Air Canada’s near miss last year was almost ‘worst accident in history’

Aviation-safety officials say a close call last year highlights the need for faster reporting of dangerous incidents before evidence is lost. (AP/Jeff Chiu, File)
Updated 13 October 2018
0

Air Canada’s near miss last year was almost ‘worst accident in history’

  • The report said the flight crew’s misidentification of the taxiway as the intended runway “resulted from the crewmembers’ lack of awareness of the parallel runway closure
  • The pilot of a United Airlines plane on the ground told the tower meanwhile that “Air Canada flew directly over us.”

WASHINGTON: A near miss involving an Air Canada plane which almost landed on a crowded taxiway instead of a runway at San Francisco airport last year could have been the “worst aviation accident in history,” according to an official report.
The Air Canada Airbus A320 carrying 140 people was cleared to land on Runway 28-Right at San Francisco International Airport shortly before midnight on July 7, 2017 — but the pilot inadvertently lined up for Taxiway C, where four planes were waiting to take off.
“Only a few feet of separation prevented this from possibly becoming the worst aviation accident in history,” said Bruce Landsberg, vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board while announcing the agency’s report issued Friday.
“The incident airplane descended to an altitude of 100 ft (30 meters) above ground level and overflew the first airplane on the taxiway,” the report said.
“The incident flight crew initiated a go-around, and the airplane reached a minimum altitude of about 60 ft and overflew the second airplane on the taxiway before starting to climb,” it added, noting none of the five flight crewmembers or 135 passengers aboard the Air Canada plane were injured.
The report said the flight crew’s misidentification of the taxiway as the intended runway “resulted from the crewmembers’ lack of awareness of the parallel runway closure due to their ineffective review of notice to airmen (NOTAM) information before the flight and during the approach briefing.”
Other contributing factors were “the flight crew’s failure to tune the instrument landing system frequency for backup lateral guidance, expectation bias, fatigue due to circadian disruption and length of continued wakefulness, and breakdowns in crew resource management.”
An audio recording of the radio exchanges between air traffic control and the pilot of Air Canada flight 759 was posted online shortly after the incident.
Just moments after receiving permission to land on the designated runway, the Air Canada pilot returned to the radio sensing that something was amiss.
“Uh, Tower, I 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 clear to land?“
The tower responded: “Air Canada 759 confirmed clear to land Runway 28-Right. There is no one on 28-Right but you.”
“OK, Air Canada 759,” the pilot replied.
An unidentified man’s voice then broke in — presumably a pilot in one of the aircraft waiting to take off. “Where’s this guy going? He’s on the taxiway,” he said.
Air traffic control immediately told the Air Canada pilot not to land.
“Air Canada go around,” the tower said.
“In the go-around, Air Canada 759,” the pilot responded.
The pilot of a United Airlines plane on the ground told the tower meanwhile that “Air Canada flew directly over us.”
“Yeah, I saw that guys,” the tower replied.
elm/leo/ia/gle


Kashmir shuts down over India’s ‘muscular policy’

Updated 9 min 21 sec ago
0

Kashmir shuts down over India’s ‘muscular policy’

  • Activists angry over detention of rebel leader, suspension of border trade with Pakistan
  • Analysts said the arrest of activists was an attempt to sanitize the valley before polling day

NEW DELHI: Indian-controlled Kashmir observed a shutdown Tuesday over the alleged ill-treatment of a separatist leader and the suspension of border trade with Pakistan.

Yasin Malik, chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), was taken into custody as part of a major crackdown following a February attack in Pulwama that killed dozens of Indian security personnel.

India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim it in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian rule since 1989, demanding Indian-controlled Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. The Pulwama attack brought both nations to the brink of war and tensions have been running high since.

Tuesday’s strike, called by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), saw the shutdown of all shops, businesses and traffic in protest at his detention and ill-treatment.

There is also anger that border trade with Pakistan has been suspended after the Indian government said that many of those trading across the Line of Control, which divides Kashmir into zones under Indian and Pakistani administration, had links to militant organizations.

“News about Yasin Malik being seriously ill and being shifted to a hospital in New Delhi is very disturbing,” JRL member Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told Arab News.

“The people of Kashmir are concerned about his safety and well-being. It’s sad that even his family and his lawyer are not allowed to meet him. It’s the responsibility of the state, under whose detention he is in, to ensure his well-being. It is unfortunate that the state is dealing with the political issue of Kashmir with muscular and military policy alone. This will not yield anything apart from more anger and alienation on the ground. Look at the elections. The dismal turnout proves how disenchanted and alienated common masses feel today,” said Farooq, referring to the low turnout of Kashmir voters in India’s mammoth general election.

Analysts said the arrest of activists was an attempt to sanitize the valley before polling day.

India has had three phases in its election and participation in Kashmir has been poor, with some suggesting a turnout of 15 percent compared to 34 percent in 2014.

The JRL said the shutdown was also a condemnation of the alleged “ongoing aggression of central investigation agencies against Kashmiri leaders, activists, senior businessmen, trade union leaders, kith and kin of resistance leaders and other people belonging to different walks of life.”

Its statement called the closure of the national highway for two days a week “undemocratic ... and a gross human rights violation.”

The JRL slammed the suspension of border trade and said it was putting “the lives and economy of thousands into jeopardy.”

Srinagar-based rights activists Parvez Imroz said what was happening in Kashmir amounted to political and economic repression.

“By suspending trade at the border many lives are at stake,” he told Arab News. “People who have invested heavily in business are staring at an uncertain future. The government is not leaving any breathing space for the people of Kashmir.”

He added that, despite the Indian government’s tactics and firepower, people had not been motivated to cast their vote.

“Kashmir is not a democracy but an occupation. How can you expect people to respond when New Delhi behaves like a colonial power?”

But the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said separatists had no right to question the government about the treatment of Kashmiri leaders.

“The separatist leaders never treated their own people well. They always tortured people who defied them. How come they expect good treatment at the hands of the Indian government?” Hina Bhat, a BJP leader in Srinagar, told Arab News.

She defended the ban on border trade, saying it could not continue unless the relationship between India and Pakistan normalized. She also put a positive spin on polling day, saying it was a success because it was “casualty-free.”

“No doubt people have some grudges and they are not happy with the previous government, but there is no need for disappointment as poll rates in other parts of the state have been good,” she added.