MikeE07
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Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Sun Dec 16, 2012 5:57 am

Hey all, I was just tracking FedEx flight 9796 from KDOV into KCHS on FlightAware. I then tracked it as flightaware said it was heading to CLT, when suddenly it turned towards the west, and as of now (approx. 0100Z) it is well over Georgia. Any ideas? Thanks!
 
AA94
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Sun Dec 16, 2012 6:45 am

According to FlightStats, it diverted to Atlanta. Reason unknown.

http://www.flightstats.com/go/Flight...&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=co-op
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BMI727
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Sun Dec 16, 2012 6:49 am

Quoting MikeE07 (Thread starter):
Any ideas?

Sweep flight?
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RussianJet
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:26 am

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 2):
Sweep flight?

What on earth is a sweep flight?
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Spacepope
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:53 am

Quoting RussianJet (Reply 3):
What on earth is a sweep flight?

Part empty flights that take off, head a certain direction in case another station needs the lift capacity, then heads to a hub. For example I've seen one out of DEN that heads out towards GJT, down to ABQ and then over to MEM.

Here's another one, though more direct:

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/FDX1329

That routing adds 30 min at least to the flight time.


EDIT: Here's the DEN sweep flight: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/F...1/history/20121213/0207Z/KDEN/KMEM

Key info:Distance Direct: 872 sm Planned: 1,795 sm

[Edited 2012-12-15 23:56:04]
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captainmeeerkat
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:55 am

I believe FX and maybe others operate a system where they have a certain number of aircraft (one, two, ten..who knows) in the air with a full fuel tank but no cargo. They fly indirect routes around major centres/hub incase another a/c goes tech. The supply line doesn't get disrupted and all the boys and girls get their Xmas presents on time. These are known as sweep flights.
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RussianJet
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Sun Dec 16, 2012 6:07 pm

Quoting Spacepope (Reply 4):
Part empty flights that take off, head a certain direction in case another station needs the lift capacity

Thanks for the explanation - appreciated.
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unattendedbag
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Sun Dec 16, 2012 8:38 pm

Quoting Captainmeeerkat (Reply 5):
I believe FX and maybe others operate a system where they have a certain number of aircraft (one, two, ten..who knows) in the air with a full fuel tank but no cargo.

Not exactly. FedEx does not have aircraft in the air circling over major metropolitan areas or flying around empty just waiting for the divert order.

Instead, they will send larger aircraft to smaller markets. When that large aircraft departs for Memphis, half full, it may get the call to divert to another city to pick up extra cargo. It might even get that call before it leaves the ground. Typically, when a plane has to divert in midair, that is a sign that an aircraft went tech and that "in-air" aircraft is needed to carry that cargo.
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Viscount724
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Sun Dec 16, 2012 8:49 pm

Quoting unattendedbag (Reply 7):
Quoting Captainmeeerkat (Reply 5):
I believe FX and maybe others operate a system where they have a certain number of aircraft (one, two, ten..who knows) in the air with a full fuel tank but no cargo.

Not exactly. FedEx does not have aircraft in the air circling over major metropolitan areas or flying around empty just waiting for the divert order.

I recall a thread on this a few years ago that gave several examples of the routings flown by these empty aircraft. Are you implying they used to do this but no longer do?
 
delta88
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Sun Dec 16, 2012 10:07 pm

My manager used to be a pilot for FedEx, back in the day of low fuel prices, and what FedEx would do is keep lots of Empty aircraft airborne, and what they actually were used for was to respond to changes in demand of Cargo. Say there was a large order that needed to be moved to Memphis, then the empty aircraft(s) would be sent to where the help is needed. and the aircraft would fly them to Memphis(or where ever else its needed). They tend not to really do this during the general part of the year (March-Mid November) But during the holiday seasons of giving, they keep more aircraft in the air, or over fill them with fuel so they can divert to get extra cargo. Of course today most likely it was a diversion, but without knowing the type of aircraft and how full the cargo is, one wont know until more information is given
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HPRamper
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Sun Dec 16, 2012 10:21 pm

Under normal conditions, sweep flights are partially full aircraft that fly zigzag routes en route to the hub so as to be available in case of freight overflow or mx transload. However, because of the excessive volumes of peak season, FedEx does indeed fly empty aircraft as sweeps.
 
unattendedbag
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Sun Dec 16, 2012 10:35 pm

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 8):
Are you implying they used to do this but no longer do?

That's what I am implying. According to information I learned while visiting the FedEx complex back in July. They can fill the over capacity at random stations by having under capacity at others. I can't remember the exact example he used, but an MD-11 might be sent to Oakland, CA. Oakland can't fill the MD-11 so it will depart to anoter station before it gets to Memphis. If no over capacity exists, it flys direct to Memphis.
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fdxco
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Sun Dec 16, 2012 11:25 pm

None of the above gents. It was a ferry flight to CHS to pick up a load for a military charter. It departed CHS as FX9706 heading to JFK for fuel and then on across the pond.
 
