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I am currently analyzing flight data. For some flights landing at Frankfurt Airport.

Some flight paths overlaid on a map

As you can see in the graphic, some of the planes fly out about 100km to then fly again towards the runway. Some only fly out for a short distance. How can you explain that?

I assume that after the cruise phase, the approach phase depends on factors such as traffic volume at the airport (how many want to land at my time (or in my 10min radius)) and take off?) How is the Operating direction at the airport and what kind planes want to land. Since I was told that the "plane mix" is also relevant, for example 2x MEDIUM aircraft and 3x large.

Are there rules for such behavior? How does the ATC decide here?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to aviation.SE. I'm not really sure I understand what's going on in that picture. How did you obtain that data? the sampling rate looks a bit poor. $\endgroup$ – Federico Jan 29 at 9:02
  • $\begingroup$ Hi @Federico this is flightaware Data. The samling rate is maybe poor but thats ok in that case. I would like to understand why these S/U-loops are approached. And why a flight first so far out before approach. $\endgroup$ – OrgosMos Jan 29 at 10:35
  • $\begingroup$ Closely related: aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/29808/… and aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/12481/… $\endgroup$ – J. Hougaard Jan 29 at 17:41
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As you can see in this question and its answers, whether an aircraft has to go north or south is decided by ATC, as you also mention.

And, as you have correctly heard, the separation is influenced by the kind of aircraft flying in front of you, particularly during landing, as detailed in this answer.

So, in the end, an aircraft might have to fly further out if they have to put more distance between them and the preceding aircraft, or if there are more aircraft in the queue. ATC will decide in base of the currently available runways, the current amount of traffic, and whether any aircraft has declared any kind of emergency.

Note also that the approach paths for the airport are slightly asymmetrical (left side of page 11 and 12 of the pdf respectively), with ~50km on the south west approach, and ~65km on the north east one.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hi @Frederico. Thanks for your answer. Regarding the last Document you linked. Can you please explain to me what this PDF represents? Are these the possible approach routes for Frankfurt Airport? (What exactly do I see on page 11/12?) Where can I find information about how to read the illustrated maps? $\endgroup$ – OrgosMos Apr 2 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ Hi @OrgosMos. (it's FEderico, btw). Those are quite some questions and they require some extensive answers. please consider to ask them either in Aviation Chat or as separate questions. The PDF contains the official charts of Frankfurt Airport, i.e. how aircraft can approach and leave the airspace of the airport. Information on how to read is definitely a different good question to ask. $\endgroup$ – Federico Apr 3 at 9:12

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