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Sheremetyevo Appeals Aeroflot Victory Over Birds

An Aeroflot plane takes off from Sheremetyevo airport. Andrei Makhonin

Sheremetyevo Airport appealed a decision awarding Aeroflot 270,000 rubles ($9,100) after the airline sued for failing to clear birds from the runways.

Aeroflot said the airport was responsible after a bird strike damaged its plane, but the airport denied responsibility for the damage in its appeal, Izvestia reported Thursday.

The case stems from an August 2009 incident in which an Aeroflot Airbus A-320 set to fly to Paris struck a flock of birds during takeoff after getting the go-ahead from ground controllers. Passengers and crew noticed a burning smell and saw smoke coming from the engines, and the dispatcher reported seeing flames from the engines. The plane was forced to make an emergency landing. There were no injuries.

An inspection after the incident revealed a bird strike to the right engine. Aeroflot put the damages from the disrupted flight at 270,000 rubles — the amount it asked for when it sued the airport.

Aeroflot employees declined to comment to Izvestia. A Sheremetyevo representative told the paper that they disagreed with the decision and had made no violations.

“We have 12 stationary and one mobile bio-acoustic apparatuses, as well as 80 mechanical bird-scaring devices,” an airport spokesperson said.

“Each one of these scares off birds in a radius of 220 meters. Another 20 pieces of equipment scare off the rats that the birds feed on,” the spokesperson said.

This is not the only case of a bird strike to an Aeroflot plane at Sheremetyevo. The company filed a complaint about a similar bird strike that occurred during an April 2011 flight from the airport after a damaged engine forced an emergency landing.

n In the past decade through March, Aeroflot has returned 344 percent on its stock, the second-highest rate in the world, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

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