How does Flight Aware get its data

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How does Flight Aware get its data

Postby Tinytall » Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:03 am

I'm curious if anyone has any insight about the Flight Aware website which allows you to track flights. You can also set it to notify you of flights for N-numbers that you ask it to notify you. Interestingly, I filed a flight plan from KASH to KHYA at 1800 local yesterday, and a return flight filed for 2130 local. I never left Nashua due to an unexpected delay, and Flight Aware never showed me leaving Nashua. However, I woke up this morning having found notification that I left KHYA at 23:21, arriving in KASH at 00:31 on July 11, 2012. I'll even provide the link:

I'm curious how my plane got to KHYA first off, and secondly, who was at the controls?! (I say this jokingly of course). What I'm seriously asking is how does Flight Aware get its data? Who provided them with a flight path, coordinates (given, it shows approximate) and a departure and arrival. My speed is shown at 0 kts, so I'm assuming that Flight Aware simply "assumed" I left and the approximate route (it looks like I went direct, and not along the filed flight plan)...

Has anyone else ever seen this? (Did you even know you could track these sorts of things?)

Thanks all, and happy flying!
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Re: How does Flight Aware get its data

Postby jackhodgson » Thu Jul 12, 2012 4:59 pm


Jeb and Dave can explain it with more authority, but this data is available from the Feds. Not sure if flightaware has to pay for it, but they can get it electronically, and use it to drive their system.

Not sure how your phantom flight got in there, but maybe someone filed a flight plan and got their N number wrong.

BTW, you can block your appearance in this system (at least I'm pretty sure they've made that possible again) by going somewhere online and opting out.

// Jack

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Re: How does Flight Aware get its data

Postby RigaRunner » Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:38 pm

I recently made a flight under IFR rules, and nearing our destination decided to divert to another airport. FlightAware showed the flight accurately, right up to the point of the diversion, and then it shows a replacement flight from origin to final destination. Check N97RJ for its July 7 flights.

Once in a while I get a phantom flight plan filed on my N number, but I assume that is because the FAA computers got it wrong, not FlightAware.

On the FlightAware site, they provide a pretty complete explanation of how they obtain and process the FAA data.

Of course, none of that explains your phantom flight.
A commercial pilot, IFR rated, who flies a Cirrus SR22 out of JYO.

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