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Air Canada Jet Avoids Disaster at San Francisco International Airport

July 11, 2017
3 min read
Air Canada Jet Avoids Disaster at San Francisco International Airport
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An Air Canada jet was involved in an incident which aviation experts claim could have been the "greatest aviation disaster in history" late last Friday at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

Air Canada Flight 759, with 140 people on board, was cleared to land on runway 28R at SFO after a five-hour flight from Toronto (YYZ), but instead lined up with Taxiway C, which runs parallel to the 12,000ft-long runway. On that same taxiway were four other airliners, full of passengers and fuel, waiting to take off, including a United Boeing 787-9 bound for Singapore. The FAA said that the pilot was in the process of landing the aircraft manually (without instruments) and lined up incorrectly.

As the Airbus A320 approached the airport, audio from air traffic communication recorded the Air Canada pilot asking ATC if he was cleared to land because he saw aircraft lights on the runway.

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 28R. There is no one on 28R but you.
Air Canada pilot: Okay 759
Unknown: Where is this guy going? He’s on the taxiway.
United Airlines Pilot: United One, Air Canada flew directly over us.
Control tower: Yeah, I saw that, guys.

The air traffic controller instructed the pilots to perform a "go-around" — a move where the aircraft aborts the landing, climbs again and circles the airport before attempting the landing again. The twin-engine jet landed safely on its second attempt.

The FAA is investigating this incident to determine how close the arriving jet got to the planes on the ground on Taxiway C. Peter Fitzpatrick, an Air Canada spokesman, said the flight "landed normally without incident" after the go-around and have no additional information to offer as the airline is still investigating the circumstances that led to the series of events.

H/T: The Mercury News