Mace

flight turned back

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So I'm presently observing (and sim flying) this real-world flight from KORD to KMCI -- UAL1498, and I figure some of you may have some insight into these ops.

https://flightaware.com/live/flight/UAL1498/history/20190123/0157Z/KORD/KMCI

There is a nasty snowstorm at KC tonight, and this aircraft got to approx Braymer VOR (the beginning of the BQS6 STAR in to KMCI) and began a holding pattern.  After some time circling, it began heading *back* to Chicago (!), after having flown nearly all the way to Kansas City!  

MCI was really socked in (4:53 GMT, 1/23/2019 if you ever want to load that weather in ActiveSky), with low ceiling, .3 mi visibility, gusty winds and snow.    So I have a question for you all -- did they turn back because they 1) didn't have an aircraft capable of doing a CATIII (or whatever it was), or 2) pilot in command and/or ATC decided it was prudent that they should head back to Chicago ? or 3) some other reason?

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Based on what you posted, the most likely answer would be 2. With the more conservative rcam method for determining landing data in use now, it is likely they were not able to obtain valid landing data during arrival, and therefore diverted to the alternate.

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They didn't simply divert to the alternate.  After flying 90% of the way, they went all the way back to their departure airport!  Or, I guess their alternate WAS their departure airport.

Surely that is a rarity in real-world commercial flying?   I mean, wouldn't they have known before taking off about MCI's weather, and cancel or delay the flight?

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Back in the winter of 2010 I was on a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Dublin - some 1,000km / 680mls. The flight the previous day had to be cancelled due to heavy snow and Dublin being closed halfway through that one. We were crammed on to a plane that the airline had found far out on one of the parking ramps after they managed to drum up a crew that was actually meant to go to the Spanish Balearic islands... Anyway, 2 hours after scheduled departure we did indeed get hosed down by the deicers and got off the ground (we were the second or third flight out after Frankfurt had resumed flights). The flight was uneventful, until we reached Ireland, where we circled and circled and circled. The passengers behind us groaned "not again", as the captain came over the intercome announcing that Dublin had been closed once more. Kudos to him - he was very (!) straightforward when it came to communicating with us, the passengers. He said he would be hanging on and was on the line to Ops about flying all the way back to Frankfurt - but feared that they by now did not have enough fuel on board. So - yeah, they were seriously considering taking us all the way back...

 

After about another 3/4 of an hour he then came on to say words to the effect of "sod it! we're heading to Birmingham (300km/190mls). Actually that had also been declared closed, but he would simply declare an emergency due to the low fuel levels". We did go in and landed there, then sat on the apron for about two hours waiting for a fuel truck. By now the crew had been over their hours so they declared an "open bar" - if anyone wanted anything from the drinks trolley, go ahead help yourself. Our departure was then delayed as an Emirates plane had skidded off the taxiway and had to be towed away. Back up in the air (it was going on to 7pm, nearly 11 hours after the scheduled departure and 9 hours after actually taking off from FFM - for a flight that usually takes about 2 hours) we started circling over Dublin again. And circled, and circled, and circled... The captain came back on the intercom "Ladies and Gentlemen - I WILL get you to Ireland. I'm heading for Cork (220km/140mls)".

 

Close to 10pm we then did indeed touch down in Cork, where the captain managed to squeeze between dozens of Aer Lingus, Air France, Ryanairs, Luxairs and whatever else had used that airport as a last resort (Shannon was already full).

TL;DR They obviously don't always know what the situation will be like... 😉

 

Cheers

 

Mallard

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9 hours ago, Mace said:

They didn't simply divert to the alternate.  After flying 90% of the way, they went all the way back to their departure airport!  Or, I guess their alternate WAS their departure airport.

Surely that is a rarity in real-world commercial flying?   I mean, wouldn't they have known before taking off about MCI's weather, and cancel or delay the flight?

The origin was probably their alternate. That is exactly what I meant. Not a rarity at all for short hops. mci and ord are not that far apart. And whole lot better equipped to handle a united airline mainline diversion than springfield.

Edited by KevinAu

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You have fair weather alternates and commercial alternates.  They are completely different. 

Their occ might of acars and told them where to go. Ie go back to base wheres there's buses and a fresh crew on standby /reserve 

Always a nice idea to acars ops if you can, Otherwise you end up with a 737 stuck in Iran like Norwegian did.  Always makes me chuckle when I think of the hassle that's caused. I bet the skipper doesn't give a fig either. 

When I was at easyJet  the Liverpool - Jersey in the winter used to always be below minimas and we would always acars and tell them to divert to either Gatwick or Bristol, reason being we had crews on airport standby at both brs and lgw, so alot easier to recrew and try again once the weather changed. 

But This meant a 4 hour taxi home for the original Liverpool crew as their cars where parked at Liverpool crew room

The tinkers used to always divert back to Liverpool and not Gatwick or briz as advised. Pilots can be selfish like that with the thought of a 4 hour taxi they would only think of themselves. 

Edited by tooting

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