San Francisco: "Greatest aviation disaster in history" has been averted

US media reported a massive aviation disaster that was prevented over the weekend at the San Francisco airport. According to reports, an Air Canada plane loaded with passengers almost landed on the wrong runway and was close to colliding with four other passenger planes awaiting departure. No injuries were reported and the incident is being investigated.
Air Canada passenger plane | Archive Photo Credit: Reuters/ Channel 2 News

A large-scale aviation disaster was averted last Friday at the San Francisco International Airport in the United States. The US media reported on Tuesday that an Air Canada plane had been close to landing on the wrong tarmac when an alert flight supervisor from Air Traffic Control hailed the pilot and managed to prevent what could have been a deadly four-way collision.

According to reports, an Airbus 320 aircraft was preparing for landing at the busy airport. For an unknown reason, the pilot of Air Canada flight AC759 straightened the plane out and began his descent towards the taxiway, which runs parallel to the runway, instead of the runway itself. At the same time, four planes loaded with passengers were awaiting confirmation to depart from Air Traffic Control.

A few seconds before the plane touched down on the wrong runway, the on-call flight supervisor noticed the mistake and directed the pilot to abort the landing, climb back to a safe altitude and try the landing procedure again.

"If it is true, what happened probably came close to the greatest aviation disaster in history," said CEO of Aero Consulting Experts and retired United Airlines Capt. Ross Aimer. "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," he said.

In a recording from the incident, a United Airlines pilot in one of the the taxied planes could be heard saying: "United One, Air Canada just flew directly over us," while another voice can be heard exclaiming: "Where's this guy going? He's on the taxiway."

The Federal Aviation Administration and Air Canada have begun investigating the incident. It is unclear at this stage how close the Canadian plane came to reaching the planes on the ground.



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