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FAA investigating after another Air Canada flight bungles landing at SFO

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(S.F. Examiner file photo)
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An Air Canada plane landed at San Francisco International Airport on Sunday night despite air traffic controllers’ attempts to get the plane to circle around, the second mishap involving one of the airline’s planes at SFO since July.

Air Canada Flight AC781 from Montreal ultimately landed without incident on SFO’s Runway 28R at 9:26 p.m. Sunday, Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Ian Gregor said Tuesday.

Air traffic controllers had cleared the plane to land and the flight crew acknowledged the instruction when they were 6 miles away from the airport, Gregor said.

However, an air traffic controller then instructed the crew multiple times to “execute a go-around” because of uncertainty over whether the runway would be clear before the Air Canada flight arrived, Gregor said.

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.

After landing on what proved to be a clear runway, the Air Canada crew said they had a radio problem, according to Gregor.

He said the FAA is investigating the incident.

Air Canada officials released a brief statement today about Flight AC781.

“After receiving proper clearance to land it proceeded to do so and landed normally,” airline spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said.

“Upon landing the crew was informed the tower had attempted unsuccessfully to contact the aircraft, however the message was not received by the crew. Air Canada is investigating the circumstances,” Fitzpatrick said.

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.

According to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, the plane got as close as 59 feet above one of the planes on the taxiway before speeding back up and circling around after their flight crew asked air traffic control to confirm their landing clearance. A pilot of a plane on the ground had also inquired about the Air Canada plane’s status.

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