Terrifying footage shows flight's brush with catastrophe

News 04/05/2018

Footage released from an incident at San Francisco International Airport last year shows how an Air Canada flight came within a few metres of a catastrophic aviation disaster.  

Air Canada flight 759 was descending from Toronto when it was supposed to land on runway 28R - but it instead lined its approach for a parallel taxiway, which contained four planes awaiting take off. 

The incident put more than 1000 lives at risk, and would have likely been one of the worst aviation disasters on record, the Daily Mail reported. 

In newly emerged footage released from the airport's control tower, the top of the screen shows the approaching Air Canada Airbus A320.

The aircraft then abruptly climbs upward as the pilots clearly realise their plane is in the wrong place.

A report released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) details how the near-miss occured before midnight on July 7.

With runway 28L closed for maintenance and left with its lights off, pilots were required to land on the parallel 28R runway.

But the Air Canada pilots somehow assumed the illuminated runway was the one they were supposed to avoid - for some reason they didnt see a red 'x' displayed at the end of the closed runway. 

Within two kilometres of the airport, the Air Canada pilots messaged air traffic control (ATC) to say they had seen the lights on the runway and required permission to land - yet they received no response.  

It was then investigators say the plane entered a radar 'blind spot' for 12 seconds - something they say may have stopped the plane from warning ATC it was in the wrong place. 

Spokesperson for San Francisco airport Doug Yakel said numerous improvements have been made to the airport to improve safety, including more lights on runways and  reinforcements of a ground radar system.