A near-collision in San Francisco last year was a few feet from becoming the worst crash in aviation history. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board issued a final report yesterday on the incident involving an Air Canada plane that nearly crashed into planes lined up for take off on the ground at San Francisco International Airport. That Air Canada plane swooped to just 18.2 metres above the ground while passing over other planes on July 7, 2017. Over 1,000 people were at imminent risk of serious injury or death.
Pilots were slow to report the incident to superiors. By the time they did, the plane had made another flight and the cockpit voice recording of the close call was recorded over.
The Air Canada captain, Dimitrios Kisses, was supposed to report the San Francisco incident to the airline as soon as possible but didn’t because he was “very tired” and it was late. He waited until the next day. By that time, the plane was used for another flight, and the audio loop on the cockpit voice recorder was taped over.
The NTSB did not allege that Kisses and co-pilot Matthew Dampier deliberately delayed reporting the incident, but it did say investigators could have gained a better understanding of what the crew was doing before the close call.
The safety board also criticized the FAA for having just one controller on duty at the time of the incident, and recommended better lighting to tell pilots when a runway is closed at night.