News / Canada

Investigation underway after Air Canada plane touches down despite orders to abort landing

A flight from Montreal landed in San Francisco despite being repeatedly told to abort the landing because air traffic control wasn’t sure if another plane had cleared the runway.

The flight was originally cleared for landing, but the FAA says air traffic control later instructed the crew to abort the landing.

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The flight was originally cleared for landing, but the FAA says air traffic control later instructed the crew to abort the landing.

Air Canada and American aviation officials are investigating a flight from Montreal that landed at the San Francisco airport Sunday night despite being repeatedly told to abort the landing because air traffic control wasn’t sure if another plane had cleared the runway.

It’s the second incident involving the airline at that same airport in the last three months.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor told the Star in an email that the inbound Flight AC781 was initially cleared for landing — this instruction was acknowledged by the crew when they were approximately 10 kilometres away from the airport.

But Gregor said air traffic control later instructed the Air Canada crew multiple times to abort the landing because the controller wasn’t sure whether a previous flight would have completely cleared the runway before the Air Canada jet reached it.

He said the Air Canada crew did not acknowledge any of the controller’s instructions over the radio. A supervisor then used a red light gun to alert the crew not to land, and go around again.

According to Gregor, flashing a light gun is standard protocol when an air crew is not responding to radio instructions.

Despite this, Gregor said the flight landed at 9:26 p.m. local time.

After landing, the Air Canada crew told the control tower that they had a radio problem, Gregor said.

Gregor said that a radar replay showed the previous arrival was clear of the runway when the Air Canada flight landed.

According to Peter Fitzpatrick, an Air Canada spokesperson, the flight proceeded to land normally after receiving proper clearance to do so.

“Upon landing the crew was informed the tower had attempted unsuccessfully to contact the aircraft,” Fitzpatrick said in an email to the Star. “However the message was not received by the crew.”

In July, at the same San Francisco International Airport, an Air Canada jet nearly landed on a taxiway where other planes were waiting to deport.

With files from The Canadian Press

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