In­ves­ti­ga­tors look­ing into close call on run­way in S.F.

Air Canada flight nearly crashed into two other jet­lin­ers

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By David Koenig

In­ves­ti­ga­tors look­ing into the fright­en­ingly close call in­volv­ing an air­liner that nearly hit planes on the ground at San Fran­cisco In­ter­na­tional Air­port will try to de­ter­mine why the pilots made such a rookie mis­take and nearly landed on a busy taxi­way in­stead of the run­way.

The Air Canada plane with 140 peo­ple aboard came within 100 feet of crash­ing onto the first two of four pas­sen­ger-filled planes ready­ing for take­off.

Run­ways are edged with rows of white lights, and another sys­tem of lights on the side of the run­way helps guide pilots on their de­scent. By con­trast, taxi­ways have blue lights on the edges and green lights down the cen­ter.

“The light­ing is dif­fer­ent for good rea­son,” said Steven Wal­lace, a for­mer di­rec­tor of ac­ci­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tions at the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion. “Some of these vis­ual mis­takes are hard to be­lieve, but a crew gets fix­ated with think­ing ‘That’s the run­way,’ and it’s not.”

Then there is the ra­dio trans­mis­sion in which one of the Air Canada pilots sounded puz­zled about see­ing what ap­peared to be the lights of other planes on the run­way. Safety ex­perts said that should have prompted the crew to abort their ap­proach long be­fore they did.

When in­ves­ti­ga­tors in­ter­view the pilots, they will fo­cus on un­der­stand­ing how mis­takes oc­curred “and why they did not re­al­ize the se­quence of er­rors,” said John Cox, a safety con­sul­tant and for­mer air­line pilot. In­ves­ti­ga­tors will look at the pilots’ use of au­to­mated-fly­ing sys­tems, their man­ual fly­ing skills and how they in­ter­acted with each other as un­cer­tainty set in, he said.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors from the U.S. Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board may ar­rive this weekend and in­ter­view the pilots and air traf­fic con­trollers, an agency spokesman said Fri­day. They will ex­am­ine in­for­ma­tion from the flight data recorder, which will tell them the plane’s ex­act lo­ca­tion and how it was be­ing flown. They also will lis­ten to the cock­pit voice recorder, which may in­di­cate whether the pilots were fo­cused on their job or dis­tracted.

Canada’s trans­porta­tion safety board said the Air Canada jet skimmed just 100 feet over the tops of two planes wait­ing for take­off. Af­ter an air traf­fic con­troller ordered them to aban­don their land­ing, the pilots pulled up their Air­bus A320 just in time, cir­cled and landed cor­rectly on the run­way. No one was in­jured.

The Cana­dian agency’s sum­mary was the first of­fi­cial ac­count of just how dan­ger­ous the sit­u­a­tion was.

An Air Canada spokes­woman said she could not com­ment be­cause the in­ci­dent is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. She de­clined to de­scribe the amount of ex­pe­ri­ence of the pilots.

Taxi­way land­ings are rare, and most of them in­volve small planes.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.