Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Air Canada flight nearly lands on crowded taxiway at San Francisco International Airport

By Matt Hamilton

Los Angeles Times
July 10, 2017

An Air Canada plane touching down at San Francisco International Airport almost landed on a taxiway crowded with four other planes, a near-catastrophe that is now under federal investigation.

Air Canada flight 759 en route from Toronto was cleared to land just before midnight Friday at runway 28R, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

But the pilot had lined up the Airbus A320 for a taxiway that runs parallel to the runway, where four planes had queued and were awaiting clearance for departure, the FAA said.

It’s unclear how close the Air Canada flight came to the ground, and the FAA is trying to ascertain that distance in an ongoing probe.

Ross Aimer, a retired United Airlines captain, told the San Jose Mercury-News, which first reported the incident, that if the pilot was not told to correct course, the scene would have been “horrific.”

“If it is true, what happened probably came close to the greatest aviation disaster in history,” Aimer told the newspaper.

An Air Canada representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

Audio from the airport’s traffic control tower, which was archived online and reviewed by The Times, reveals more of how the incident unfolded as the plane approached:

Air Canada pilot: Tower Air Canada 759 I can see lights on the runway there. Can you confirm we’re clear to land?

Control tower: Air Canada 759 confirmed cleared to land on 28-right. There is no one on 28-right but you.

Air Canada pilot: OK, Air Canada 759

Unknown: Where is this guy going? He’s on the taxiway!

Control tower: Air Canada, go around.

The FAA said the air traffic controller told the Air Canada jet to circle around and make another approach.

Air Canada pilot: Going around. Air Canada 759.

Control tower: Air Canada, it looks like you were lined up for Charlie there. Fly heading 280. Climb maintain 3,000.

Air Canada pilot: Heading 2-8-0. 3,000. Air Canada 759.

United pilot: United One, Air Canada flew directly over us.

Control tower: Yeah, I saw that guys.

The aircraft then landed at the airport without incident at 12:11 a.m. Saturday, about 50 minutes later than scheduled, according to the online flight path.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Oh holy shit right, this could have been the biggest disaster in aviation history with well over a thousand people killed.

1 comment:

bob walsh said...

Right now the largest airline disaster is a ground collision on Tenerife quite some while back. Killed over 500 on two planes. Midair collisions or crashes by definition pretty much involve only one or two planes. As noted, ground collisions can involved several. Potentially very nasty.