Real-time Flight Status And Radar For All US/Canada Flights

FlightAwareFor those who receive (and send) flight data from ADS-B capable devices such as the RTL-SDR dongles or have Apps for their tablets and phones, FlightAware announced on Wednesday this change to their service:

Hi from FlightAware,

After months of development, we released a large upgrade to our back-end flight tracking engine on Tuesday. Not only did the upgrade include dozens of bug fixes and flight tracking improvements, but we added a massive enhancement for US and Canadian flight tracking — the flight status and radar data is now live with no more five minute delay! Previously, the US/Canada data feed contained a five minute delay in addition to our ~30 second processing time, but now all data is less than a minute delayed from real time. In addition to the general improvement, this yields a lot of additional benefits:

  • More seamless transition between RADAR, ADS-B, and MLAT positions
  • Flights will no longer transition from “Arriving soon” to “Arrived 5 minutes ago”
  • Fewer estimated positions due to delayed RADAR data

Now that the radar data in the US and Canada is real-time, we’ll soon be enabling public MLAT data in the US, which is real-time just like our ADS-B data.

This is a major upgrade in data for folks in North America, and it will make using programs like PlanePlotter even more useful!

For those who might be interested in building their own dedicated ADS-B receiver, information may be found here. Of course FlightAware may be used as an online flight checking service just for tracking the progress of a given flight, which is in itself a lot of fun!

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

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2 thoughts on “Real-time Flight Status And Radar For All US/Canada Flights

  1. Thomas

    Robert: I have been so tempted to set up an ADS-B and ACARS receiver. I have too many projects going on right right now, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to implement something late summer. This is great news from FlightAware!

    1. Robert Gulley Post author

      When you get around to it, setup really doesn’t take long if using a dongle and the RTL-1090 software – it can run in the background continuously and feed someone like flightaware or fr24feed.exe (the one I use), and just pull it up as desired for a random check. Of course it can get more involved over time with feeding TCP/IP data to Planeplotter and other sources. But it can be pretty basic to start. The RTL-SDR site has all the setup info you would need for the dongle and integrating with RTL-1090 or other software.


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