It was definitely a close call that could have otherwise led to disaster. An Air Canada pilot on Friday narrowly made a tragic error: landing on the San Francisco International Airport taxiway instead of the runway. An aviation expert called it a near-miss of what could have been the largest aviation disaster ever.
There were four airplanes full of passenger and fuel sitting on Taxiway that time before midnight.The Federal Aviation Administration says those planes were just waiting for permission to take off. An air traffic controller then gave the descending Air Canada Airbus 320 on a “go-around” - something unusual since pilots must pull up and circle around to try again, before the safe landing.
FAA is still investigating the rare incident. The investigators are trying to establish how close the Air Canada aircraft came close to landing and possibly crashing into the four aircraft below. The glaring pilot error, however, is already causing quite a stir in the aviation industry.
Retired United Airlines Capt. Ross Aimer, CEO of Aero Consulting Experts said: “If it is true, what happened probably came close to the greatest aviation disaster in history. 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.”
The FAA says the aircraft had been allowed to land on Runway 28 R, which runs parallel to the taxiway. The pilot, flying the plane manually on a clear night, lined up wrong.
Audio from the traffic controller communication recorded the confused pilot of Air Canada asking if he is clear to land on 28R because he sees airplane lights on the runway. The audio was archived by a user on LiveATC.net.
The air controller was heard responding:” There’s no one on 28R but you.” An unidentified voice, presumably another pilot, then butted in: “Where’s this guy going? He’s on the taxiway.” The air controller then quickly instructs the AIr Canada pilot to go around, and says: “It looks like you were lined up for Charlie ( Taxiway C) there.
A United Airline pilot could also be heard saying: “united Obe, Air Canada flew directly over us.”
The incident has become a huge issue among airline circles.