California’s insurance commissioner is demanding Air Canada officials tell the passengers on board a July 7 flight what went wrong when the plane nearly crashed into another plane at San Francisco International Airport.
The Air Canada pilot was cleared to land just before midnight at SFO, but instead nearly landed on a taxiway parallel to the runway, where four planes were lined up ready for takeoff. The pilot descended to less than 100 feet above the ground, and flew the plane over the first aircraft awaiting takeoff, before steering back to safety, according to details of the near-miss released Monday by the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the incident.
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, a former Sacramento-area Democratic lawmaker now running for attorney general, was on the flight, which departed earlier from Toronto.
“Close call!” Jones said on Twitter following the incident. “We almost landed on 4 other planes.”
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In aletter to Air Canada, he called on the company to tell passengers what happened.
“As the plane was close to landing, it suddenly went into a steep climb and we heard the sound of the plane’s jet engines increase significantly. The plane climbed over the airport and swung around to make another approach,” Jones wrote in a letter to Air Canada July 14. “Passengers were not told that the plane had almost landed on a taxiway on which there were four other planes fully loaded with passengers and fuel. Instead, the pilot made a nonchalant announcement that he had to go around due to traffic at the airport.”
Jones urged safety regulators to conduct a “thorough and complete” investigation, and that Air Canada cooperate with investigators. He also asked the company to “inform all of the passengers of the flight as to the results of its and aviation regulators’ investigations, and of the steps taken to prevent such a disaster in the future.”
“As a passenger of Air Canada 759 I believe we have a right to know what happened, why it happened, and what can be done to make sure that no plane and its passengers are placed at such risk of loss again,” Jones said in a statement.
NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said the investigation determining cause could take 12 to 18 months. He said such incidents have happened before, but declined to elaborate further.
NTSB investigators have interviewed the flight’s captain, and are expected to continue questioning the flight crew this week.