Following an investigation led by the NTSB an official report into the near miss of an Air Canada aircraft last year stated:
Only a few feet of separation prevented this from possibly becoming the worst aviation accident in history
A near miss involving an Air Canada plane which almost landed on a crowded taxiway instead of a runway at San Francisco airport last year could have been the “worst aviation accident in history,” according to an official report.
The Air Canada Airbus A320 carrying 140 people was cleared to land on Runway 28-Right at San Francisco International Airport shortly before midnight on July 7, 2017 but the pilot inadvertently lined up for Taxiway C, where four planes were waiting to take off, descending to an altitude of 100 ft (30 meters) above ground level and overflew the first airplane on the taxiway after which the crew initated a go around and reached a safety altitude of 60ft overflying the second aircraft prior to climbing.
The report said the flight crew’s misidentification of the taxiway as the intended runway “resulted from the crewmembers’ lack of awareness of the parallel runway closure due to their ineffective review of notice to airmen (NOTAM) information before the flight and during the approach briefing.” as well as “the flight crew’s failure to tune the instrument landing system frequency for backup lateral guidance, expectation bias, fatigue due to circadian disruption and length of continued wakefulness, and breakdowns in crew resource management.”
Whilst no crew or passengers were injured in the incident, the NTSB have called for better reporting of incidents and actions to prevent similar incidents occuring.