Agreed. Looks like he flew a wide arc around Illinois and Missouri and then landed or is landing. Fuel dump? (The 763 does have that capability.)
If the wide arc isn't to lower the weight for landing, I would be very interested to see if it were being done for troubleshooting purposes. I had been led to understand that after the Alaska Air MD80 accident, protocols had been changed at most airlines such that in-air troubleshooting was to be kept to a minimum and the best plan was instead to get the thing on the ground as soon as possible. Because that is a very sweeping generalization, there will of course be problems that should or even must be addressed in the air before landing (e.g. a gear that won't deploy).
It will of course suck for all concerned if either (1) the DFW
diversion was d/t a mechanical which was believed to be resolved and which reappeared after the same airframe took off again; or (2) equipment was swapped at DFW
after which problems were experienced with the second airframe. The latter of course would just be a very bad day for the airline, and a substantial statistical anomoly. Flytecomm has the LAX
leg on a 762 and the DFW
leg on a 763 with the STL
leg on a 757. AA
.com has the LAX
leg arriving at A23 and the DFW
leg departing from A24 and arriving at C18 in STL
with the STL
leg departing from C16. Presumably the last leg will indeed be on a different airframe.
I suppose that some kind of flag stop could be involved, but that just seems odd, particularly with the route taken by the aircraft in the STL