US 'He's on the taxiway!': Jet came within 100 feet of two planes at San Francisco airport, officials say

10:21  14 july  2017
10:21  14 july  2017 Source:   Tribune News Service

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An Air Canada plane with 140 people on board came within 100 feet of crashing onto two of four planes lined up to take off at San Francisco International Airport last week, according to a preliminary report Canadian air safety regulators released Thursday.

An Air Canada plane with 140 people on board came within 100 feet of crashing onto two of four planes lined up to take off at San Francisco International Airport last week, according to a preliminary report Canadian air safety regulators released Thursday.

Vehicles wait outside the international terminal at San Francisco International Airport Tuesday, July 11, 2017, in San Francisco.© AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez Vehicles wait outside the international terminal at San Francisco International Airport Tuesday, July 11, 2017, in San Francisco.

An Air Canada flight with 140 passengers and crew came within 100 feet of smashing into two planes waiting to depart from San Francisco International Airport, according to a preliminary report released Thursday by Canadian authorities.

The perilous proximity of Air Canada Flight 759 to other jets during a July 7 landing was summarized by Canada's Transportation Safety Board, which provides an early look at what could have been a catastrophe.

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  FAA investigates close call at San Francisco airport It was just before midnight when other pilots sounded the alarm and possibly prevented a horrific accident .Air Canada flight 759, with 140 people on board, was coming in from Toronto. The airbus A-320 was cleared to land on runway 28R at San Francisco International, but instead lined up for the taxiway that parallels the runway.  There were four other airliners on that taxiway waiting to takeoff.Air traffic control audio captured what happened next."Tower Air Canada 759, I see lights on the runway there. Can you confirm we are clear to land?" the pilot asked."Air Canada 759 confirmed cleared to land 28R.

An Air Canada plane with 140 people on board came within 100 feet of crashing onto two of four planes lined up to take off at San Francisco International Airport last week.

An Air Canada plane with 140 people on board came within 100 feet (approximately 30 meters) of crashing onto two of four planes lined up to take off at San . Departing and parked aircraft intersect at San Francisco International Airport on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the agency cautioned that the information was preliminary and "subject to change."

The Airbus A320 was cleared to land shortly before midnight, but the pilot lined up the aircraft on a taxiway that runs parallel to the runway. There, four fully loaded planes were queued up and waiting for clearance to take off.

Canada's TSB said the Air Canada flight flew over the taxiway for about a quarter mile before an air traffic controller instructed the pilot to go around.

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The San Francisco airport has two runways that run parallel to each other: 28-Right and 28-Left. Also running parallel to Runway 28-Right is a taxiway – Taxiway C – where planes line up single file to await clearance to take off.

SAN FRANCISCO — An Air Canada plane with 140 people on board came within 30 metres of crashing onto two of four planes lined up to take off at San Francisco International Airport last week, according to a preliminary report Canadian air safety regulators released Thursday.

The plane was estimated to be about 100 feet from two aircraft, 200 feet from a third aircraft and 300 feet from the fourth plane, according to the TSB report.

A summary by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration that was included with the Canadian officials' report said the aircraft overflew United Flight 1 and Philippine Airlines Flight 115 by 100 feet. It also overflew United Flight 863 by 200 feet and United Flight 118 by 300 feet before air traffic control directed the pilot to go around.

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An Air Canada plane with 140 people on board came within 100 feet of crashing onto two of four planes lined up to take off at San Francisco International Airport last week, according to a preliminary report Canadian air safety regulators released Thursday.

An Air Canada plane , not pictured here, with 140 people on board came within 100 feet of crashing onto two of four planes lined up to take off at San Francisco International Airport last week (TONY BOCK / TORONTO STAR file photo).

Earlier this week, the National Transportation Safety Board joined the investigation into the incident.

As part of its inquiry, the NTSB will review the approach for landing and interview air traffic controllers and possibly the pilots of the Air Canada flight. Though there was no crash, the agency has the authority to look into serious safety lapses.

Ross Aimer, a retired United Airlines captain, told the San Jose Mercury-News, which first reported the incident, that if the pilot had not been told to correct course, the scene would have been "horrific."

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

Peter Fitzpatrick, an Air Canada spokesman, said Tuesday that the airline did not have any new information about the incident. A spokesman for the airline did not immediately respond for comment Thursday.

Audio from the airport's traffic control tower, which was archived online and reviewed by The Times, reveals more details of how the incident unfolded as the plane approached:

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An Air Canada plane with 140 people on board came within 100 feet of crashing onto two of four planes lined up to take off at San Francisco International Airport last week, according to a preliminary report Canadian air safety regulators released Thursday.

Associated Press. Thursday, July 13, 2017 | 6:37 p.m. An Air Canada plane with 140 people on board came within 100 feet of crashing onto two of four planes lined up to take off at San Francisco International Airport last week

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.

The FAA said the air traffic controller told the Air Canada jet to circle around and make another approach.

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.

The aircraft then landed at the airport without incident at 12:11 a.m. Saturday, about 50 minutes later than scheduled, according to the online flight path.

matt.hamilton@latimes.com

Twitter: @MattHjourno

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