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Delta flight from South Africa to Atlanta diverted to Boston for "technical specifications"

A Delta Airbus 350 (Flight 201) landed at Boston Logan on Sunday November 29, 2021. Flight was scheduled from Johannesburg (JNB) to Atlanta (ATL). The explanation in the news stated the reason for the temporary diversion "has to do with technical specifications of our A350 aircraft and the payload of this particular flight". There was also a crew change as reported. Passengers were not allowed to deplane during the diversion ground time. Does anyone have more specific information on… ( Plus d'info...

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mbrews 22
The story is a bit strange. DL201 flight JNB-ATL is usually about 8500 miles taking 17 hours. The incident diversion DL201 to Boston was 7962 miles, taking 19 hours !

So, may have been unfavorable winds causing the flight to become fuel limited, hence diversion to Boston.

Interestingly, the DL201 planned for Thursday 02 December is scheduled to operate JNB-SJU, Johannesburg to San Juan Puerto Rico. A planned refuelling stop perhaps?
Daniel Baker 6
I think the duration may have a calculation error; looking into it.
Torsten Hoff 5
I once was on a Delta flight from Los Angeles to Frankfurt which wound up having to make a stop in Bonn to refuel. Bonn's airport is just 85 miles from Frankfurt.
user3956 1
A guy I know was on a Philippines Airline flight from the US to PH and they stopped somewhere on the way to refuel, maybe it was Palau, he didn't tell me but he was mad pissed because they hadn't mentioned this when he bought the ticket and it made him lose a connecting flight from Manila to Davao.
Peter Fuller 15
“Flying an A350 from JNB to ATL initially presented Delta with a problem. Due to the city’s high elevation, the A350 couldn’t reach Atlanta at maximum payload. That’s why the carrier originally added the tag flight to Cape Town (CPT), allowing the plane to refuel at sea level before beginning the 8,130-mile trek back to the U. S.”

So sometimes an enroute stop is needed when payload and/ or weather make a Johannesburg-Atlanta nonstop not possible.
Andy Cruickshank 7
I know they intended to operate via CPT when they introduced the A350 to replace the B777 previously used. I do not think they ever operated via CPT in the end
Colin Seftel 1
I live in Cape Town and can confirm that Delta isn't operating from FACT (CPT).

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Julian Joffe 9
Another knee jerk response not sure why you think it is racist - please explain

