I was browsing ACARS messages listed on an aviation enthusiast website in Greece (similar to FR24 and others), and noticed a message sent to UA124, a 767 from KEWR to LGAV:

ACARS message

The SAT VOR is located at (or very near) the LGAV station, and as for the KEA VOR, it's a commonly used point about 30 miles southeast.

Looking at the flight on FR24, there isn't anything out of the ordinary – the flight did not execute the procedure shown on the ACARS message, and was (presumably) vectored for a normal ILS approach, together with many others. Moreover, I didn't see a "Part 02" message until the plane landed (notice "END OF PART 01" at the bottom of the message)

My question is, what could be the reason to send such a message to a flight? I would understand certain en route messages related to (re)routing (as described in this answer, for instance), but isn't Approach responsible for things like approach and holding?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the quick accept. I understand we have users that are more familiar with Greek procedures, so if a better answer comes along, feel free to change the accept. $\endgroup$
    – ymb1
    Jun 14 '21 at 9:18
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    $\begingroup$ I happened to be online when the answer appeared, and it answers my question, so I accepted it :) And yes, as you suggested, in case anyone has more specific information, I can reconsider. $\endgroup$
    – user12873
    Jun 14 '21 at 9:20
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    $\begingroup$ I've done some digging and updated the answer with a more plausible reason for that message. $\endgroup$
    – ymb1
    Aug 23 '21 at 12:56

That's not a hold instruction, rather the missed approach procedure.

TRK RCL to D11.0. SAT VOR..

Track runway centerline to distance 11 NM from SAT VOR.
Turn right direct KEA.
Hold southeast of KEA on radial 157 (i.e. inbound track 337). Right turns.

Which matches the published approach except for the DME.

Without Part 2, and what initiated Part 1, I initially thought that's an amended missed approach procedure sent by ATC over ACARS. But, after more digging and according to ICAO's air traffic services (ATS) data link status as of Nov 2020, Greece does not provide CPDLC over ACARS (data link ATC comms), and the future plan is to have CPDLC over ATN B1 (a different network from ACARS). Further, Eurocontrol's Public Airport Corner shows that Athens (LGAV) does not provide D-ATIS and DCL (both over ACARS).

I checked the NOTAMs when the question was asked after @RalphJ's comment, but I couldn't find any relating to the missed approach procedure.

What is more likely is that that message is from United's operations center as part of the approach briefing. I still however can't reconcile the difference in DME; the ILS procedures for 03L and 03R (two for each) have the DME at either 5, 12 (two instances), or 14 DME – not 11.

  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps that text was a NOTAM being retrieved over ACARS? Looks like the text instructions change the DME from SAT that's used for the turn to KEA from 13.0 in the diagram to 11.0 in the text. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Jun 14 '21 at 15:35
  • $\begingroup$ 11 v 14 is a simple typo on the numeric keypad. One would hope, however, that these would be checked before hitting send. However, knowing how people don't bother checking their text messages before sending... $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Aug 25 '21 at 18:02

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