I am sure I read somewhere that you are safer to be on a plane when it is in the air than when it is at the airport. Well, this incident proves the point.
There was a near-collision of airliners at San Francisco International Airport on the night of July 7, 2017, where an Air Canada plane was just a few feet from causing the worst crash in aviation history.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board issued a final report last Thursday on the incident where board member, Earl Weener said: “Over 1,000 people were at imminent risk of serious injury or death.”
The pilots were slow to report the incident. By the time they did, the plane had made another flight and the cockpit voice recording was recorded over.
The video below shows the Air Canada plane landing in the top left-hand side of the screen. It seems to narrowly miss taxiway aircraft before heading up into the sky again. You need to get to around 0.55 before you see the event unfolding.
Investigators had to try and understand why the Air Canada pilots missed the runway and were about to land on a taxiway where four other planes were waiting. Frighteningly, the plane was just 18.2 metres above the ground while passing these other planes.
“Only a few feet of separation prevented this from possibly becoming the worst aviation accident in history,” NTSB vice-chairman Bruce Landsberg said in a statement accompanying the report.
Other pilots were alert enough to turn on lights to warn the off-course Air Canada jet.
The deadliest aviation accident ever occurred in 1977, when two Boeing planes collided on a runway in Tenerife killing 583 people.
Rather than criticizing Air Canada, the safety board criticized the FAA for having just one controller on duty at the time of the incident. They have also recommended better lighting to tell pilots when a runway is closed at night.
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Image and video courtesy of NTSB
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