U.S. NTSB faults Air Canada pilots for final 12 months's close to catastrophe

Federal security officers within the U.S. blame two Air Canada pilots for coming inside three to 6 metres of crashing their jetliner right into a airplane on the bottom final 12 months in San Francisco.

The Air Canada pilots have been apparently confused as a result of considered one of two parallel runways was closed and darkish earlier than the late-night incident. The crew was seconds from touchdown their Airbus A320 jet on a taxiway the place different planes loaded with passengers have been ready to take off.

“We couldn’t have gotten, actually or figuratively, any nearer to having a significant catastrophe,” the security board’s vice-chairman, Bruce Landsberg, mentioned throughout a listening to Tuesday in Washington.

Underscoring the severity of the incident, the NTSB’s prime aviation-safety staffer, John DeLisi, mentioned it was the primary time the board thought of a significant investigation for an occasion by which there have been no accidents or broken planes.

Mistook taxiway for runway

The board mentioned the Air Canada crew mistook the taxiway for a runway as a result of they did not adequately overview a warning to all pilots about one of many runways being closed for building. The board cited different errors and crew fatigue as contributing components.

Air Canada didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.

Matt Hogan, chair of the Air Canada Pilots Affiliation’s elected council, urged the Canadian authorities to alter its laws round fatigue, saying it might assist guarantee the security of each passengers and pilots.


The U.S. security board really useful the event of know-how to warn pilots and air visitors controllers when a touchdown airplane seems to be aimed toward a taxiway as an alternative of a runway. It additionally mentioned the Federal Aviation Administration ought to think about higher lighting and markings to warn pilots about closed runways.

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Video reveals Air Canada airplane narrowly lacking a number of planes because it makes an attempt to land on taxiway as an alternative of runway 1:16

The cockpit voice recorder may need helped investigators higher perceive how the close to accident unfolded. Nevertheless, the recording was taped over as a result of the NTSB wasn’t notified of the incident for practically two days.

“After we realized of a passenger airliner virtually touching down on a taxiway occupied by 4 different airliners, we elected to launch a full investigation,” DeLisi mentioned.

The July 2017 incident occurred simply earlier than midnight native time; it might’ve felt like three a.m. to the pilots, who had taken off from Toronto. The protection board really useful that Canada strengthen guidelines to forestall pilot fatigue.

The protection board’s chairman, Robert Sumwalt, urged the FAA and Canadian officers to undertake the suggestions “in order that we should not have to relearn the teachings of this incident at a far larger price.”

The Air Canada crew was cleared to land on 28R, to the precise of 28L. In accordance with a preliminary NTSB report, the pilots thought the lighted runway was 28L — not theirs — they usually aimed their jet to land to the precise of that, on a parallel taxiway the place the opposite planes have been ready to take off.

In accordance with the NTSB, the pilots informed investigators that they did not see planes on the taxiway, however that one thing didn’t look proper.

A United Airways pilot in one of many planes warned air visitors controllers in regards to the Air Canada jet, and pilots on a Philippine Airways jet switched on their touchdown lights in an obvious warning manoeuvre.

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Deserted touchdown

The Air Canada pilots deserted the touchdown and pulled their airplane up simply in time to keep away from disaster. An NTSB workers member mentioned Tuesday that they calculated the airplane flew three to 6 metres above the primary of the 4 ready jetliners, then circled and returned for a secure touchdown.

Each pilots of the Air Canada Airbus A320 have been skilled. The captain, who was flying the airplane, had greater than 20,000 hours of flying time, and the co-pilot had about 10,000 hours.

In Could, federal officers blamed pilot error for 3 different shut calls within the earlier 16 months on the San Francisco airport. Pilots say that the airport, with parallel runways shut to one another, requires particular consideration throughout landings.

The Air Canada incident led the FAA to problem new guidelines for the airport protecting nighttime landings when one of many runways is closed and higher late-night management tower staffing.

This composite of file photos launched by the NTSB reveals Air Canada Flight 759 trying to land on the San Francisco Worldwide Airport on July 7, 2017. At prime is a map of the runway created from radar monitor information evaluation. At centre is a transcription from a transmission to air visitors management from a United Airways airplane on the taxiway. The underside picture reveals the Air Canada airplane flying simply above the United flight ready on the taxiway. (NTSB through the Related Press)

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