Inside a website that tracks every plane in the sky... How does it work?

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 It wasn't immediately clear what the plane's final destination would be, and that sparked online conversations as the plane slowly veered north toward the island.

As a result, Pelosi's flight was the most tracked ever on FlightRadar24, with 2.92 million people following at least part of the 7-hour flight.

FlightRadar24 is part of a suite of popular flight-tracking services such as FlightAware and Plane Finder.

The FlightRadar24 website was set up in Sweden in 2006 "completely by accident," according to FlightRadar24's director of communications, Ian Pechenek, as a way to drive traffic toward a special flight price comparison service.

Inside a website that tracks every plane in the sky... How does it work?

The site first gained global recognition in 2010 when the eruption of an Icelandic volcano grounded thousands of flights and attracted 4 million visitors.

growing interest

Prior to Pelosi's trip, the record for the most tracked flight on Flightradar24 belonged to the return trip of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to Russia, where he was due to be imprisoned.

And 550,000 people followed the flight that took place in January of 2021, which led to breaking the previous record set in April of 2020, when about 200,000 users watched the Boeing 777 aircraft drawing the crescent and the stars of the national flag. The Turkish man in the sky of Ankara to celebrate the centenary of Turkey's sovereignty.

Before that, in September of 2017, thousands of people watched a Boeing 737 belonging to Delta Airlines fly directly toward Hurricane Irma to land in Puerto Rico.

Beyond major events, the number of people tracking flights is on the rise. “We see a lot of people using the site to track a loved one, track their flights, or find the next flight they will be on later in the day,” Pechenek explained. That day to make sure the plane arrived.”

How to harvest data

Flightradar24 has receivers all over the world.
,  Courtesy Flightradar24 To collect data, Flightradar has built its own network of ADS-B receivers, which it said is now the largest in the world with about 34,000 units, and also covers remote areas such as Antarctica.

About a quarter of the receivers are built by Flightradar24 itself, but the majority are assembled by aviation enthusiasts who voluntarily provide data.

And since it's relatively cheap to build a receiver, with items costing about $100, many people have signed up since Flightradar24 began opening its network to the public in 2009.

The large array of receivers is essential to tracking flights globally, but there is a clear problem in the oceans, where the network becomes scattered. So how do you get coverage over open water?

This is done by "looking for islands wherever possible, and making sure there are receivers there," Pechenek said.

“But more recently, we have turned to satellite-based ADS-B receivers so we can better track aircraft over the ocean,” Bechenek added. However, the dominant data source is still our terrestrial network.”

Not every aircraft has data available, depending on the type of transceivers used.

Aircraft owners, or operators as well, can decide to prevent their data from being publicly displayed, which is common for military, government, or private aircraft.

Source: CNN 

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