They say air traffic controllers have one of the most stressful jobs around and, looking at what nearly happened on the runway of San Francisco’s International Airport last week, you can clearly see why.
Captured in a piece of audio, a pilot aborted a near-fatal landing with just seconds to spare.
You see, as he approached the runway carrying 140 passengers, a voice believed to be another pilot can be heard casually asking:
“Where is this guy going? He’s on the taxiway.”
The other pilot was in one of four fully-loaded passenger planes, which were sitting on the taxiway the Air Canada pilot was planning to use for his landing.
Here’s a diagram of the incident:
Aviation safety expert Ross Aimer described the near-miss as “close to the greatest disaster in aviation history”.
But what happened? Although no one really knows, Mercury had this to say:
Max Trescott, a general aviation pilot for more than 40 years and instructor at Palo Alto Airport, said he believes the pilot’s orientation was thrown off by the closed and darkened runway 28L. But still, he said, mistaking blue, muted taxiway lights with the prominent, white runway lights is baffling.
Pilots receive NOTAMS — notices to pilots — regularly alerting them to closed runways or other changes in normal flight procedures, and Air Canada would have dispatchers alerting their pilots of a closed runway, Trescott said.
SFO spokesman Doug Yakel said that Runway 28L closed down at 10 p.m. Friday, about two hours before Air Canada was scheduled to land. A NOTAM was sent alerting pilots of the closure until 7 a.m. Saturday, and the airport had a large, flashing “X” at the landing area to reinforce the closure, he said.
Following the aborted mission, the Air Canada flight circled the airport and landed without incident. It is estimated around 1 000 people were involved in the potentially fatal incident.
Listen to the audio below:
How casual does everyone sound, especially when the incident was averted with 11 seconds to spare? According to CNN, this is the distance 11 seconds is equal to:
[A] preliminary review from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada revealed the aircraft missed the first pair of jets by just 100 feet (30 metres).
It avoided the third by 200 feet and the fourth by about 300 feet, the review reportedly added.
I wonder how the Air Canada pilot is feeling about nearly causing the greatest disaster in aviation history.
[imagesource: Naked Wanderings] Travelling the world sounds like a great idea. Trav...
Guess who's back, back again? Recently, the trailer for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm arri...
[imagesource: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona] NASA has been making waves this year ...
[imagesource: Esa Alexander] Last week, the Terrible Josters gang was dealt a blow, whe...
[imagesource:here] At the end of September, the government announced that we would once...