This is a sibling post to my thoughts during my analysis of flight N48DL, the purpose of this post is to share some of my analysis, as well as the data I produced. I am not involved in any official capacity to research the cause of the crash of flight N48DL on April 19th, 2012.
Here is a graphic showing the original flight plan and the actual path of the flight.
This is another view of the flight path which shows the westward descending and eastward ascending flight pattern.
Below is an embedded Google Map of some of the data, as well as more graphics produced using Google Earth. The full dataset I worked with to produce these images is available at the bottom of this post.
Some of the software the FAA uses to model flights several hours into the future requires the latest available intention of each flight. The intented path of the flight is filed as a flight plan. The original filed flight plan will usually be returned somewhat altered to avoid weather, restricted zones, and other aircraft flight paths. Over the course of a flight the flight plan may be amended with updated information which allows the traffic flow programs to recompute and predict potential issues in the air space several hours in advance. The next graphic shows the final amended flight plan for N48DL, which takes into account much of the behavior of the flight so as to model other flights around it.
This is another horizon-oriented view of the flight path which shows the loops.
The information contained in this KML file is in the public domain and anyone may reproduce my efforts provided they go through the steps of acquiring the flight information. I have worked to translate the original flight plan, last amendment to the flight plan, and position information into a format which can be viewed in Google Earth and Google Maps.
To use the file in Google Earth you may either download it by right-clicking on the link above and saving the file locally, or by referencing it as a URL by copying the link location. To use it in Google Maps paste the link location into the search field, or click this link where I've done that work already; it may be helpful to unclick the checkbox next to the folder name "Flight points of N48DL" as these provide time and altitude information in a way that can clutter the map. Alternatively, you may use this link which is to a version of the data omitting the individual flight path data points with time and altitude information.