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Delta flights from South Africa have been forced to make stops in places like Boston and Puerto Rico because of 'payload' issues

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Two Delta Air Lines flights from South Africa have had to make fuel stops in the past week. A mix of worsening weather conditions for aircraft and increased passenger and/or cargo count might be to blame, experts say. Both flights, operating from Johannesburg to Atlanta, were operated by Airbus A350-900 XWB planes. Two Delta Air Lines flights from South Africa to the US have had to make unscheduled stops for fuel in recent days on their way back to the US. The first diversion occurred on… (www.yahoo.com) Más...

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mbrews
mbrews 2
From the article : " Delta formerly flew the Boeing 777-200 on the Atlanta-Johannesburg route, the longest route in Delta's network, until the aircraft was retired in October 2020. As the only aircraft in Delta's fleet capable of flying the route, the A350 was used to relaunch the route in August and Delta is still adjusting to using the aircraft on ultra-long-haul routes. "

So, the basic issue is A350 payload capacity and range limitation from a high altitude airport.

Johannesburg S.A. airport is 5558 feet ( 1694 meters ) above sea level, and December is summer season in Southern hemisphere
volvodadfast
DL201 is stopping in Miami today before continuing to Atlanta so the problem continues for Delta. It would be good to know whether there is some shortcomings in the A350 performance.
mbrews
mbrews 2
DL201 did a 55 minute turnaround in Miami this morning December 5, then continued a planned 600 mile leg to Atlanta.
TorstenHoff
Torsten Hoff 1
The A350 has achieved its fuel consumption goals, but maximum range is at high altitudes. If the aircraft isn’t able to reach those due to a combination of passengers, cargo and fuel load, then the range will be cut short. There is also the possibility of stronger headwinds at the altitude that is optimal for maximum range.
andyc852
If there is a shortcoming on performance it is very recent. They have been operating A350-900 on this route for about a year without the stop which has been just this last week
mbrews
mbrews 1
Two recent changes : Full. Passenger count of US citizens fleeing Omicron before winter holidays. Strong headwinds and winds from the west on this ultra-long range route. It is instructive to watch UA 187, United’s daily flight JNB to Newark. They manage to get to Newark with the B 789. Yesterday the UA 187 hugged the west coast of Africa before the Atlantic crossing.
andyc852
So a little more digging and I came up with this. DAL A359 shows a passenger capacity of 32/48/226 for First Business and coach, and UAL 789 (which is what they operate on the route) shows 48 First, No Business and 204 in coach. So DAL is carrying 54 more pax (if all seats are filled). My globe and string navigator puts the UAL aircraft pretty much on the GC route just clipping Liberia on the way. EWR closer to JNB than ATL but not a lot
andyc852
Last three flights have had a "technical stop" I would be interested to know why they haave all been at different airports. BOS. SJU. and MIA?
linbb
linbb 1
Sounds like normal operation to me happens just like they said for those reasons only.
andyc852
I would be interested to know if pilots who are type rated on the A330 are also type rated on the A350. This would also assume that they are rated to fly international operations.
sgbelverta
sharon bias 1
Geography isn't my strong suit, but isn't Boston further away from Johannesburg than Atlanta? Miami and San Juan stops make sense.

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