Pilot Error Cause Of SFO Close-Calls


SAN FRANCISCO—The Federal Aviation Administration released a report on Wednesday, May 2, stating that pilot error was responsible for three close-calls involving an aircraft in the last 16 months. The documents were created and dispensed by the FAA. According to reports, air traffic control was cited as the source of another issue.

An Air Canada Jet (Flight 759) narrowly missed a collision with four other planes when it almost landed on the SFO taxiway on July 7, 2017. Recently released footage has reignited the dialogue around the situation. The National Transportation Safety Board revealed in a press release that Air Canada flight 759, an Airbus A-320, was cleared to land on runway 28R at San Francisco International Airport, but the aircraft lined up on parallel taxiway C, where four airplanes on it were waiting for takeoff clearance. Air Canada flight 759 descended below 100 feet above the ground and initiated a go-around after overflying the first airplane on taxiway C.

In the released footage, air traffic controllers can be heard telling the pilots that the runway is clear, when another voice chimes in shortly after to say, “Where is this guy going? They’re on the taxiway.” The pilots were able to narrowly avoid the collision by swiftly pulling the plane back up to the sky.

While the Air Canada flight is still under investigation, the most recent report suggests that the higher percentage of close-calls are due to human error. Issues at SFO have come from planes lining up to land on the wrong runway. The landing zone at SFO is troublesome because it is directly next to the taxiway at the airport.

The NTSB indicated that the docket includes factual reports for operations, human performance, air traffic control, aircraft performance, and the flight data recorder. The docket contains a video that shows the overflight, as well as interview summaries, photographs and other investigative material. The docket contains only factual information collected by NTSB investigators.

“No conclusions about how or why the overflight occurred should be drawn from the information in the docket, as the investigation is ongoing. Analysis, findings, recommendations, and probable cause determinations related to the incident will be issued by the NTSB at a later date,” states a press release from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The most recent incident occurred on January 9 when an Aeromexico passenger almost collided with another jet on its way to the ground. The Aeromexico jet was able to abort descent before any contact occurred.

Written By Seymone Khaleghi and Donald Roberts