What's up with China Eastern flight 5652?


#1

Now, I’m relatively new to Flight Aware and use it only out of curiosity and general aviation geekery, not in a professional capacity. But I’m fairly flight savvy and geographically inclined.
So I’m really curious about a flight I happened across that is supposedly airborne right now (0839 Zulu) 2339 local time in Alaska, over the Bering Sea.
It is listed as CES5652, supposedly an A320 bound from Langley Regional Airport in the Vancouver BC metro area, to Shanghai Pu Dong. It’s listed as a distance of 5,632 miles, well beyond what I understand to be the max range of an A320, even flying with no passengers. Even less believable is the posted airspeed of 1,872 kts! I’m thinking someone had entered the flight plan incorrectly on Flight Aware. However, following the position of the flight, it’s obvious that it’s moving very fast, as I originally noticed it over Dillingham AK near Bristol Bay, and now 15 minutes later it is shown as passing to the north of Attu Island and approaching Kamchatka!

This doesn’t jive with any known commercial aircraft and would have to be a military aircraft. I know the SR-71 has long been decommissioned, and obviously even if one were still flying I’m assuming it’s location sure as hell wouldn’t show up on Flight Aware. So clearly some data was entered incorrectly. Why would China Eastern have an A320 on that route. I thought obviously someone entered A320 meaning to enter A340 or A330. But why would the airspeed be shown as 1,872 kts?

Can anyone comment on this anomaly? Thank you much!


#2

All I can surmise is that whoever entered the flight plan for this flight entered the wrong arrival time and the wrong aircraft type, and the tracker is responding only to the resultant misinformation about the actual location of the flight. Does Flight aware show the position of the aircraft by estimating the location based on speed and filed flight distance? I’m assuming flight aware gets its data from operations centers of various airlines, which track their own aircraft. In any case, the data shown for this flight is clearly a calculated estimate not real time GPS data. There’s no way any of the information shown for this flight is correct. Even if CES had resurrected the Concorde the data would be all wrong!


#3

YNJ is the code for Yanji, China. It is also the code for Langely, BC. Because the flight plan was filed with the 3 letter code FlightAware will try to match it up by prefixing the code with a K. Because there’s no airport in the USA that has the code YNJ it goes next to Canada (“C”) to see if there’s a match. There was so FlightAware shows the flight as operating from Langely.

Yanji’s 4 letter code is ZYYJ.


#4

Great analysis on this issue. I’ve opened a high priority internal bug to get this issue resolved quickly.


#5

Not sure if you were joking.
It sounds like part of the problem is that data is submitted to FA using 3-char rather than 4-char code, which is somewhat beyond the control of FA. I suppose you could have a ‘consider the source’ lookup table for incoming data which could try to expand the 3-char to the appropriate 4-char code. That might reduce but not eliminate the Garbage In component.

It could work somewhat akin the the old IBM 3838 jargon interperter…