JHCRJ700
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:16 am

Quoting Captainmeeerkat (Reply 5):
I believe FX and maybe others operate a system where they have a certain number of aircraft (one, two, ten..who knows) in the air with a full fuel tank but no cargo. They fly indirect routes around major centres/hub incase another a/c goes tech. The supply line doesn't get disrupted and all the boys and girls get their Xmas presents on time. These are known as sweep flights.
Quoting unattendedbag (Reply 7):
Not exactly. FedEx does not have aircraft in the air circling over major metropolitan areas or flying around empty just waiting for the divert order.

I saw recently on some documentary about FedEx that they have at least two aircraft in the air that can divert as necessary.
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HPRamper
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:25 am

Quoting JHCRJ700 (Reply 13):
I saw recently on some documentary about FedEx that they have at least two aircraft in the air that can divert as necessary.

Each region has a sweep aircraft. IIRC the upper midwest sweep is an Airbus that comes out of ATW. But they are not empty, maybe in years past it was cost effective but the fuel is just too expensive now to make flying an empty plane around a viable idea especially when they are not utilized as a sweep the majority of the time. There is nearly always freight on board, as a revenue flight.
 
yvphx
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Mon Dec 17, 2012 4:09 am

Here is a great example of a sweep aircraft and its pattern:
http://flightaware.com/live/flight/F...1/history/20121204/0155Z/KDEN/KMEM
 
Spacepope
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Mon Dec 17, 2012 4:26 am

Quoting yvphx (Reply 15):

I posted that flight in reply #4

In the past week it's diverted to ELP and OKC presumably to pick up freight.
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chrisnh
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:19 pm

Quoting unattendedbag (Reply 7):
Instead, they will send larger aircraft to smaller markets.

Here at Manchester, NH we are occasionally the recipient of these 'sweep flights' but rarely the provider of them. The DC-10s and A300s we get go directly to and come directly from Memphis and Indianapolis. This time of year, though, any flight can be 'turned in a whole other direction' at the snap of a finger, which I think is a marvelous core competency that I know FedEx has but not sure of for UPS.

I originally thought the Portland, Maine 757 was a 'sweep flight' (being a bit larger than the market needs). But that one goes directly to Memphis each night. I have seen no evidence of it being diverted, which leads me to believe it always flies mostly full.
 
HPRamper
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Tue Dec 18, 2012 3:51 am

Quoting ChrisNH (Reply 17):
I originally thought the Portland, Maine 757 was a 'sweep flight' (being a bit larger than the market needs). But that one goes directly to Memphis each night. I have seen no evidence of it being diverted, which leads me to believe it always flies mostly full.

I think the 757 would be the perfect size for the Portland ME market, since it is the only ramp in the state. All that cargo likely funnels through PWM. If the flight were less than about 2/3 full regularly it would be connected with another market instead of going straight to MEM.
 
MikeE07
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:13 am

Thanks guys! I got a lot out of this thread. Not too far from doing my first solo flight in a Cessna 172, so even little random tidbits of knowledge like this motivate me along the way!     
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:05 am

Quoting unattendedbag (Reply 7):
when a plane has to divert in midair, that is a sign that an aircraft went tech and that "in-air" aircraft is needed to carry that cargo.
Quoting Spacepope (Reply 4):
Quoting RussianJet (Reply 3):
What on earth is a sweep flight?

Part empty flights that take off, head a certain direction in case another station needs the lift capacity, then heads to a hub.

Exactly what I had thought, a diversion which could be mainly tech or medical.
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chrisnh
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:44 pm

Quoting HPRamper (Reply 18):
All that cargo likely funnels through PWM. If the flight were less than about 2/3 full regularly it would be connected with another market instead of going straight to MEM.

PWM has always puzzled me, L.L. Bean used to be a FedEx customer but now they use UPS...which doesn't fly their own metal into PWM. I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say it's because there's no space...not because they don't want to. Instead, L.L. Bean trucks it all here to MHT where much of it flies to Louisville (domestic) or Philadelphia (international).

PWM also seems to be a very 'thin' market for freight; otherwise FedEx wouldn't keep the 757 there all day...they'd do a double rotation to/from Memphis each day rather than the single circuit they do now.

With only UPS to consider, PWM probably wouldn't invest in more cargo ramp space unless and until UPS said they needed it. Air cargo is a two-horse race, and I guess UPS figures that they can truck stuff from Maine to Manchester (and v.v.) more economically.
 
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RE: Whats Up With FedEx 9796?

Wed Dec 19, 2012 4:35 pm

Folks, the key is the flight number. 9000 series flight numbers, at FedEx, are charters, ferries, and test flights.

Some have mentioned sweep flights and inflight orbiting extras. While you might have seen a documentary about such things from the past, in todays world inflight empty planes orbiting to pick up extra freight is out of the question and is not done.

There are sweep flights that are planned to depart at a specific time and fly inbound to the hub and have extra capacity to pick up extra cargo. This is usually as a result of another plane having a problem delaying departure. The sweep aircraft can be rerouted to stop and pick up cargo from the flight stuck on the ground. But these sweep flights always have regular flight numbers and flight plans.

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