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'Important' evidence erased after Air Canada jet's near miss at San Francisco airport

'Important' evidence erased after Air Canada jet's near miss at San Francisco airport
From Global News - August 11, 2017

The cockpit voice recording from an Air Canada flight that nearly collided with several planes on a busy taxiway at San Francisco International Airport in July has been erased and experts say it could have been critical to the investigation.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement released August 2 that the incident wasnt reported to federal authorities until two days later and by then the data from the cockpit voice recorder had been erased.

The incident airplanes cockpit voice recorder had been overwritten, so NTSB investigators did not have that data, the NTSB said.

WATCH:Only 30 metres separated an Air Canada plane from a catastrophic accident


Experts say investigators have now lost vitally important information in uncovering what caused a mistake that could have led to the worst aviation disaster in history.

Voice recorder data is always essential to any investigation, retired United Airlines Capt. Ross Aimer, CEO of Aero Consulting Experts told Global News. Basically the human factor part of it could have been perhaps solved by listening to fellas talking to each other that last minute. We would have perhaps found out what really caused these guysa group of professional pilotsto make such a drastic mistake.

Ross said that fatigue could have been a contributing factor that cause pilots to mistake a taxiway for a runway, but the voice recorder from the cockpit was never preserved.

It is critical, without that information we may never fully discover what the cause of this was, he said.

WATCH:Air traffic control audio captures panic as Air Canada flight nearly lands on taxiway

Just before midnight on July 7, Air Canada flight 759, with roughly 135 passengers on board, came within meters of hitting four passenger planes sitting on a taxiway, which the pilots thought was a runway.

The Air Canada jet, arriving from Toronto, was already on a landing approach when a pilot from another airline sitting on the taxiway alerted air traffic control.

The Air Canada pilot pulled up, and flew over the first two planes by just 30 metres. According to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the Airbus A320 was sent around by an air traffic controller, and the plane landed without incident on a second approach.

This could have been the worst aviation disaster in history, Ross said. Imagine an Airbus cartwheeling over four other aircraft full of fuel and passengers. We are talking over 1,500 casualties and five aircraft in flames.

While Canadian officials were able to recover the flight data recorder, the NTSB said in a statement that the incident wasnt reported to officials until July 9.

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