Diverted flight...back to origin

Old Dec 29, 18, 6:32 pm
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Diverted flight...back to origin

Last night I was killing time on FlightAware and noticed DL3325 DTW-MDT circled very briefly in a holding pattern just short of MDT, then returned all the way to DTW. Interestingly, an AA flight landed maybe 20 minutes later. There was fog in the area, but why would it circle for such a short time then return back to DTW (past PIT, CAK, CLE etc)? Logistically I understand itís easier to reaccommodate from DTW (thought it arrived at midnight) but it only circled maybe twice then returned. And do they really have that much fuel on board?
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Old Dec 29, 18, 6:40 pm
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obviously they had enough fuel

seriously — I’d guess a mechanical that they wouldn’t be able to fix at an outstation, but not so serious as to require immediately landing at the nearest suitable airport
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Old Dec 29, 18, 8:18 pm
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This happened to me one time while flying from ATL to TPA, probably about 15 years ago. That one was weather related. We took off from ATL and got close enough to see the Clearwater area but a line of thunderstorms was quickly approaching and we were unable to get in before they arrived. We circled briefly and then it was announced we would divert to JAX. Before long we were updated that we would be better accommodated in ATL, so back we went. We sat for a few hours and finally were able to get in late that night.

From a fuel standpoint, aircraft operating under instrument flight rules are required to have enough fuel to reach their alternate airport plus an additional 45 minutes. For a short flight that can easily bring you back to your origin.
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Old Dec 29, 18, 8:44 pm
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Originally Posted by mspdoc View Post
From a fuel standpoint, aircraft operating under instrument flight rules are required to have enough fuel to reach their alternate airport plus an additional 45 minutes. For a short flight that can easily bring you back to your origin.
Not entirely true...you can plan a zero-alternate flight, but essentially a flight will carry enough fuel for their origin-destination+alternate(s)+holding+reserve+"extra".
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Old Dec 29, 18, 9:02 pm
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As a MDT traveler, we had bad fog last night, but surprised did not go to PHL, 15 minute flight for a jet
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Old Dec 29, 18, 9:03 pm
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Originally Posted by PBIGuy View Post
Last night I was killing time on FlightAware and noticed DL3325 DTW-MDT circled very briefly in a holding pattern just short of MDT, then returned all the way to DTW. Interestingly, an AA flight landed maybe 20 minutes later. There was fog in the area, but why would it circle for such a short time then return back to DTW (past PIT, CAK, CLE etc)? Logistically I understand itís easier to reaccommodate from DTW (thought it arrived at midnight) but it only circled maybe twice then returned. And do they really have that much fuel on board?
Pilot forgot his wallet?
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Old Dec 30, 18, 6:18 am
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It depends which AA flight you refer to, but a CRJ has different minimums (both plane and pilot wise) then an A319/20. Even if both had same equipment, the pilot might not be current or have enough training to do a lower minimum approach.
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Old Dec 30, 18, 10:46 am
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I was on a E175 UAX from ORD-CHS (Skywest I think was the operator) - we tried to land at CHS - came out of the clouds basically on peoples rooftops - The clouds were really low - pilot immediately gunned it and we went to SPA (Spartanburg) to get fuel and try again

Right before our go around a DL 757 landed and right after our abort 2 Atlas air flights (Boeings freight carrier) and an AA A320 all landed.

Captain said something about ILS something something what they are certified for - not sure if he meant him, the company or the plane. Was pretty confusing, but rather safe than a greasy spot on the tarmac.
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Old Dec 30, 18, 11:35 am
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When bad weather is expected, pilots tend to decide to load more "extra" fuel in anticipation of perhaps having to circle an airport or divert. They don't want to get into a situation where they only have enough fuel to circle the destination airport briefly during ATC delays and then be forced to divert to their alternative airport while they still have enough fuel to get there (including reserve, etc.) according to the rules.

