NTSB sees how Air Canada narrowly escaped ‘greatest aviation disaster in history’ in San Francisco

Published on : Thursday, August 3, 2017

national-airlines-council-of-canadaA newly released investigation data showed how extremely low an Air Canada jet was when it pulled up to avoid crashing into planes waiting on a San Francisco International Airport taxiway last month.


According to the data released by the National Transportation Safety Board information, the Air Canada pilots mistook the taxiway for the runway which is just next to it and flew their jet to just 59 feet (18 meters) above ground before pulling up to attempt another landing.


As the pilots in a United Airlines plane alerted air traffic controllers about the off-course jet, the crew of a Philippine Airlines jet, which was just behind it switched on their plane’s landing lights in an apparent last-ditch danger signal to Air Canada.


The investigators from NTSB said that they have not determined probable cause for the incident, which could otherwise would have been one of the worst disasters in aviation history. It is seemed that when the Air Canada jet approached the taxiway just before midnight after a flight from Toronto, it did not even appear on the radar system which is used to signal the prevention of runway collisions.


Both pilots of the Air Canada Airbus A320 jet were very experienced. The captain, who was flying the plane, had more than 20,000 hours of flying time, and the co-pilot had about 10,000 hours. Retired United Airlines captain Ross Aimer, now CEO of Aero Consulting Experts, said at the time, “If it is true, what happened probably came close to the greatest aviation disaster in history.”

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