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Why oh why is this non-stop flight flying such a zig-zag? (screenshot from FlightAware)JBU1825

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It isn't, as a screenshot taken later in the flight will show:

enter image description here

The dashed line is FlightAware's attempt to plot the planned route of flight. It's not always accurate, and FlightAware sometimes includes strange zig-zags. If you go to skyvector.com, choose "Flight Plan," and paste in the route shown by FlightAware (BEECH5 BAHMA URSUS UL780 TBG UL780 VAKUD UL780 TRU UV1 ATATU ATATU2), you'll get the more logical route that appears to match the actual flown route:

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ The skyvector site, along with the flight plan info from flightware, is a very useful combination of tools. Thank so much, Zach. $\endgroup$ – David Oct 23 '18 at 1:26
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    $\begingroup$ So this is basically just another example of "you get what you pay for"? Maybe the question should be clarified if the screenshots are from FlightAware, to indicate that fact? $\endgroup$ – user Oct 23 '18 at 9:14
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    $\begingroup$ Makes me wonder where in the heck FlightAware gets crazy routings like that. It routes it to the most desolate, uninhabited place in the middle of the Amazon rain forest. There are absolutely no airports, navaids, airways or waypoints anywhere near there. Maybe a few hidden landing strips for drug runners. $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Oct 23 '18 at 14:51
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    $\begingroup$ Per skyvector it looks like there's another intersection called ATATU over there, evidently FA is getting confused between that one and the one in Peru. $\endgroup$ – fooot Oct 24 '18 at 16:32
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(ignoring FlightAware issues)

Possible reasons for such a deviation:

  • When air traffic controllers in a country are on a strike then airliners have to fly around that country.
  • When there is weather en route then pilots need to deviate around that which can be a substantial detour
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