IIRC there was a crash ages ago where the pilots weren't clear that they were declaring a fuel emergency and the aircraft ran out of fuel while circling in a holding pattern. I think it was a foreign carrier, perhaps from South America, trying to land at JFK. If they had told ATC how critical their fuel situation was, of course they would have been vectored in immediately rather than having to continue to wait their turn.
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Old Dec 30, 18, 12:24 pm
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Originally Posted by etsmyers View Post
As a MDT traveler, we had bad fog last night, but surprised did not go to PHL, 15 minute flight for a jet
I don't know what would be the more disappointing:

- the divert back to DTW

- or a divert to PHL and waiting for a bus to be provisioned and the 2-hr ride to MDT
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Old Dec 30, 18, 12:39 pm
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Originally Posted by Hipplewm View Post
I was on a E175 UAX from ORD-CHS (Skywest I think was the operator) - we tried to land at CHS - came out of the clouds basically on peoples rooftops - The clouds were really low - pilot immediately gunned it and we went to SPA (Spartanburg) to get fuel and try again

Right before our go around a DL 757 landed and right after our abort 2 Atlas air flights (Boeings freight carrier) and an AA A320 all landed.

Captain said something about ILS something something what they are certified for - not sure if he meant him, the company or the plane. Was pretty confusing, but rather safe than a greasy spot on the tarmac.
Iíll translate for you. E175 cannot do CAT III (auto land) ILS approaches. The larger planes can.
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Old Dec 30, 18, 1:43 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
... IIRC there was a crash ages ago where the pilots weren't clear that they were declaring a fuel emergency and the aircraft ran out of fuel while circling in a holding pattern. I think it was a foreign carrier, perhaps from South America, trying to land at JFK. If they had told ATC how critical their fuel situation was, of course they would have been vectored in immediately rather than having to continue to wait their turn.

Avianca 52, JFK, Jan 1990; also United 173, Portland, Dec 1978
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Old Dec 30, 18, 2:13 pm
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Originally Posted by clubord View Post


Iíll translate for you. E175 cannot do CAT III (auto land) ILS approaches. The larger planes can.

Yeah, I googled it when i got home, but forgot already - thanks....

My point was more along the lines of just cause it seems you can land or can't land or whatever - a lot of times there is much more to it, especially if you are just perusing flightaware.
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Old Dec 30, 18, 5:11 pm
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Originally Posted by mspdoc View Post
This happened to me one time while flying from ATL to TPA, probably about 15 years ago. That one was weather related. We took off from ATL and got close enough to see the Clearwater area but a line of thunderstorms was quickly approaching and we were unable to get in before they arrived. We circled briefly and then it was announced we would divert to JAX. Before long we were updated that we would be better accommodated in ATL, so back we went. We sat for a few hours and finally were able to get in late that night.

From a fuel standpoint, aircraft operating under instrument flight rules are required to have enough fuel to reach their alternate airport plus an additional 45 minutes. For a short flight that can easily bring you back to your origin.
I had a similar one on US Airways about 10 years ago. LGA-DCA; we actually were on final approach to DCA but aborted landing because something about due to fog they couldn't see the runway within a critical range or something like that, and then we ended up flying back to LGA because there were various connections on board that US decided they could accommodate more easily than diverting to IAD or BWI and letting us off there. Which of course was quite annoying for those of us onboard who were terminating at DCA.
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Old Dec 30, 18, 8:10 pm
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There are a variety of reasons for the following:
a) why this particular flight had to divert
b) why they choose to return back to DTW

As others have said, not all airlines/operators, equipment, or flight crews all have different operational specs, navigation equipment, and qualifications to land in certain conditions.

If an AA A320 was able to land, it doesn't necessarily mean a 9E CR2 could get in.

That said for a diversion, a lot would depend on what is feasible to do at that time of the night, the remaining duty time of the crew, and ability to accommodate passengers.
While a diversion to PIT may have been closer, the crew may have then gone illegal / out of duty time and then be stuck in PIT for the night, now with an out of position airplane and crew. When in fact returning to DTW could mean the ability to get a relief/reserve crew, accommodate passengers on flights in the morning, and/or have the airplane back in position for the next day.
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