This scheduled Belavia service to Barcelona appears to be in a very sloppy holding pattern where they aren't correcting for wind at all. Is it normal for a passenger jet to fly like this?

enter image description here


1 Answer 1


It does indeed look like they are not correcting for wind. The current wind over Belarus at 10km altitude looks like this:

Wind over Belarus
(screenshot from windy.com)

That is consistent with the direction in which they are drifting. Such a flight path is not a normal holding pattern, which is based on a holding fix. While wind might push the aircraft somewhat off the nominal racetrack pattern, they would at least regularly overfly this fix (although modern RNAV systems are pretty good at compensating for wind).

I can only speculate on why they are flying like this. Most likely they are not holding at a specified fix. They might have been instructed to hold at current position by ATC, probably while they figure out if they are still allowed to fly into the EU, after the European Council has called for a ban:

The European Council:

  • [...] calls on the Council to adopt the necessary measures to ban overflight of EU airspace by Belarusian airlines and prevent access to EU airports of flights operated by such airlines;


Update: It seems they are returning now:

FR24 screenshot

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    $\begingroup$ They might have been instructed to 'hold at current position' by ATC -- most likely orbit left. In a Boeing for example attitude hold in a bank does the trick. Related though yet unanswered: Why did BA 199 fly a missed approach followed by circles? $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    May 27, 2021 at 5:25
  • $\begingroup$ @ymb1 Never heard orbit left before, but that sounds like what they're doing. I'm not super familiar with the E-Jets, but as far as I know they don't have an attitude hold mode. There is a TCS (toch control steering) button on the yoke, but according to the Auto Flight System description that is only for overwriting pitch. Lateral control resumes when releasing the button. No idea what modes they used. $\endgroup$
    – Bianfable
    May 27, 2021 at 7:15

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