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UA 935 On 28 Jan 2013 Returning To London

Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:58 pm

UA 935 (LHR-LAX) made a U-turn just south of Iceland and is returning to London, according to Flightradar24:
http://www.flightradar24.com/UAL935#!/2013-01-28/14:30/UAL935

It's interesting because it's not squawking 7700, so it's no emergency due to mechanical problems.

What other issues could cause a plane to turn back after already going that far, that isn't a "real" emergency? Medical issues? Passenger on a no-fly list? That's certainly a long flight for those passengers, to be going "nowhere"  
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gabrielchew
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RE: UA 935 On 28 Jan 2013 Returning To London

Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:16 pm

Maybe the pilot fancied some cold heavy rain rather than Californian sun? (Weather in London is horrible right now). Must be very frustrating for the pax, especially if you're down the back.
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roseflyer
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RE: UA 935 On 28 Jan 2013 Returning To London

Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:11 pm

From Flightaware, it looks like they descended to 18,000 ~ 21,000ft. That’s in line with what they’d do if they lost one of their packs. The airplane has to fly lower because it can’t maintain adequate cabin pressure at a normal cruising altitude. The airplane is still safe to fly, but its range will be seriously degraded. They wouldn’t have been able to make it to LAX. It’s not a good idea to fly too far when you are down on packs at that altitude since if you lose another, you have to fly down at 10,000ft, but the airplane is not required to divert to the nearest suitable alternate.

They likely could have gone to IAD/EWR, but in this case it appears they were closer to LHR. Many passengers would prefer to be in LHR to make alternate arrangements rather than fly to IAD/EWR and get rerouted there.
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