SFO Narrowly Avoids Largest Aviation Disaster In History

The FAA is investigating an incident that occurred at San Francisco International Airport over the weekend in which an Air Canada flight nearly crashed into a taxiway full of other aircraft.

Air Canada flight 759 was inbound from Toronto and was set to land on runway 28R a bit after 11 p.m. Friday.  However, the pilot accidentally lined up for a taxiway that ran parallel with runway 28R.  The taxiway had four other planes lined up, waiting for clearance for departure.

Ultimately, the Air Canada pilot noticed something was wrong.

A portion of the communication with air traffic control has been transcribed below.

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.

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.

Listen to the full air traffic control audio of the incident here.

The plane finally landed at 12:11 a.m. Saturday, almost a full hour later than scheduled.

Ross Aimer is a retired United Airlines captain.

He said, "If it is true, what happened probably came close to the greatest aviation disaster in history."

Read the full story at Los Angeles Times

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