Aircraft Tracking Tool For Home User
Do you know where almost every flight in the world is right now? Do you want to? Because if you do… there’s an app for that.
Flightradar24 is a flight tracking service that provides real-time information on thousands of aircraft around the world.
It can be used on line, or via an app on your iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) or Android device. It is also available for Window 8 and Mac OS computers. Flightradar24 is hugely popular; the website gets upwards of 25 million hits per month, and the apps have been downloaded over 5 million times. So how does it work?
Flightradar24 receives flight information primarily through technology called automatic dependent surveillance-broadcasts, or ADS-B. ADS-B works as follows:
- The aircraft gets its location from a GPS navigation source.
- The ADS-B transponder on the aircraft transmits a signal containing the location of the aircraft.
- One of Flightradar24’s receivers picks up the ADS-B signal, and feeds the data to Flightradar24.
- The data then appears on flightradar24.com and in Flightradar24 apps.
ADS-B is a relatively new technology; it is estimated that roughly 60% of all passenger aircraft around the world are equipped with ADS-B transponders. This is steadily increasing however, as it will become mandatory for all aircraft to have ADS-B transponders by 2020. Flightradar24 has a network of over 8000 ADS-B receivers around the world that receive data from aircraft with ADS-B transponders. The coverage from each receiver is limited to about 259-450 km in all directions, depending on the location. This makes it hard to get ADS-B coverage over oceans. On cruising altitude (above 30,000 feet), Flightradar24 covers 100% of Europe and almost 100% of the USA. There is also good ADS-B coverage in countries such as Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, South Africa, Russia, Middle East, Pakistan, India, China, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand.
In some regions Flightradar24 also calculates the positions of non-ADS-B equipped aircraft with the assistance of Multilateration (MLAT). By measuring the time it takes to receive the signal from aircraft with a ModeS-transponder, it’s possible to calculate the position of these aircraft – this is a method known as Time Difference of Arrival (TDOA). At least four FR24-receivers, receiving signals from the same aircraft, are needed for MLAT to work.
Flightradar24 also receives data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the USA. FAA data is delayed by roughly 5 minutes, due to FAA regulations. FAA data is based on radar data, and includes most scheduled and commercial air traffic in the US and Canada.
A simpler version of ADS-B, Flarm is used primarily by smaller aircraft (mostly gliders), and has a shorter range – between 20 and 100 km. Flarm receivers are often installed in smaller airports with a high volume of glider traffic.
Flightradar24 provides data on thousands and thousands of flights worldwide, allowing you to track flight paths in your area and around the world, or to follow a specific plane as it travels the globe. So, if you’re an aviation geek, or if you’re just interested in this new and exciting technology, go to www.flightradar24.com to download the app.