Two planes aborted scheduled landings at San Francisco International Airport last week after another plane was spotted jet taxiing across the runways where they had been previously cleared to land, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Thursday (May 25).
An inbound United Airlines plane was reported to be a few hundred feet over the San Francisco Bay when its pilots spotted a Southwest Airlines jet on the runway and opted to abandon the landing. A separate Alaska Airlines observed the same Southwest jet shortly after and made the same decision.
Both planes were reported to have circled around before making safe landings, which the Federal Aviation Administration said was "precautionary" in a statement obtained by NBC Bay Area on Thursday.
“The FAA looked into the events and determined the appropriate steps were taken to ensure safe operations,” the agency said.
An audio recording captured by LiveATC.com includes an air traffic controller telling the Southwest crew "you shouldn't be on the runway," at the time of the incident. A pilot tried to explain the situation before the controller quickly said "I don't need an argument."
A near-disaster had previously taken place at the San Francisco International Airport when an Air Canada plane mistook a taxiway for a runway and nearly landed on four other planes that were set for takeoff at the time.