Investigators looking into the frighteningly close call involving an airliner that nearly hit planes on the ground at San Francisco International Airport will try to determine why the pilots made such a rookie mistake and nearly landed on a busy taxiway instead of the runway.
The Air Canada plane with 140 people aboard came within 100 feet of crashing onto the first two of four passenger-filled planes readying for takeoff.
Runways are edged with rows of white lights, and another system of lights on the side of the runway helps guide pilots on their descent. By contrast, taxiways have blue lights on the edges and green lights down the center.
Then there is the radio transmission in which one of the Air Canada pilots sounded puzzled about seeing what appeared to be the lights of other planes on the runway. Safety experts said that should have prompted the crew to abort their approach long before they did.