Flight Tracking | Track Flights Online | Live!
There are many reasons for wanting to track a flight. Most certainly use this option to be able to pick up their loved ones from the airport on time. Before the internet age and flight trackers, which are now accessible to everyone, this was not easily possible. Back then, relatives may have had to wait for hours at the airport, because the flight was delayed. But there are other reasons to use a flight tracker.
For example, some people are simply interested in what the current air traffic looks like. So-called plane spotters even go hunting for the perfect photo of airplanes. In order to see where the sought-after aircraft is about to land, everything can be kept in view with the help of a flight tracker. In the following, we will explain how flight trackers work and introduce the most popular ones.
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What actually is flight tracking?
If you’re interested in the topic of aviation and aerospace, there’s no way you can avoid the subject of flight trackers. Since this hobby is becoming increasingly popular, the developers of corresponding software are also enjoying steadily growing numbers of users. Aircraft can be tracked with the help of a flight tracker. However, flight trackers not only offer airplane fans the possibility to observe their favourite planes. If you have booked a non-stop or long-haul flight, or if you are bored on the plane, you may also want to track your flight online.
Probably the most important reason to use a flight tracker is to pick up friends or family members. After all, with the internet, you can check from the comfort of your home whether the plane will arrive on schedule. With Flightradar24 and FlightAware, there are two large providers whose number of users is constantly growing. Let’s take a look at how they work.
There was a media event that caused the hype surrounding flight trackers to skyrocket. In 2010, the volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted in Iceland. This natural spectacle had a severe impact on global air traffic. For example, the gigantic ash cloud that was created caused many flights to be cancelled due to safety concerns. So, in many cases, anyone who wanted to pick up another person at the airport could save the trip.
To find out if a flight was cancelled or not, many used flight trackers. On the portals, one could check whether and when a landing was to be expected. If you did not see the flight number in the overview, you could assume that the flight had been cancelled. But the growing number of users is not solely due to people wanting to plan their trip to the airport
On top of that, airplane enthusiasts found it exciting to see the impact of the volcanic eruption on parameters such as airspeed, altitude, and route of the planes. This data can also be viewed on a flight tracker. The portals not only offer current data. Flights in the past can also be viewed here. Especially after plane crashes, it is not uncommon for the press and investigators to ask flight trackers for information.
One of the most popular and well-known flight trackers is undoubtedly Flightradar24. This provider was launched in 2006 and was more of a small gimmick in the beginning, and later became a full-service. Thus, a Swedish portal for flight comparisons developed the flight tracker as a small gimmick. Over time, the demand for the service grew and the owners of the website opened their flight tracker to the masses as well.
The importance Flightradar24 has in the field of flight trackers becomes clear when looking at the statistics. Thus, the portal offers data on 150,000 flights every day, attracting a million daily users to the website. In addition to free use, the provider also offers paid models. With these, users benefit from features such as historical flight data. The provider’s matching app is particularly practical. This means you can always keep an eye on air traffic, even when you’re on the move.
Another important provider is FlightAware. This company has been offering its service even longer than Flightradar24. The website was launched in 2005. Thus, FlightAware is the pioneer in the field of flight trackers. The provider is based in the USA (New York and Houston) and also scores with extensive flight data. It collects data from more than 125 countries on a daily basis. As with Flightradar24, you can also choose whether you want to benefit from additional functions for an extra fee. Once again, the focus is on additional statistics. By the way, FlightAware can also be used on a smartphone via a corresponding app.
But how does flight tracking actually work? Two different methods can be used to determine flight data. These are the multilateration method (MLAT) and the automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B). MLAT relies on GPS data. A satellite measures the distance between the aircraft and three different receivers. Data such as the reduction in the distance between the aircraft and the receiver can then be used to determine parameters such as speed.
The ADS-B method is somewhat simpler. The two providers Flightradar24 and FlightAware use this method. They make use of an ADS-B transponder, which is now on board many aircraft. According to estimates, more than two-thirds of all aircraft worldwide for commercial use now have the corresponding technical equipment. Via the transponder, the aircraft then sends data such as flight number, aircraft type, and speed to a receiver.
Incidentally, you can support the two major providers in their work. To do this, you can put a receiver for the ADS-B signal in your garden yourself. To get a free mounting kit, you have to apply to the providers. If you live in a place where no suitable antenna has been placed yet, the chances are certainly good. The ADS-B signal can only be used to transmit data over a maximum distance of 400 km.
Is it possible to track every flight worldwide on the map?
