Humans logo

Air Canada Flight 759: Few Meters from DISASTER!

A Harrowing Tale of Near-Disaster and Heroism

By Arish Ali Published 6 months ago 6 min read

On July 7, 2017, the passengers and crew of Air Canada Flight 759 experienced a terrifying ordeal that nearly resulted in one of the worst aviation disasters in recent memory. The flight, which was en route from Toronto Pearson International Airport to San Francisco International Airport, encountered a series of critical errors that brought it perilously close to a catastrophic accident. This incident, which occurred primarily due to human error, serves as a stark reminder of the importance of effective communication, situational awareness, and decision-making in aviation. In this comprehensive article, we will delve deep into the details of Air Canada Flight 759, examining the events leading up to the incident, the causes, the response, and the enduring lessons learned.

Part I: The Background

1.1 Flight 759 - The Basics

Air Canada Flight 759 was a scheduled passenger flight operated by Air Canada, one of Canada's leading airlines. It was flown on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, a state-of-the-art long-haul aircraft known for its advanced technology and passenger comfort. The flight was designated as AC759 and was a direct route from Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) to San Francisco International Airport (SFO), a popular route connecting Canada and the United States.

1.2 The Crew and Passengers

The flight was under the command of a highly experienced flight crew. Captain Dimitrios Kisses, an Air Canada veteran, served as the pilot-in-command, while First Officer Matthew Dampier provided support in the co-pilot role. The cabin crew, led by flight service director Ann Smith, was responsible for ensuring the safety and comfort of the 140 passengers on board.

The passengers were a mix of business travelers, tourists, and residents returning home, with diverse backgrounds and destinations in mind. Little did they know that this routine flight would soon turn into a life-changing experience.

Part II: The Incident

2.1 The Approach

As Flight 759 neared San Francisco International Airport, the flight crew initiated their descent and prepared for landing. Weather conditions appeared typical for the time of day, and the aircraft's advanced systems provided valuable data to the crew. However, what they couldn't foresee was a chain of events that would lead to a near-catastrophic accident.

2.2 The Error Chain

The first link in this chain of errors occurred when the flight crew mistakenly aligned their approach to Taxiway C, which was located parallel to Runway 28R—the intended landing runway. This error was exacerbated by several factors, including inadequate awareness of the runway configuration at SFO, fatigue, and the absence of a parallel runway lighting system. As the aircraft descended towards Taxiway C, it became evident that a grave mistake had been made.

2.3 The Close Call

What happened next was a heart-stopping moment. Air Canada Flight 759, with over 140 souls on board, was descending towards a taxiway filled with four fully-loaded commercial aircraft, awaiting clearance to take off. In the dimly lit conditions of the night, the pilots aboard Flight 759 and the air traffic controllers in the tower scrambled to avert disaster.

2.4 Heroic Actions

In the critical moments that followed, the professionalism and quick thinking of the flight crew, air traffic controllers, and the pilots of the waiting aircraft played a pivotal role in preventing catastrophe. Communication between the tower, Flight 759, and the pilots of the queued planes was essential in maintaining situational awareness and coordination.

Part III: The Causes

3.1 Human Error

The primary cause of this near-disaster was human error. The flight crew of Air Canada Flight 759 made a series of mistakes that culminated in the incorrect approach to Taxiway C instead of Runway 28R. Fatigue and misinterpretation of the airport's lighting system played a significant role in these errors.

3.2 Airport Layout

San Francisco International Airport's layout and taxiway/runway configuration also contributed to the confusion. Inadequate lighting systems and the proximity of the parallel taxiway and runway, combined with the lack of immediate visual cues for pilots, created an environment ripe for misunderstandings.

3.3 Training and Communication

Furthermore, training and communication played significant roles. The incident highlighted the importance of ongoing training and the need for enhanced communication between flight crews and air traffic controllers. The crew's response to the developing situation and their ability to communicate effectively under extreme pressure were pivotal in preventing disaster.

Part IV: The Response

4.1 Immediate Actions

As the gravity of the situation became clear, the air traffic controllers immediately directed Air Canada Flight 759 to abort its landing and initiate a go-around. This crucial decision, made in a split second, allowed the aircraft to climb and abort the approach.

4.2 Aftermath

The incident did not end with the go-around. Once safely in the air again, the flight crew had to regain their composure, reassess their approach, and re-establish contact with the air traffic controllers. Meanwhile, the pilots of the aircraft on Taxiway C had to react swiftly to the unexpected situation.

4.3 Investigations

Following the incident, both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) launched investigations to determine the causes and contributing factors. The findings of these investigations shed light on the errors made and recommended changes to enhance safety.

Part V: Lessons Learned

5.1 The Role of Technology

The incident underscores the significance of technological advancements in aviation, particularly in ensuring pilot awareness of the runway configuration and taxiway layout. Enhanced ground lighting systems and more advanced navigation tools can greatly reduce the risk of such errors in the future.

5.2 Crew Training and Fatigue Management

The importance of ongoing training for flight crews cannot be overstated. Continuous education and recurrent training can help pilots maintain their situational awareness and response capabilities, even in high-stress situations. Additionally, airlines must implement effective fatigue management programs to mitigate the risks associated with pilot tiredness.

5.3 Communication and Teamwork

Effective communication among all parties involved, including flight crews, air traffic controllers, and even pilots on the ground, played a critical role in averting disaster. The incident underscores the importance of clear, concise, and unambiguous communication.

5.4 Regulatory Changes

The investigations into this incident led to several regulatory changes, including improvements in airport signage and lighting systems, as well as updated training and guidance for pilots and air traffic controllers operating at night. These changes aim to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.


Air Canada Flight 759 is a harrowing reminder of the thin line between a routine flight and a potential disaster in aviation. The incident, caused primarily by human error, highlights the importance of constant vigilance, training, and communication in the aviation industry. It also serves as a testament to the heroism and professionalism of the flight crew, air traffic controllers, and fellow pilots who worked together to prevent a catastrophic accident. As the industry continues to evolve, the lessons learned from this near-disaster are invaluable in ensuring the safety of future air travel.

vintagetv reviewtravelsocial mediasinglesciencesatirereviewquotesproduct reviewpop culturephotographymovie reviewmarriageloveliteraturelistlgbtqinterviewhumorhumanityhow tofriendshipfeaturefamilyfact or fictiondiydivorcedatingCONTENT WARNINGcelebritiesbreakupsbook reviewsartadvice

About the Creator

Arish Ali

The world is yours!

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.