An Air Canada jet almost caused one of the worst-ever aviation disasters by lining up to land on a taxiway

Air Canada Airbus A320
An Air Canada Airbus A320 taking off from Las Vegas. Photo by Tomas Del Coro / Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 Sharealike

NEW YORK CITY — On Friday, Air Canada Flight 759 was forced to abort a landing attempt at San Francisco International after nearly touching down on one of the airport’s taxiways.

Flight 759, from Vancouver to San Francisco, had been cleared to land on Runway 28L. Instead, it inadvertently lined up for Taxiway C which runs parallel to the runway, the Federal Aviation Administration told Business Insider in an email.

At the time of the incident, four planes were sitting on the taxiway waiting to take off.

The FAA has launched an investigation to find out just how close the Air Canada jet came to a collision.

Had AC759 collided with the four jets, it would likely have been one of the worst disasters in the history of commercial aviation.

Fortunately, the aircraft was eventually able to land safely with no injuries reported among the 140 passengers and crew on board the Airbus A320.

In an statement to Business Insider, Air Canada wrote:

“Air Canada flight AC759 from Toronto was preparing to land at San Francisco airport Friday night when the aircraft initiated a go-around. The aircraft landed normally without incident. We are still investigating the circumstances and therefore have no additional information to offer. It was an A320 aircraft with 135 passengers and five crew.”

Runway collisions have happened before and usually with disastrous consequences. The most infamous example being the 1977 collision between a pair of Boeing 747 jumbo jets on the island of Tenerife that killed 583 people. In 1991, a US Air Boeing 737 landed on top of a SkyWest Airlines regional airliner killing more than 30 people.