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

KellyNYC 6
Some thought the words he used were racist, like "China virus"....not the act of banning flights.
Jackson Franco -6
um, how is China virus racist? The virus originated in China. So, you think saying Spanish flu is racist? How about Chinese food? Is that racist? What about saying Canadian geese? Get real.
KellyNYC 1
"Some thought....." Stop trying to start a fight.
Bill Morris -1
I'm blaming it on George Soros! He's up to no good again! LOL
feknight -2
Agree! - Total overreaction. An example of Afriphobia. There are now 26 countries (at the last count I saw published) with reported cases of Omicron. Are all 26 on the prohibited/restricted/tracked list? NO. And what about the countries that ARE on that list? Not all of those countries even have cases of Omicron. So why are they being tracked specially and differently than those other countries? It's just an unscientific, fear based list - Afriphobia.
chugheset 0
I love the fact the the South African doctor who first identified the Omnicron variant is astonished a the over-reaction by certain countries. She further stated no one there who is infected is even hospitalized? Also, yesterday Fauci called it the Wuhan virus for the first time.
Peter Blouin 2
Thanks for the link... It does provide some reasoning as to why the diverted flights.
godutch -2
This May I was scheduled on that flight for December 16th-Jan 3rd (MY destination was Cape Town). Delta took the Cape Town leg down and left me high and dry scheduled to JNB as the final destination. So, not wanting to clear customs in JNB and do the domestic trip to CPT, I changed to (DL/KLM) ATL-AMS-CPT. Then KLM simply canc my AMS-CPT flight on the day I I changed my date to Nov 1st - 16th...of which I completed. Frustrating.
homburge 13
My flight planning software shows BOS as 505 nm (580 sm) closer than ATL. As of the time I’m writing this, the headwind component drops from 39 kts to 31 kts also, on a direct great circle routing.
Peter Blouin 5
Interestingly enough this is true. Perhaps that played a part in this decision. I don't think KBOS is an A-350 crew base. Thanks for your research...
KellyNYC 1
Given the amount of time in air from JNB, perhaps they had time to fly them in from JFK or ATL.
Andy Cruickshank 3
Wow. Does not seem to make sense but mine is "feeling" and not fact!
Andy Cruickshank 0
Is that a great circle route that might take the aircraft over some undesirable countries. The normal routing to ATL is out over Namibia and then a long stretch over the Atlantic with no overflights over Africa. That could account for BOS being less miles?
Colin Seftel 4
Any deviation from a great circle was more likely in order to accommodate ETOPS. There are no undesirable (for aviation) countries in Africa.
rebomar 9
On long distance flight the amount of required reserve fuel is huge. One way to reduce this is to dispatch the aircraft at some point short of the original destination, in this case Boston. So at your re-dispatch point you must have a set amount of fuel. If you have it dispatch will re-dispatch the flight to the original destination. If not then the flight lands at your original dispatched airpot, Boston. I've had one flight when the wind were stronger than forecast and we had to land in Chicago rather than our destination, Dallas. Technical Specs.
Andy Cruickshank 0
Was the original filed destination ATL or BOS?
rebomar 11
ATL. You are filed all the way to ATL for ATC purposes. You are dispatched to BOS with a re-dispatch point that is less than 6 hours from ATL. At this point dispatch can reduce the amount of reserve fuel required and if you have the required fuel you continue to ATL, if not you advise ATC and change your destination to BOS. This is per Flag carrier FARs. Been too long since I could quote the reg. Common for long hauls.
Andy Cruickshank 3
Thank you for the clear explanation. This suggests that Delta may in fact routinely follow this practice and wind conditions dictated that they have to go to BOS. I wish I had a glbe and a piece of string to see the GC route and if it is different from the track normally flown. Stay safe
zenonp 6
> I wish I had a globe and a piece of string...

Globe & string dot com:
carpetshoe 1
Perhaps the most interesting thing here is that the diversion seems to have been planned from the moment of takeoff in SA.

Here's my quick and dirty visualization:
Derrick Rosslee 1
Yes, I agree. The decision was made on the ground at JNB.
Andy Cruickshank 1
I think it was shown on Flight Aware as via SJU a couple of days before
dee9bee 6
Just a guess on my part...Maybe BOS was the only place with a fresh A350 crew available. JNB-SJU on the 2nd? Plenty of time for crew schedule to pre-position a crew for the fuel stop before going SJU-ATL.
jeff slack 17
Stopped for a quick refresh of paint maybe?
Pecos Llama 5
Heh. I understood that reference.
carpetshoe 2
The diversion seems to have been planned from the moment of take off as can be seen pretty clearly by my quick visualization:
Joe Keifer 3
Delta had a novel issue recently on a flight out of somewhere in New York to somewhere else: A woman sitting in 13A was caught breast feeding her cat! Gotta give a shout out to Delta passengers on this one!
Robert Brass 1
Perhaps this is an excellent example as to why US Airlines should be flying the B-747-8i on these extra long-haul flights.
Andy Cruickshank 1
They used to run B777-200 on this route and sold all 18. They still run many B767s. I have been monitoring these flights for a while now and these two are the only diversions I have observed. I will continue to monitor.
KitBagJack 0
Perhaps it was the “flawed pant” issue?
Fernando Grilo -8
It does not make any sense to go all the way to Boston.
Dubslow 15
Boston was 500 nautical miles less than Atlanta

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