Airplane (illustrative)
Airplane (illustrative)Thinkstock

A large-scale aviation disaster was narrowly avoided at San Francisco International Airport last Friday, the San Jose Mercury-News reported.

The near-disaster occurred when an Air Canada plane almost landed on a taxiway which was packed with planes waiting for permission to take off.

The taxiway which the pilot had lined up with ran parallel to the landing runway.

An air traffic controller realized what was happening Air Canada Airbus 320 on a “go-around,” a rare procedure in which pilots in the process of landing are ordered to pull up and circle around for another landing attempt.

It is unknown how close the plane came to the ground, where four planes filled with passengers were lined up.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident.

“If it is true, what happened probably came close to the greatest aviation disaster in history,” retired United Airlines Capt. Ross Aimer, CEO of Aero Consulting Experts, told the Mercury-News.

“If you could imagine an Airbus colliding with four passenger aircraft wide bodies, full of fuel and passengers, then you can imagine how horrific this could have been,” he said.

Audio from the air traffic control tower at the time of the incident was archived online and published by the Los Angeles Times.

Air Canada pilot: Tower Air Canada 759 I can see lights on the runway there. Can you confirm we’re clear to land?

Control tower: Air Canada 759 confirmed cleared to land on 28-right. There is no one on 28-right but you.

Air Canada pilot:OK, Air Canada 759

Unknown:Where is this guy going? He’s on the taxiway!

Control tower:Air Canada, go around.

Air Canada pilot: Going around. Air Canada 759.

Control tower: Air Canada, it looks like you were lined up for Charlie there. Fly heading 280. Climb maintain 3,000.

Air Canada pilot: Heading 2-8-0. 3,000. Air Canada 759.

United pilot: United One, Air Canada flew directly over us.

Control tower: Yeah, I saw that guys.