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Flight Redirected To Avoid Landing On Occupied Runway At SFO

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating another runway incident that happened at SFO Tuesday when a flight had to be redirected to avoid landing on an occupied runway, according to authorities.

A spokesperson for the FAA said on Tuesday, Aeromexico Flight 668 from Mexico City received landing clearance from the tower on Runway 28R and correctly read back that clearance.

The plane was about a mile away from the San Francisco International Airport, air traffic controllers noticed the aircraft was lined up for Runway 28L instead, which was occupied by a Virgin America jet at the time, approximately 11:45 a.m. The Aeromexico crew was instructed to execute a missed approach.

The flight was able to land safely after shortly after 12 p.m. once it executed the missed approach. The official said the FAA is looking into the event.

The incident comes in the wake of the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board investigating multiple events that have happened at SFO in the past two years.

Most notable of those incidents was one in July when an Air Canada jet that was landing mistakenly headed toward a taxiway where four other planes were on the ground. The Air Canada pilots pulled up just in time to avoid a collision.

That incident led to changes in control tower staffing at night and procedures pilots must follow when landing at the airport during certain nighttime hours.

Preliminary reports issued by the safety board indicated that the Air Canada plane dipped as low as 59 feet (18 meters) above the ground, barely high enough to avoid the tops of the jets on the ground.

Separately, the FAA is investigating an incident last month in which another Air Canada crew ignored or did not receive instructions from the tower to abort a landing.

The controller feared another plane that had just landed might still be on the runway, but the Air Canada jet landed safely.

On November 20, the National Transportation Safety Board  confirmed that officials were also investigating two other SFO events.

The incidents include an event in December 2016 when a SkyWest plane crossed a painted runway line it was supposed to stay behind while another plane was taking off, according to a safety board preliminary report.

The safety board report also revealed that a Compass Airlines plane in February was forced to abort a landing because a Virgin America jet was lined up and waiting to take off on the same runway.

Air traffic controllers received a warning about the potential conflict from an automated system and were able to redirect the Compass plane in time.

Both incidents happened at night, and there were no injuries in either case.

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