SAN FRANCISCO - The NTSB released new information regarding the near disaster at San Francisco International Airport where an Air Canada plane nearly landed on four fully-loaded passenger jets.
The NTSB says information is an update and that the investigation is ongoing.
The NTSB released new photos show how close the Air Canada jet came to crashing into four other planes as it tried to land at SFO last month.
Air Canada flight 759 was flying toward the taxiway, instead of the runway called 2-8 right. Runway 2-8 left was closed for construction The NTSB revealed for the first time the Air Canada jet was as low as 59 feet above ground.before the pilots aborted the landing.
"The blue lights are the taxiway. That's how you know you're on the taxiway versus the runway," says Dick Deeds, a retired airlines pilot.
The runway lights are white.
Deeds flew for Western and Delta airlines for 31 years. He 's also the National Safety Chariman for the Airline Pilots Association.
Deeds says the two pilots in the Air Canada airbus A 320 used a visual approach. and should have been able to distinguish the taxiway from the runway without the help of an instrument.
"How could they, in my mind, confuse that with the blue taxiway lights? " says Deeds.
The Air Canada crew told NTSB they thought the taxiway was the cleared runway.
Deeds says he's landed planes at SFO ten thousand times. He's never experienced anything like this incident.
He suspects pilot error.
"Being a pilot, I hate to say that someone. as just pilot error Somebody was obviously asleep at the switch on this one," says Deeds.
On that July night of the incident, for part of its approach to SFO, the Air Canada jet wasn't visible to a radar system designed to prevent collisions on the ground.
Deeds says the radar system is not a factor in this incident and weather was not an issue.
"They had beautiful weather. The lights are all on. What more can you ask for in landing an airplane," says Deeds.
The NTSB report highlights factors that averted the disaster.
Pilots in one of the planes on the ground turned on its landing lights as an apparent last ditch danger signal. Pilots from another plane on the taxiway alerted air traffic controllers of the off- course Air Canada jet.
Ultimately, the pilots decided to abort the landing saying that they knew something was amiss.
"It's very important that we have thorough investigations. We have to get to the actual truth. The only reason we have investigations is prevention." says Deeds.
The NTSB says this is an ongoing investigation that will be completed in about a year. No cause or conclusions were given in this update.