The moment an Air Canada jet nearly landed on four other passenger planes on Friday has been captured in audio. Pilots and the control tower at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) can be heard remarking in astonishment as the AC759 narrowly misses them on the taxiway. The dramatic moment – which could have claimed more than a thousand lives – was very nearly a history-making catastrophe. “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, said.
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The incident occurred at 11:56 p.m. on Friday, as the Air Canada jet – an Airbus A320 was coming into land at SFO. Typically, incoming international planes are directed to one of two runways: 28L or 28R, referred to verbally as “28-Left” or “28-Right.” In the audio, the Air Canada pilot can be heard asking SFO control if he’s heading towards the right runway. “Tower control, I just want to confirm that – this is Air Canada 759, I can see some lights on the runway there, across the runway, can you confirm we’re good to land?” “Canada 759, confirmed to land on runway 28-Right, there is no one on 28-Right but you.” But what the tower doesn’t know is that the pilot isn’t lined up for runway 28R at all. Instead, he’s heading for Taxiway C, which lies parallel directly next to it, and on which four passenger planes were waiting to get into position for takeoff. Tower quickly tells the plane to go around and it peels off, narrowly avoiding a massive collision.