12 Jul 2017

‘Greatest Aviation Disaster in History’ Narrowly Averted at San Francisco Airport

san francisco airport

An Air Canada Airbus A320 almost landed on four other planes, filled with passengers and aviation fuel, at San Francisco Airport. The pilot thought he was approaching a runway to land, but instead was approaching a taxiway where four other planes were queueing for take-off.

Air Traffic Control audio recording reveal the pilot asking “Just want to confirm, this is Air Canada 759 we see some lights on the runway there. Confirming good to land?”

The control tower replied: “Air Canada 759 confirmed cleared to land runway 28-Right. There is no one on 28-Right but you.”

One of the pilots of the waiting planes is heard asking, “Where is this guy going? He’s on the taxiway.” Air traffic control intervened, and ordered the plane to “go around”, after which it soared back up into the air. One of the pilots said on the audio: “Air Canada flew directly over us” to which the tower responded: “Yeah, I saw that guys”.

A preliminary report from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada suggested the plane only cleared the waiting planes by as little as 100 feet. Retired United Airlines Captain Ross Aimer, CEO of Aero Consulting Experts told The Mercury News: “If it is true, what happened probably came close to the greatest aviation disaster in history.“

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