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ADS-B Flight TrackingFrequently Asked Questions

ads-b overview | statistics | coverage map | FAQs | FlightFeeder ads-b receiver | build your own ADS-B receiver | PiAware for dump1090 | discussion forums


Being a Feeder

How do the statistics work? (Back to top)

Every 15 minutes, FlightAware analyzes the ADS-B data received by different feeders and provides contribution statistics using a variety of different metrics.

What are the benefits to me of feeding data to FlightAware? (Back to top)

Users sending ADS-B data to FlightAware will see live (non-delayed) data, see their data highlighted on FlightAware tracklogs, see additional information on ADS-B from elsewhere, receive custom statistics and more information on ADS-B sites around the world. As a thank you for your contribution, FlightAware offers a free Enterprise Account (USD$89.95/mo value) to users who share their data with us.

If you have ADS-B data or are interested in receiving it, FlightAware is the best partner for sharing your data with the world and being recognized for your contribution. FlightAware will aggregate your positions with dozens of available sources to share with millions of users.

What are the benefits to everyone of feeding data to FlightAware? (Back to top)

Millions of people around the world use FlightAware and your contribution improves the experience of individuals tracking flights in your corner of the world.

Where do I see data that I submitted on FlightAware.com? (Back to top)

Your data will be incorporated across the free FlightAware.com web site and mobile apps. To see specific positions from your receiver, click"(graph) on a given flight for a breakdown of each position and the source. Positions from your receiver will be in bold and with your username next to them (the username is currently only visible to you).

To find a flight, either type in an identifier of a flight you know is in the vicinity, or look up an airport nearby to find flights in the vicinity.

What if my PlanePlotter receiver code changes? (Back to top)

Once you have your new code, you can simply register the new code with FlightAware.. Within an hour, FlightAware combine the statistics from both of your receiver codes on the user ranking. The site (receiver) stats will automatically reflect the change over time.

Does my name have to appear on the ADS-B statistics page? (Back to top)

No. The ADS-B statistics pages will honor your account setting. You can edit your name display settings on the account management page to display your username or your full name. Alternately, if you don't register your receiver, no name will be displayed.

What if my IP address changes? (Back to top)

If you are using PlanePlotter, FlightFeeder, or PiAware then it does not matter if your IP address changes. We will handle the new address automatically.

However, if you are using the SBS-3 then you will need to register the new IP address with FlightAware. Within an hour, FlightAware combine the statistics from all of your IP addresses on the user ranking. The site (receiver) stats will automatically reflect the change over time.

Why do my statistics totals sometimes decrease? (Back to top)

Our ADS-B Statistics leaderboard pages show the total number of aircraft and positions that we have received for the last 30 days only.

Data older than 30 days is stored but just not included on leaderboards in order to emphasize the importance of ongoing data feeding and make it easier for new users to be represented.

Since we internally store statistics data on a 24-hour time period, the 31st day of data will be wholly subtracted from your 30 days' total starting at 00:00 UTC causing a decrease in the total. However, as the UTC day progresses and you continue to submit data, that total will gradually increase until 00:00 UTC of the next day and the new 31st day of data is subtracted.

Data

Why are some flights blocked? (Back to top)

FlightAware is subject to a number of government laws and regulations surrounding the distribution of flight data. In many cases, sensitive (e.g., military) flights are not available for tracking as well as private aircraft whose owners have opted out of public flight tracking.

FlightAware users and customers who share data with FlightAware may be able to track these flights on their own equipment, independent of FlightAware.

You can read more about blocked tail numbers.

Some flights that I'm feeding are not visible (Back to top)

FlightAware currently only provides tracking for flights with a flight plan submitted by one of our ANSP partners or a flight operated as part of an airline's schedule. This means that positions received by some aircraft are not currently visible on FlightAware.

We have added capabilities to track flights that we don't have flightplans for. These capabilities will be seeing wider release in the later part of 2014.

How does FlightAware prioritize overlapping ADS-B data? (Back to top)

When FlightAware is receiving overlapping data from multiple sources, FlightAware's feed interpreter will choose the position from the most reliable available source that also allows positions to be evenly spaced in time.

Does FlightAware do multilateration (MLAT)? (Back to top)

FlightAware currently tracks non-ADS-B aircraft via multilateration (MLAT) if the aircraft is in the proximity of several FlightAware ADS-B Appliances (Gen5 or later). Currently, this is only available in Houston and London, but coverage is increasing quickly, although FlightAware already has RADAR coverage for non-ADS-B aircraft in many countries.

FlightAware does not currently support MLAT of data provided by customer equipment.

FlightFeeder

How can I get a FlightFeeder? (Back to top)

FlightFeeders are provided for free to areas without current FlightAware ADS-B coverage and are provided at-cost to users already in a coverage area.

Simply request a FlightFeeder to get started.

Within a couple weeks, FlightAware will reply with an estimated shipping date and/or ordering information depending on existing coverage in your aarea.

Is FlightFeeder compatible with other software programs? (Back to top)

FlightFeeder is compatible with virtually all existing ADS-B software packages like PlanePlotter and BaseStation. Users can connect to their FlightFeeder over their LAN to receive all data. Users can also choose to view flight data on the FlightAware.com web site.