It is truly amazing how many flights can be tracked using commercial flight tracking. Since nowadays, every Airbus aircraft is equipped with an ADS-B ex works, the company’s data can all be viewed. The situation is different at Boeing, however. Here, there are still some models that do not have a corresponding transponder. Consequently, they cannot send any data themselves, and only the MLAT system remains to track an aircraft. However, since most providers rely on ADS-B, this is rather unlikely.
In the meantime, however, it has become mandatory for safety reasons that an aircraft used commercially has an ADS-B transmitter. Accordingly, Boeing models that are used as commercial aircraft can also be conveniently tracked. But what about non-commercial flights? Can a military aircraft, for example, or even important aircraft such as the U.S. President’s Air Force One be tracked? The answer is no. In principle, these aircraft also have an ADS-B transponder if they come from Airbus or represent a Boeing model. However, the transponder can also be switched off, which many non-civil aircraft take advantage of.
How to track airplanes live?
As flight tracking becomes more and more popular, the number of providers naturally increases steadily. But which flight-tracking app is the best? It’s easy to lose track here. We have compiled a list of websites and apps for live flight tracking.
Let’s start with the pioneer in flight tracking. On FlightAware, you can not only track planes live. On top of that, you can get interesting information about each flight. To track a flight online, all they have to do is enter the matching flight number or route. The service also offers a matching app that is particularly strong in terms of its overview feature and user-friendliness.
Another provider in the field of flight tracking is Planefinder. Here, you may well be wide-eyed when you first get to see how many planes are currently circling above you. Apart from that, you can of course also search for individual flights.
Probably the best known provider in the field of real-time flight tracking is Flightradar24.com. However, this provider not only shows you a way to track live airplanes. On top of that, the company offers what we consider to be the best flight-tracking app.
Which flight tracker is free?
As you can see, flight trackers are extremely practical. With the help of these practical digital helpers, you can not only find out exciting information about flights. On top of that, the providers actively help ensure that you don’t pick up your loved ones late at the airport. But are they worth the money? Is Flightradar24 free of charge? What about the other providers? Do they offer live flight tracking for free? None of this should matter, at least if you don’t care about additional features beyond simple tracking. After all, many providers offer flight tracking for free. We have compiled a list of providers that offer flight tracking for free.
|Provider||free of charge||App available?|
|FlightAware||– Flight Information|
– Flight Status
– Airport Activities
– Weather Statistics
– Flight Planning
– Global Statistics
– Online Community
– Flight Position
|Flightradar24||– Flight Information|
– Flight Status
– 3d View
– Flight Position
|Flight Tracker||– Flight Tracking|
– Flight Details
– Flight Routes
– Aircraft Specification
FlightAware flight tracker: The top dog
As a pioneer in the field of flight trackers, FlightAware scores with its extensive information. And despite the latter, it never gets confusing. There is a practical tracker which tells you the aircraft’s position in real-time. On top of that, the app and the online portal alert you to upcoming delays. The clear map reveals which flight activities are currently taking place above you. Particularly exciting is the alarm function, which alerts you to an upcoming delay if necessary. However, the free use also comes at a price. You have to put up with lots of advertising
Flightradar24: An information bomb
FlightAware may already score with an astonishing scope, but Flightradar still outstrips its U.S. competitors. So it’s no surprise that the Swedes run the most popular flight tracking app on the market with their app. Since Flightradar24 offers the most advanced reception technology of all providers, you also get a lot of data here. You should not be deceived by the simple design. The app is filled to the brim with a lot of functions.
A good overview ensures that you can enjoy a high level of user comfort as well. A real highlight is the AR (Augmented reality) features that the application offers you. For example, you can hold your smartphone up to the sky and get a display of the planes currently in the air. At the same time, Flightradar24 always offers reliable data – even for past flights. This is illustrated by a sad example. During the catastrophic Germanwings crash in 2015, when an Airbus aircraft crashed in the Alps, investigators used the portal for important data collection. Unfortunately, you have to endure advertising here as well. In view of the many free features, however, this is not too bad. Apart from these major providers, there are also many other flight trackers that help you track a flight in real-time. However, we warmly recommend that you choose one of the providers we have presented. After all, they provide the most reliable data thanks to their sophisticated technology.
How can Flightright help you?
Your suitcase is packed, and your smartphone is already in flight mode, but then your flight is delayed or even canceled, or you have been removed from the passenger list (denied boarding)?
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According to the EU Passenger Rights Regulation, passengers are entitled to compensation in the event of a delay, cancellation, overbooking, or missed connection. You can claim up to 600 euros of compensation per person (minus commission fee). This compensation is independent of the ticket price. Flightright enforces your right for you. If necessary also in court.
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