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Why Travelers Should Make Use of Flight Radars

Travelling during the holiday season is largely not a refreshing experience due to packed crowds and delayed flights. It particularly becomes an ordeal for flyers who have friends or family in far-flung places, who are frequent travellers or who just have a love for aviation.

Whether it is knowing if a flight has been delayed, trying to figure out the time to get to the airport to receive a loved one, or calculating landing times across many time zones, it is not easy to decipher the minefield of information available.

However, fear not because the hyperactive growth of technology is making that ordeal comparatively less stressful, thanks to handy software applications called flight radars. These technological pieces are easily downloadable on a tablet or smartphone to track your flight as well as to promptly alert you on delays.

Moreover, these applications will also allow you to identify your location 40k feet above ground level or even offer a rundown of the best-reviewed places to eat during your seven-hour layover.

Flight Radar Apps

Mobile phone cell apps RF

Previously, there were web portals to track flights, but with the widespread availability of smartphones life has become easier for experienced airline passengers.

The majority of big carriers now also offer their own customised apps and there are many services that can precisely tell you where a flight is at any given moment in time. Furthermore, research conducted at DePaul University in 2015, revealed that an increasing number of flyers (more than 35.3%) are utilising portable devices in flight.

These flight radar apps ingest data from more than hundred sources in addition to ADS-B. Also, it includes data from the airlines’ operations systems from aeroplane cockpits over the data link and from the air traffic coordination systems in more than 50 countries.


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At the forefront of flight tracking and radar technology is ADS-B which relies partially on sensors operated by the government and commercial entities. Window and rooftop receivers are run by hundreds of thousands of flight tracking aficionados worldwide. You can consider them bird watchers of the aviation age.

ADS-B tracking differs from radar in that it does not depend on the sprung-back radio waves from immovable earthbound antennas to convey air traffic control where an object is up in the sky. As an alternative, it functions like the phone GPS enabling the aircraft to establish its own position from an overhead satellite.

The aircraft then communicates its location and identification number alongside other ADS-B records from its ADS-B transponder. This can be picked up by anybody with an ADS-B receiver on the ground or in the air within the proximity of 200 miles.

It should be noted that aircraft operators and owners have the liberty of barring their tail numbers from public databases and military flights are characteristically concealed.


Laptop and phone

Air travel disasters make headlines because of their extreme rarity and the possibility of numerous fatalities. Although, statistically flying is still one of the safest ways to travel and that does not appear to be changing anytime soon.

However, notwithstanding the number of fatal aeroplane disasters, a curious phenomenon started emerging in 2014 in the way these accidents are reported. Any news footage about a missing or downed place from that year would show locations of many other planes in the sky, obtained from flight-tracking apps that were already popular among airlines, airports and aviation geeks.

More precisely, the first time the mainstream media used flight tracking and radar apps was after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was controversially shot down over Ukraine. The footage kept showing a European image in which the region looked like it was being hovered by yellow insects everywhere except Ukraine as planes were not entering the Ukrainian airspace virtually.

However, at the corner of that image many of the aviation nerds noticed a logo for a company called Flightradar24. Now, fast forward to 2017 and Flightradar24 is accepted as the best live flight tracker across the globe.

At a Consumer Level

At a consumer level, you can always play air traffic controller with flight radars which is entertaining and educational. At its fundamental level, you can examine real-time flight status information, schedules and actual departure, and arrival times which you can explore at who have flight radars on their site to use freely on any device.

The entertaining part comes with features such as the cockpit view which enables you to see virtually through the eyes of a pilot and an augmented reality view which detects the overhead flying planes when you point your phone’s camera to the sky.

The smashing aspect about FlightRadar24 is that it is free to use on any device and offers a fantastic opportunity to start tracking aeroplanes yourself!


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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.

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