Extraordinary new footage captures how an Air Canada jet came to within FIVE FEET of landing on top of another passenger plane at San Francisco International Airport.
Never-seen-before video – captured from an airport security camera – shows Air Canada flight 759 was forced to suddenly abort its landing, seemingly seconds before ploughing into a Philippine Air jet stationery on the runway.
Grainy footage shows the plane was about to touch down on the runway when it violently rears up to avoid contact with another aircraft. US media reported the plane came within five feet of striking the plane under its path.
Experts say the dramatic near-miss on July 7 last year could have led to one of the "greatest aviation disasters" in history, as the plane narrowly missed the crowded runway packed with four passenger jets carrying up to 1,000 passengers and crew.
US Federal aviation investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released the footage and hundreds of pages of findings after a major probe was launched.
Its report notes that crew felt fatigued on the passenger flight from Toronto to San Francisco while the first officer was twice rejected in his application to be promoted, US media reports.
The Daily Democrat reports that pilots of other planes landing in San Francisco that night complained about bright construction lights which they said obscured the runway.
NTSB findings also present a mix-up in communication between the flight crew and air traffic controllers after the Air Canada flight was lined up to land on the wrong runway.
The pilot switched off autopilot to resume flying the aircraft as the plane reached its final approach and asked his co-pilot to verify the runway was clear after seeing lights on the tarmac.
According to the report, the first officer asked air traffic controllers: "Just want to confirm this is Air Canada 759 we see some lights on the runway there across the runway. Can you confirm we’re cleared to land?”
Officials said the runway was clear but did not realise it was lined up to land on the crowded parallel taxiway instead.
The pilot eventually aborted the landing after his co-pilot ordered him to ‘go around go around’ after the officer looked outside and noticed it "didn’t look right", the report states.
Air Canada has not said if action was taken against the pilot and first officer, who told investigators they felt tired after maneuvering around thunderstorms earlier in the flight.
The 56-year-old captain has 20,000 flying hours, and the first officer has 10,000 flying hours, according to the report.
Chilling audio, previously released, recorded concerned pilots as the Air Canada plane appeared above the four passenger jets on the runway.
One captain can be heard saying "Air Canada flew directly over us" as flight AC759 reportedly came within five feet of the planes on a taxiway at San Francisco International airport.
Retired United Airlines captain Ross Aimer said the outcome could have been "horrific".
He told Mercury News : "If it is true, what happened probably came close to the greatest aviation disaster in history.
"If you could imagine an Airbus colliding with four passenger aircraft wide bodies, full of fuel and passengers, then you can imagine how horrific this could have been."
"This is pretty huge. My buddies called and asked if I knew about it."
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