whose presence is essential to the operation of a flight, including shortly before the departure of that flight is related to the crew planning and staff working hours, which fall within the normal exercise of the air carrier business.
Thus the conclusion is that the air carrier is not exempted from its obligation to compensate passengers for the cancellation of the flight. The Court adds that the fact that the crew member had fully completed the regular medical examinations prescribed by the applicable legislation cannot call into question that conclusion since any person may, at any time, unexpectedly fall ill or die.
The Judgement is available here.