Watch Air Traffic Live On the Internet

Now that UK airspace has re-opened, an interesting website to visit – when you have a free moment – is one which allows you to watch European air traffic live on the Internet.

FlightRadar displays a map (generated by Google Maps), with yellow plane-shaped icons moving on the screen – which will update at either 40, 20 or 10 second intervals, depending on your settings.

You can click onto one of the icons to see the details – such as callsign (the plane’s unique registration number), flight number, aircraft model, airline, its exact location (longitude & latitude), altitude, speed, departure airport and destination airport.

Some of the details are available all the time – callsign/model/airline/altitude/speed etc. Some are only available when there’s a commercial flight operating – flight no and airport details. I would assume that this may be perhaps the aircraft is moving but not flying passengers (so therefor won’t be given a flight number in the same way).

The site works by using ADS-B technology (Automatic Dependent Surveilence-Broadcast). Individuals with ADS-B recievers connect them to the site’s network.

Only aircraft within the coverage area of one of the 100 recievers are displayed on the site. The recievers are owned and maintained by enthusiasts – since there are no laws preventing the broadcasts from being recieved and used in public.

This equals approx. 60% of passenger planes – including all AirBus models, plus Boeing 737s, 747s, 757s, 777s and 787s (there are other aircraft types but I won’t write the whole list).

As I write this (its 1808), the BA103 from London Heathrow (LHR) to Calgary Airport (YYC) in Canada is almost directly overhead. At the moment its at a height of 17275ft and travelling at 434mph.

Only 2 minutes ago it was over Wantage, travelling at 12975ft at 410mph – so its still climbing even miles away from Heathrow!

So… a reminder that is a useful website to visit, if you’re bored and/or like useless information.

And if you’re interested, its now 1813 and in the time its taken me to finish writing this post, the aircraft I was following earlier is 24175ft above Coleford, travelling at 473mph.

Fred Hart

Stock Controller and Radio Presenter/Producer

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