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Diversion Airports

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    Diversion Airports

    Sorry if this has been asked and answered before, but earlier today and again less than an hour ago, I watched 2 flights on flightradar that had declared a 7700 emergency.

    First was a Delta A330 out of Amsterdam, that was flying up the North sea, it was on a level Just South of Edinburgh, when it did a u-turn and returned back to Amsterdam.

    Edinburgh regularly handles A330s I believe and Glasgow has regular flights by Delta, Aberdeen would also be a closer option without having to turn around.

    The second one is is a Flybe Dash 8 from London to Edinburgh, that squawked 7700 over Windemere. that turned around and went South to Manchester. I"d have thought Leeds/Bradford would have been closer.

    I realise that for long haul there have to be diversion airports available especially on pan-oceanic flights, but surely for the Delta flight that hadn't reached the open ocean, then any where capable handling the aircraft and the emergency would do?
    And for short city jumpers why double back when there are closer airports that take that type and airline on a scheduled basis?

    Delta have a big base at Amsterdam and maintenance ties with KLM. If the Squark showing an emergency was for technical rather than medical emergency, then Amsterdam would have super long runways, technical assistance and (possibly) a fresh crew. While maybe closer to Edinburgh/Glasgow on a map, when the time of descent is taken into account, Amsterdam was probably not that much longer away.

    Much the same for Flybe, Manchester is a major centre for Flybe flights, although less of a base than it used to be. Again, if technical rather than medical, then Manchester could well have had an available spare aircraft, spare crew, available engineers/spares, or a flight onto which the diverted passengers could be put. The difference Windermere - Leeds and Windermere - Manchester is likely marginal.

    If a captain has the luxury of time when declaring an emergency, then to me it makes sense to select an airport that is known to flight crew, that can offer maintenance assistance immediately, has plenty of ground staff back-up contracted to the Airline should passengers services be required, has stand-by crew available should the current flight-crew run out of hours etc. A 'medical' emergency is likely to lead to at least one and half hours delay on the ground, so available, airline dedicated ground staff will be called on to effect the turn-around and crew hours can become an issue. Most ground handling companies only employ enough staff to comfortably handle the anticipated traffic, diversions cause considerable problems and can knock-on to delays in processing the normal traffic. A 'technical' issue could well mean passengers disembarking, so ground staff essential for food vouchers/accommodation, transit lounge facilities, re-routing etc., while having type certified engineers and spares holding available 'on the spot' will cut the diversion time on the ground considerably.

    While there are times when the crew have to get the aircraft onto the ground asap, more usually there is time to select which airport is likely to get them, or at least their passengers, back into the air and on the way to their intended destination with the least delay. I would think that thinking is shown in both of the examples quoted. Getting nearer to their destination is likely slower than turning back to get the assistance they need at an Airport that can provide it, rather than being stranded at an Airport that can't (and that assistance is in many forms, often not related to the reason for diverting).

    I am not in the industry, but like the postee a keen watcher from outside.
    Last edited by viscount; 3rd October 2017, 23:12.