Plane narrowly misses “greatest aviation disaster in history”

The San Francisco International airport or SFO at dusk

An Air Canada plane narrowly avoided one heck of a crash after it accidentally lined up to land on the taxiway and not the runway cleared for landing.

The mistake almost saw the A320, coming into San Francisco International Airport from Toronto, crash into four other planes lining up for take-off, packed with fuel and passengers.

According to Mercury News, the pilot gained clearance to land on the empty runway, before confirming that it was actually clear after he claimed to see plane lights on the runway.

“There’s no one on 28R but you,” the air controller responded.

In the audio sourced by Mercury News, a third unidentified voice suddenly chimes into the back-and-forth, asking, “Where’s this guy going? He’s on the taxiway.”

The air controller acted quickly, per Mercury News, telling the AC pilot to loop back around because he was “lined up for Charlie (Taxiway C) there”.

A United Airlines pilot radioed in, adding “United One, Air Canada flew directly over us.”

“Yeah, I saw that, guys,” the control tower responded.

Speaking to Mercury News, retired United Airlines Captain Ross Aimer, now COE of Aero Consulting Experts, said it could’ve been much worse.

“What happened probably came close to the greatest aviation disaster in history,” he said.

“If you could imagine an Airbus colliding with four passenger aircraft-wide bodies, full of fuel and passengers, then you can imagine how horrific this could have been.”

“This is pretty huge. My buddies called and asked if I knew about it,” the former pilot added to Mercury News.

“They’re a sitting duck on the taxiway. They can’t go anywhere.”

Reports claim the US Federal Aviation Administration is now investigating the incident. In our opinion, it was a human error, and it’s just lucky no one was hurt and the pilot corrected the mistake.

Crew also claim, per Mercury News, to not have even known about it, only noticing the plane jerk up suddenly instead of landing, before circling and landing.

Peter Fitzpatrick, an Air Canada spokesman, told the publication that Flight AC759 from Toronto “landed normally without incident” after the go-around.

“We are still investigating the circumstances and therefore have no additional information to offer,” he said.

The latest from Mercury News claims the pilot got the plane as low as 175 feet (about 53 metres) before pulling up and flying over three United Airlines and one Philippine Airlines plane.

 

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

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