Air Canada flight nearly lands on crowded San Francisco taxiway

Columbia Metropolitan Airport

Columbia Metropolitan Airport

An investigation into what could have been a tragedy at San Francisco International Airport revealed a plane that almost landed on a crowded taxiway was only a 100 feet from the fully loaded planes preparing for take-off below. The pilot inadvertently "lined up" for Taxiway C, which parallels Runway 28R and had four other planes waiting to depart at that time, according to the FAA.

The FAA is now investigating the distance between the Air Canada aircraft and the aircraft lined up on the taxiway, which runs parallel to the runway.

Such incidents are incredibly rare, but could end in disaster if left unchecked.

An incident in which an Air Canada plane nearly landed on a busy taxiway in San Francisco has been described as "very rare".

It was not immediately clear how many people were in the four planes on the taxiway.

Air safety consultant Todd Curtis said it was "definitely a serious event since a landing on an active taxiway could lead to a catastrophic accident". The flight from Toronto landed successfully without incident on its second approach.

Air Canada, which is also investigating the incident, said its aircraft was carrying 135 passengers and five crew members.

The air traffic controller told the plane to "go around" and make another attempt at landing. "As the investigation is still ongoing, we will not be making any additional statements on the incident at this time". Seconds later, another voice — apparently one of the pilots on the taxiway — interjects, "Where's this guy going?"

It appears that the runway Air Canada thought it was lining up to land on was not the runway that the air traffic controller was referring to in their communication. "He's on the taxiway".

In audio of the incident, the Air Canada pilot spoke to the control tower to double-check its assigned landing runway.

A pilot from one of the planes on the ground is then heard saying: "United One, Air Canada flew directly over us".

Ross Aimer, a retired United Airlines captain and chief executive of Aero Consulting Experts, told the San Jose Mercury News that the incident could have been one of the worst in history. "So to see that we nearly landed on four planes full of passengers is a little disturbing", said Jones.

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