Audio: SFO tower tries to get Air Canada pilot's attention

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.

After landing safely, the crew told the tower they had a radio problem.

He said the flight crew did not acknowledge any of the instructions and did also not respond to a red light gun flashed at the plane, which is standard protocol when a flight crew does not respond to radio instructions.

Shortly after, the Air Canada crew was told "multiple times" to take a go-around flight, due to concerns that another plane that arrived beforehand would still be on the runway.

'A radar replay showed the preceding arrival was in fact clear of the runway when the Air Canada jet landed, ' Gregor said. He said the FAA was investigating.

Controller: Air Canada 781 - go around.

Air Canada confirmed in a statement Tuesday that "the tower had attempted unsuccessfully to contact the aircraft, however the message was not received by the crew".

"Air Canada, go around", traffic control said. The crew did not circle the airport - it simply landed on the original runway.

The aircraft, an Airbus A320 with 140 people aboard, was mistakenly approaching Taxiway C instead of the adjacent runway when the pilot was ordered to pull out of the landing, according to a preliminary investigation from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

The mishap comes after a July 7 near-miss at SFO in which Flight AC759 from Toronto lined up to land on Taxiway C, which was occupied by four passenger aircrafts, rather than Runway 28R where it had been cleared to land. The Air Canada pilots descended to less than 100 feet (30 metres) above the ground and flew over another plane before aborting the landing.

The FAA said the agency also will require two controllers in the airport tower during busy late-night periods. Since then, pilots landing at night must perform an instrument landing - using the runway's advanced guidance systems - when a parallel runway is closed.

Air Canada had another incident at that airport in July that could've led to one of the worst air disasters in history.

  • Eleanor Harrison