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Air Canada jet in close call at San Francisco airport

12 July 2017

The Ottawa International Airport's main runway is closed for the summer as part of two multimillion-dollar reconstruction projects on the tarmac.

Audio recordings of the incident reveal confusion among the Air Canada pilots about lights on the runway and suggest the A320 came close to at least one aircraft on the taxiway. Tomlinson Group will lead the project, which includes new lighting, the installation of storm sewers and new line painting.

"Air Canada flight AC759 from Toronto was preparing to land at San Francisco airport Friday night when the aircraft initiated a go-around", Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesperson with Air Canada said in an email.

Sitting on Taxiway C shortly before midnight on Friday (Saturday NZ Time) were four fully-loaded airplanes full of passengers and gas awaiting permission to take off, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, which is investigating the "rare" incident. He's told there are no other planes on the runway.

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

"Yeah, I saw that guys", responded the air controller. "It looks like you were lined up for Charlie [Taxiway C] there", the air traffic controller told the pilot.

Air Canada flight San Francisco Airport runway
GETTYAir Canada flight 759 came into land at Taxiway C where four other planes were waiting

Air Canada says the flight did eventually land safely, and the airline is also looking into what happened. He said he's been contacted by pilots from across the country about the incident.

"If you can imagine an Airbus colliding with four aircraft full of fuel and passengers, you can imagine how this would have been horrifying", he added.

"This is pretty huge". The Air Canada plane was capable of holding as many as 220 passengers, plus crew.

It then crashed into Mount Takamagahara in Ueno, Gunma Prefecture, around 62 miles from Tokyo.

An investigation later revealed that the plane had been involved in a collision at an airport seven years earlier and not repaired to Boeing standard, leaving its bulkhead compromised and liable to rupture.

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

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Air Canada jet in close call at San Francisco airport