Can I access a streaming ADS-B data feed from FlightFeeder? (Back to top)

Yes, FlightFeeder supports TCP connections to 30002 for AVR/RAW format and 30003 for Basestation format. Additionally, FlightFeeder supports port 10001 for FlightAware's ADS-B format.

How much power does FlightFeeder use? (Back to top)

FlightAware uses 1A @ 5V, less power than a night light.

How much Internet bandwidth does FlightFeeder use? (Back to top)

FlightFeeder bandwidth depends on how dense the airspace is. High volume installations will see <10Kbps at peak. Accordingly, broadband Internet is not required.

Can I share data from FlightFeeder with other sites? (Back to top)

Sure! FlightAware encourages the sharing of all available ADS-B data for maximum collaboration and sharing within the community.

Does FlightFeeder support Multilateration (MLAT)? (Back to top)

Not currently.

What is the blue LED? (Back to top)

During Boot-up the receiver will turn on the blue LED if the antenna is connected. This indicates that the receiver is powered and receiving the transponder data.

Once the system is booted (after 1 minute) the blue light should turn off. This indicates that the transponder data is being processed.

If the blue light never turns on then the receiver is not working or the antenna is not picking up any transponder data.

General

What is ADS-B? (Back to top)

ADS-B stands for Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast. It is a cooperative surveillance technology for tracking aircraft. The aircraft determines its own position via GNSS and periodically broadcasts this via a radio frequency.

For more information on ADS-B, consult WIkipedia.

What is Mode S? (Back to top)

Mode S, or mode select, a data packet protocol used by transponders on board aircraft. It can be used to augment air traffic control transponder positioning equipment.

Why isn't there coverage in my area? (Back to top)

FlightAware only has coverage where we have installed a receiver or a user is feeding their data to FlightAware. If there is no coverage, you should read about adding coverage.

Keep in mind that the coverage map only shows ADS-B coverage; FlightAware has many different data sources worldwide that may use non-ADS-B tracking and provide flight tracking coverage.

How large is the coverage area for an ADS-B site? (Back to top)

The coverage is line-of-sight between the antenna and the airplane. That means that coverage at higher altitude is much greater than at lower altitude.

The distance of coverage varies based on the installation. FlightAware's experience is that it ranges from 100mi / 160km for a small antenna next to a window and can be up to 300mi / 480km for a large antenna on a mast.

Why is the airport for my feeder wrong? (Back to top)

Some of the feeders that we support do not transmit the location of the feeder itself so FlightAware attempts to estimate the latitude/longitude based on the average positions of the aircraft being detected. From that estimated location, we pick the nearest airport and display that as the location of the receiver. Since a receiver can receive aircraft positions from an area that is up to hundreds of miles wide, this might pick another nearby airport that is not quite the closest one to you. However, this has no impact on the data and does not affect the accuracy of flight tracking in any way.

Setting Up Feeding

How can I feed data to FlightAware? (Back to top)

It's easy. Simply visit the FlightAware ADS-B Overview page and select your device/software platform.

If you don't currently process ADS-B, read about the hardware options from FlightAware.

What hardware is supported? (Back to top)

In addition to the FlightAware ADS-B appliance (FlightFeeder), the following devices are actively supported:

Raspberry Pi with RTL-SDR dongle
Mode-S Beast
Kinetic SBS-1
Kinetic SBS-3
AirNav Systems RadarBox
RxControl Mode-S receiver
PlaneGadget Radar
miniADSB
microADSB


If you have other hardware, please contact us to discuss.

How do I register my receiver? (Back to top)

First, you must be a (free) member of FlightAware. Registration takes about two minutes.

Then, enter your receiver identifier or IP address on the FlightAware ADS-B Registration page and within 15 minutes, your receiver will show up on the statistics and coverage pages.

What do I do after I've started sending live data? (Back to top)

You can now register your receiver with FlightAware and within 15 minutes, your receiver will show up on the statistics and coverage pages.

How can I improve the reception and amount of data being received by my ADS-B receiver? (Back to top)

There are a number of ways (ranging from easy to more complex) to dramatically improve the range of your receiver. Following these steps could increase your range from 100mi / 160km up to 300mi / 480km.

Ideas:


  • Ensure that your antenna wiring run is as short as possible and that your connectors are screwed in tightly.

  • Move the antenna away from metal objects, other antennas, or sources of RF interference such as computers, microwaves, and fluorescent lights.

  • If your antenna is inside, consider moving it outside and/or on top of your building/structure. The higher the installation, the better.

  • Consider purchasing a higher quality antenna. We recommend the BS1105 Indoor/Outdoor ADS-B Antenna, which is available for $125.

  • Use as few coax cable connectors/adapters as practical since each connector reduces the signal strength.

  • The cable run from the antenna to the receiver should be 15 m or less of high quality 50 ohm coax (Ecoflex 10, Ecoflex 15, Westflex W103, H100, LDF250, LDF450, or LMR600 are recommended)

How do I get a free PlanePlotter license? (Back to top)

Where are new sites needed? (Back to top)

What Planeplotter settings do I need to connect to a FlightFeeder? (Back to top)

In Options -> input/output settings
set the checkbox for Mode-S/ADS-B and either
Beast receiver TCP
OR
RTL > RPi+Dump1090 (they use the same format)

Open up the dialog box in
Options -> Mode-S receiver -> Beast Or dump1090
set the IP port to the FlightFeeder IP and port 30005
(ie IP:30005)

start plane plotter