Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Air travel safety is on many minds.

After the horrific Southwest Airlines incident two weeks ago -- and another troubling incident involving the same airline yesterday -- some are questioning whether planes are being flown at their limits, or even beyond.

What about pilots? Are they being pushed beyond endurable hours in order to make sure that planes arrive on time and are ready to leave for their next destination?

The National Transportation Safety Board just released its report on an incident last July in which an Air Canada flight, arriving at San Francisco Airport, came extremely close to landing on top of four planes occupying a taxiway.

As the San Jose Mercury News reports, the Board found that the crew complained of fatigue during the flight. 

What's most frightening, perhaps, is new footage the NTSB released to accompany its report. 

It shows that the Air Canada plane came extremely close to a Philippine Airlines aircraft.

You can see the Air Canada flight landing, aimed straight at the planes on the ground.

It seems to come within feet -- some experts suggest the distance was as little as 5 feet -- of the Philippine plane.

It's as if you want to scream at the pilot to abort the landing, which he eventually did

The NTSB said in its report that the Air Canada plane was just 60 feet from the ground at its lowest point.

The problem was that the pilots had been cleared for landing, but instead of heading for runway 28R, they aimed for the taxiway.

Some pilots had, earlier that evening, complained that lights from construction work had affected their vision.

But not to be able to see planes below, on a seemingly clear night, seems bizarre. 

An Air Canada spokesman told me the airline continues to work with the NTSB's of Canada and the U.S. and that it won't comment on an incomplete investigation.

He added, however: "The airline operates in a continuous improvement environment and, based on preliminary review within the airline, we have already implemented measures to change procedures, training and technology to further advance safety at Air Canada."

Passengers get on planes and often feel reassured by the voices of pilots who tell them they expect the flight will be smooth -- or even warn of a few bumps.

They place their trust in the pilots' abilities to do their job.

However, as with any job, mistakes can happen. Inattention can lead to a multiplication of errors.

In this case, the co-pilot had reportedly been turned down twice for promotion, one of the reasons allegedly being his "lack of situational awareness."

Currently, airlines are desperately trying to find more pilots. Some are going out of business because of it.

In some cases, they're even hiring people with no experience and training them from scratch, sometimes for free.

The exceptional recent safety record of the world's airlines -- including Air Canada -- can lull one into believing that everything will always be alright.

The whole air traffic system, though, is under constant and considerable strain,

In the Air Canada incident, it was partly thanks to a United Airlines pilot on the ground who alerted Air Traffic Control as to the perilous trajectory of the Air Canada plane, that disaster was averted.

But ensuring pilot competence is a constant issue for airlines.

The Air Canada pilots' bodies were telling them it was 3 a.m. (when it was just before midnight, Pacific Time) when they approached their landing.

Were the operating at optimum alertness? 

Published on: May 3, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.