Curious about Flight path - AA 997 DFW-EZE

 
Old Jun 3, 15, 11:01 am
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Curious about Flight path - AA 997 DFW-EZE

Hey all,

I've noticed that the AA flight DFW-EZE flies basically down the west coast of South America, down to SCL airspace, and then takes a left-hand-turn over the Andes, to reach EZE.

It doesn't land at SCL, however. DL flies ATL-EZE by flying directly over Brazil. Does anyone know why this might be the case? Will be on the flight tomorrow and was just curious.
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Old Jun 3, 15, 12:25 pm
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Originally Posted by FlightWhite View Post
Hey all,

I've noticed that the AA flight DFW-EZE flies basically down the west coast of South America, down to SCL airspace, and then takes a left-hand-turn over the Andes, to reach EZE.

It doesn't land at SCL, however. DL flies ATL-EZE by flying directly over Brazil. Does anyone know why this might be the case? Will be on the flight tomorrow and was just curious.
My purely speculatory, have no idea if this is based in truth guess, is that AA doesn't want to pay Brazil overflight rights for this journey and found that the additional time and fuel is less than the cost of overflight. But who knows, maybe it's space aliens. Also a worthy guess in my mind.
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Old Jun 3, 15, 3:02 pm
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According to the Great Circle Mapper website, it would be out of the way to fly over Brazil anyway:

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Old Jun 3, 15, 3:06 pm
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When looking at the great circle mapper, it's apparent that the shortest route from ATL flies over western Brazil, while the shortest route from DFW does not overfly Brazil. AA would have to go out of their way to overfly Brazil. DFW is 731 miles west of Atlanta.

My WAG speculation is in agreement with danohio: AA's routing minimizes the number of countries to which AA would have to pay in exchange for a small time/distance/fuel penalty, and if so, then the extra cost penalty is likely smaller than the overflight payments to the various countries that a straight-line flight would incur.
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Old Jun 3, 15, 3:11 pm
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Originally Posted by danohio View Post
My purely speculatory, have no idea if this is based in truth guess, is that AA doesn't want to pay Brazil overflight rights for this journey and found that the additional time and fuel is less than the cost of overflight. But who knows, maybe it's space aliens. Also a worthy guess in my mind.
I agree that this is most likely the case. Why pay the overflight rights for another country when you need not fly over it anyway?
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Old Jun 3, 15, 4:41 pm
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Originally Posted by cmd320 View Post
I agree that this is most likely the case. Why pay the overflight rights for another country when you need not fly over it anyway?
This brings up to me another question ... how expensive are overflight rights? and because AA flies so many flights to/from Brazil do they get a "volume" discount? If that's the case then it might be a different reason they skip Brazil.
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Old Jun 3, 15, 5:43 pm
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Originally Posted by neo_781 View Post
This brings up to me another question ... how expensive are overflight rights? and because AA flies so many flights to/from Brazil do they get a "volume" discount? If that's the case then it might be a different reason they skip Brazil.
Overflight fees for Canada are quite high. AA used to avoid Canadian air space like the plague for a while crossing the Pacific coming back from NRT right at SEA seemingly regardless whether ORD or JFK.
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Old Jun 3, 15, 11:37 pm
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Originally Posted by idainc View Post
Overflight fees for Canada are quite high. AA used to avoid Canadian air space like the plague for a while crossing the Pacific coming back from NRT right at SEA seemingly regardless whether ORD or JFK.
I hear the same is true for Mexico, and any flight that can realistically avoid Mexican airspace will do so every time. I'm not sure about the specifics of the overflight costs, but I will look them up and see what I can find.
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Old Jun 4, 15, 1:47 am
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Originally Posted by FWAAA View Post
My WAG speculation is in agreement with danohio: AA's routing minimizes the number of countries to which AA would have to pay in exchange for a small time/distance/fuel penalty, and if so, then the extra cost penalty is likely smaller than the overflight payments to the various countries that a straight-line flight would incur.
The number of countries is irrelevant IMHO (especially in S. America, where AA has such a density of routes that it either flies to it -- like Brazil -- or is bound to fly over almost all of them at one point or another) but I'm willing to bet that the route planning tool has ATC costs baked into the route optimization algorithm.

It optimizes to lowest cost as opposed to shortest flight.

And of course it has some black-listed areas, such as Ukraine and other hot spots.
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Old Jun 4, 15, 6:58 am
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There may also be a desire not to spend so much time over the Andes, if that affects fuel planning or max weight for escape routes over mountains, or would need extra equipment to supply passenger oxygen for longer in case of a depressurisation.

There may also be wind reasons, such as not wishing to be exposed to a large headwind for so long, or similar.
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Old Jun 4, 15, 7:19 am
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Probably some combination of all the above. Many people don't realize just how much further east South America is from the United States. For example, if you go due south from where I currently am in the vicinity of RDU you end up right around Quito, Ecuador not far from the Pacific Ocean. My dad once decided to save $50/person flying our family to GRU via DFW instead of MIA, on this flight it added almost 2.5 hours because we started so much further west.
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Old Jun 4, 15, 8:44 am
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How far out into the air above the sea do airline still have to pay the overflight fee? To minimize fees, AA could fly direct over the Caribbean sea, then cross Panama (or Nicaragua), flight west of South America over the Pacific towards Chile, and finally across the Andes to Argentina.
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Old Jun 4, 15, 9:00 am
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Originally Posted by Dieuwer View Post
How far out into the air above the sea do airline still have to pay the overflight fee? To minimize fees, AA could fly direct over the Caribbean sea, then cross Panama (or Nicaragua), flight west of South America over the Pacific towards Chile, and finally across the Andes to Argentina.
There is a lot more concerned than overflight fees. Fuel, labor, safety, weather, and probably way past last, customer satisfaction.

Fuel: Flying hundreds of miles off a direct course can cost a substantial amount of fuel and it's not cheap.

Labor: Every hour that plane has the breaks unlocked is costing them major bucks for the flight crew.

Safety: Heaven forbid, but in the case of an emergency, the plane may need to get on the ground and safely. I would venture to guess there are more choices on overland routes than over-water.

Weather: Constantly changing course will expose the flight to changing headwinds and the need to change altitude and/or burn more fuel.

Customer Satisfaction: Would you really choose a flight that is hours longer than others and probably more expensive due to the higher costs?

Overfly fees may be a trivial thing. But having the agreements in place probably the bigger deal. Some countries may take exception if you make a last minute change and have no agreement in place.
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Old Jun 4, 15, 9:10 am
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Originally Posted by RogerD408 View Post
Safety: Heaven forbid, but in the case of an emergency, the plane may need to get on the ground and safely. I would venture to guess there are more choices on overland routes than over-water.
Not necessarily the case with the Andes in the way.
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Old Jun 4, 15, 9:21 am
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Originally Posted by rjw242 View Post
Not necessarily the case with the Andes in the way.
But still twice as many choices than being over an ocean.
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