Close call for Air Canada plane

Probe un­der­way af­ter jet lined up to land on busy taxi­way, rather than run­way, in San Fran­cisco

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - PAOLA LORIGGIO

In­ves­ti­ga­tors look­ing into what caused an ap­par­ent close call in­volv­ing an Air Canada flight at San Fran­cisco In­ter­na­tional Air­port are ex­pected to ex­am­ine whether hu­man er­ror or con­troller pro­ce­dures played a role in the in­ci­dent, an avi­a­tion ex­pert said Tues­day

The state of the air­craft’s and con­troller’s equip­ment, and the de­sign of the air space will also be un­der re­view as of­fi­cials try to de­ter­mine how a flight from Toronto came to line up with a taxi­way rather than the run­way as it pre­pared to land, said Barry Wiszniowski, pres­i­dent of Avi­a­tion Safety Management Ex­perts.

An Air Canada Air­bus A320 was cleared to land on one of the run­ways at the San Fran­cisco air­port just be­fore mid­night on Fri­day when the pi­lot “in­ad­ver­tently” lined up with the taxi­way, which runs par­al­lel to the run­way, the U.S. Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Author­ity said.

There were four air­craft lined up on the taxi­way wait­ing for de­par­ture when the in­ci­dent oc­curred, the FAA said in a state­ment. The Air Canada plane even­tu­ally made an­other ap­proach and landed with­out in­ci­dent, it said.

Ac­cord­ing to a pre­lim­i­nary sum­mary re­leased Tues­day by Canada’s Trans­porta­tion Safety Board, the Air Canada jet pulled up, and over­flew the first two planes by just 30 me­tres.

The FAA and Air Canada are in­ves­ti­gat­ing what hap­pened.

“One of the ques­tions that they may ask is, were the pi­lots fa­tigued? ... Were they in their nor­mal win­dow of wake­ful­ness?” Wiszniowski said. “There are a lot of ques­tions that need to be asked.”

Wiszniowski said the safety sys­tems in place man­aged to pre­vent what could have been a se­ri­ous in­ci­dent, not­ing that at least one pre­vi­ous case in which a plane landed on a taxi­way where there were other planes re­sulted in mul­ti­ple fa­tal­i­ties.

Thirty-four peo­ple died in Fe­bru­ary 1991 when a USAir Boe­ing 737 landed on a taxi­way at Los An­ge­les air­port and col­lided with a com­muter plane, caus­ing a mas­sive ex­plo­sion.

Air Canada said 135 pas­sen­gers and five crew mem­bers were aboard its plane, but gave lit­tle other in­for­ma­tion, cit­ing its own on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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