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59 Feet: The Difference Between Life and Death at SFO

Images show how close “near miss” incident came to landing on other aircraft in San Francisco.

Images released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) depict how 59 feet made the difference in life or death in a near miss incident at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The New York Post reports the images were part of a greater information post on the July 7, 2017 incident.

The pilot of an Air Canada flight allegedly mistook a taxiway at the airport for the runway and began the aircraft’s descent over taxiing aircraft. If the plane landed, it would have come down on top of four other aircraft.

The crisis was adverted when two pilots took action to avoid the landing. A United Airlines pilot watching the situation unfold informed the tower of the impending landing and a Philippines Airlines pilot turned on landing lights to get the attention of the aircraft. The Air Canada jet missed the grounded airframed by just over 50 feet. Once air traffic controllers told the aircraft to circle around, the flight landed without further incident.

Both the NTSB and Air Canada are investigating the situation and hope to learn what caused the pilot to erroneously align with the taxiway instead of the runway. A statement from Air Canada confirmed that the flight, Air Canada Flight 759, landed safely after the go-around. A spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration did not provide additional details about the incident to the New York Post, citing the ongoing investigation.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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