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Hereís a flight status Iíve never seen - enroute loop, mid-flight change, "overflew".

Hereís a flight status Iíve never seen - enroute loop, mid-flight change, "overflew".

Old Mar 25, 21, 6:18 am
  #1  
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Hereís a flight status Iíve never seen - enroute loop, mid-flight change, "overflew".

UA505 today, a red eye from SFO to IAH. What happened?! Overflew?!

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Old Mar 25, 21, 7:03 am
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Flightaware shows a funny little loop en route, somewhere around Coalinga.
(Did the pilots get thrown off by having a whiff of the cows?)
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Old Mar 25, 21, 7:19 am
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From the timeline on flightstats, it appears that for some reason they thought they'd have to turn back to SFO, then about fifteen minutes later they changed their minds and continued on to IAH.

Times are PDT:
25 Mar
00:58

Time Adjustment

Estimated Runway Arrival changed from Mar-25-2021 6:01 AM to Mar-25-2021 6:15 AM

Estimated Gate Arrival changed from Mar-25-2021 6:16 AM to Mar-25-2021 6:30 AM
25 Mar
01:03

Status Redirected

Scheduled Runway Arrival changed from Mar-25-2021 5:53 AM

Estimated Runway Arrival changed from Mar-25-2021 6:15 AM

Estimated Gate Arrival changed from Mar-25-2021 6:30 AM

Arrival Gate changed from 19

Arrival Terminal changed from E

Baggage changed from C6

Status changed from Active to Redirected

Redirected/diverted airport changed to SFO
25 Mar
01:12

Gate Adjustment

Departure Gate changed from F12 to E13
25 Mar
01:12

Time Adjustment

Estimated Runway Arrival changed to Mar-25-2021 1:30 AM

Estimated Gate Arrival changed to Mar-25-2021 3:54 AM

Departure Gate changed from E13 to F12

Arrival Gate changed to E13

Arrival Terminal changed to 3
(https://www.flightstats.com/v2/fligh...tId=1056851413)
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Old Mar 25, 21, 7:20 am
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Looks like they were thinking of returning to SFO... and then decided never mind...



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Old Mar 25, 21, 8:32 am
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But they didn't arrive early. They arrived on time. If you're scheduled to arrive at 5:59am and you park at the gate at 5:59am you are "on time"; you are not "arrived early".

-RM
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Old Mar 25, 21, 8:54 am
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Been on a few early AM LAX-SFO flights where we do loops somewhere over the Monterey / Santa Cruz region in order to get into the right flow control landing slot for SFO...

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Old Mar 25, 21, 10:49 am
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I looked up the internal flight feed because I was curious as well. I see exactly what happened, nothing noteworthy quite honestly. There was a change to the FAA flight plan aircraft designation en route.

Whenever FAA inputted amendments occur the United website gets a bit wonky. Happens with diversions, cancelled diversions, potential destination changes, amended call signs, etc.

Last edited by clubord; Mar 25, 21 at 10:54 am
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Old Mar 25, 21, 10:58 am
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Originally Posted by clubord View Post
I looked up the internal flight feed because I was curious as well. I see exactly what happened, nothing noteworthy quite honestly. There was a change to the FAA flight plan aircraft designation en route.

Whenever FAA inputted amendments occur the United website gets a bit wonky. Happens with diversions, cancelled diversions, potential destination changes, amended call signs, etc.
Thanks for the detail.

Why would there be a change en route? Would the loop have been just holding until the plan got finally updated, or were they actually heading back to SFO until they weren't?
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Old Mar 25, 21, 11:42 am
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Originally Posted by fumje View Post
Thanks for the detail.

Why would there be a change en route? Would the loop have been just holding until the plan got finally updated, or were they actually heading back to SFO until they weren't?
Aviation is always dynamic and things could change for a variety of reasons. It would be pure speculation at this point.
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Old Mar 25, 21, 4:14 pm
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Originally Posted by clubord View Post
There was a change to the FAA flight plan aircraft designation en route.
While understanding "change to FAA flight plan", what does "flight plan aircraft designation" actually mean?
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Old Mar 25, 21, 5:28 pm
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Originally Posted by cesco.g View Post
While understanding "change to FAA flight plan", what does "flight plan aircraft designation" actually mean?
Equipment Codes associated with navigation and/or communication capabilities for each aircraft. Or in this case, the flight was designated a ďLifeguardĒ flight enroute.
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Last edited by clubord; Mar 25, 21 at 5:42 pm
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Old Mar 25, 21, 5:47 pm
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Originally Posted by clubord View Post
the flight was designated a ďLifeguardĒ flight enroute.
Being on a Lifeguard flight always gives me a good feeling about the airline.
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Old Mar 25, 21, 6:57 pm
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This thread reminded me of a recent flown flight. Never experienced a track this south - noticed the odd flight path around Virginia, which also explained the speed fluctuation - of course, air traffic in the area can be unpredictable.

https://flightaware.com/live/flight/...540Z/KLAX/KEWR

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Old Mar 25, 21, 11:32 pm
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Originally Posted by clubord View Post
Equipment Codes associated with navigation and/or communication capabilities for each aircraft. Or in this case, the flight was designated a ďLifeguardĒ flight enroute.
Perhaps I'm missing something and a quick Google provided relatively old results, e.g. a FAA doc from 2012, and a 2004 a.net thread. Unless something has changed (and seemingly "lifeguard" is an outdated term so perhaps I did miss something), why would becoming a "lifeguard" flight cause an apparent 14 minute increase in flight time? That seems to be quite the opposite of the intent; the precious cargo would have arrived earlier had they not been designated for expedited ATC handling.
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Old Mar 26, 21, 7:16 am
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Originally Posted by jtet View Post
Perhaps I'm missing something and a quick Google provided relatively old results, e.g. a FAA doc from 2012, and a 2004 a.net thread. Unless something has changed (and seemingly "lifeguard" is an outdated term so perhaps I did miss something), why would becoming a "lifeguard" flight cause an apparent 14 minute increase in flight time? That seems to be quite the opposite of the intent; the precious cargo would have arrived earlier had they not been designated for expedited ATC handling.
You are absolutely correct, the call sign is "MEDEVAC" aligns the FAA with ICAO protocols, that did change quite some time ago. However internally the carriage of urgent medical shipments within United Airlines Cargo is still referred to as "LifeGuard." Apologize for the confusion.

Could they have been transporting harvested organs to a more centralized location then a possible recipient presented itself elsewhere causing an urgent change of destination for time-critical cargo....of which was then canceled? Did a new organ recipient present itself locally and it just took time to work its way up the system? Who knows? We can speculate for days on exactly what happened and by whom.

Point is, there was holding issued just after departure which is very unusual especially during that time of the night and the drastically reduced air traffic from the pandemic; I would venture to guess that present position hold was requested from operations or dispatch not by ATC to allow time for the communication channels to process (again, total speculation.) The odd Flight Status posted also indicates a possible destination change (SFO)/return to original destination (IAH) was entered into the system by the FAA. Finally, the declaration of the LifeGuard cargo on board enroute would suggest the situation was quite dynamic and there was a quite a bit going on behind the scenes by multiple entities.
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Last edited by clubord; Mar 26, 21 at 8:14 am
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