On Flightradar24 I saw an Airbus 320 circling a lot before landing. My best guess is for some reason the aircraft had to stay in air for longer time due to unknown reasons. If this is the case, why didn't it enter a holding pattern or take longer vectors instead?

Picture below:

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    $\begingroup$ We can exclude two possible causes: - doing relay for the Tour de France twitter.com/flightradar24/status/1304072106947289088?lang=de - showing passengers the northern lights news.com.au/travel/travel-advice/flights/… There you go, 2 possible reasons less ;) ! $\endgroup$
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Mar 11 at 21:55
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    $\begingroup$ These would help us answer, whatever you can find: What is the scale on that map? Which day, time (and time zone)? What weather there and then (was it just drifting with the wind, with steady bank and airspeed for comfort)? What other traffic there and then (busy runways or gates)? Any en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NOTAM? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 12 at 0:50
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    $\begingroup$ (As you're new here, Dev, in case it's not obvious, to reply, please don't add more comments like this one, but instead edit your question. Great first question, btw.) $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 12 at 0:52
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    $\begingroup$ FYI circling is another thing: skybrary.aero/articles/circling-approach. What we see is closer to orbiting. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 12 at 10:40
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    $\begingroup$ This is very odd - a new user asks a question and it's answered by 2 more new users... $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Commented Mar 12 at 12:30

2 Answers 2


Too much altitude or time. In rare cases an aircraft will have too much fuel to land. I suspect they had time to kill and not enough room to do it.

  • $\begingroup$ You wouldn’t hold like that though, you would set up a hold in the airbus flight management system and it would hold an exact holding pattern in space - not drifting to the south east in circles! $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 16 at 17:45

There could be multiple reasons for an aircraft to be doing such circling.

  1. The airline might be conducting some flying training (yes, a costly affair when you can do the same on a simulator)
  2. They could be doing some test flying on that aircraft to evaluate something.
  3. They were put on a hold but not over the usual holding point for Kolkotta.
  4. It could even be due to some blockage on the runway that required the ATC to place the incoming flight on a loose hold but not over any specific point.

Unless we know the specifics it is difficult to give a particular reason.

  • $\begingroup$ The 4th point is a good one. $\endgroup$
    – Gabe
    Commented Apr 11 at 15:52

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