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A Beginner’s Guide To Flight Tracking Software

Modern aviation is a demanding, time-critical enterprise that requires an intricate co-ordination of many people and equipment. The vast amount of information involved in flight operations renders it an almost impossible task to keep up with everything manually. Flight tracking software is often used by airlines and airports for managing the flight data of their fleet as well as for conducting complex analyses which can be useful for airport planning, or determining aircraft scheduling or staffing requirements.

Flight tracking software or Flight watch is also a very useful tool for hobbyists and private pilots who want to keep track of their own flights. Some software packages are specifically designed for use by such non-commercial groups. Commercial packages will usually offer additional features, such as route optimization, weather information and planning tools. Most flight tracking software comes with built-in databases which contain detailed information about individual airports around the world, including aircraft servicing facilities and runway characteristics. Accurate data can be extremely useful in flight planning or route optimization.

First, Some Terminology:

  1. Call Sign:

The call sign is the three-letter code that identifies the aircraft. It is usually short and easy to pronounce, so that it can be easily transmitted by voice over radio or telephone. Sometimes the call sign is made up of the last name of the pilot or owner of a particular aircraft. Other times it is derived from identifying features, such as a location, sponsor or other characteristic of an aircraft.

  1. Registration:

The registration is the registration number of the aircraft. It is a string of letters and digits that uniquely identifies an aircraft in a particular country. If a single aircraft has multiple owners, it can have different registrations in different countries. In some cases, organizations or companies will register an aircraft under their name to ensure that the aircraft will be easily recognizable whenever it is involved in a radio or telephone conversation.

  1. Manufacturer Serial Number (MSN):

The MSN is a unique identifier given to an aircraft when it is being manufactured. The MSN uniquely identifies each specific aircraft, as opposed to the registration number which only identifies a specific type of aircraft. The MSN does not change even if an aircraft has multiple owners throughout its life. Aircraft owners can choose whether or not they want to display their MSNs on the exterior of their aircraft using special decals.

  1. ADS-B:

The Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) is a modern avionics system that aims to make air traffic control procedures more efficient. It is a network of ground stations and satellites that allow aircraft to transmit their positions once every second. This greatly reduces the amount of time it takes for a ground station to detect an aircraft, as well as reducing pilot workload by eliminating the need for manually updating position reports. ADS-B is slowly becoming the primary surveillance method.

What is Flight Tracking Websites?

Flight tracking websites are websites that provide flight data related to a particular aircraft, such as the aircraft’s last known position. Flight tracking websites are designed to help pilots and other aviation enthusiasts keep track of their aircraft. They save time and effort, as well as mitigate the risk of losing aircraft to a crash, because the data is directly entered into the website. While flight tracking websites can be useful, they usually only provide more information than what a pilot needs. For example, many websites provide real-time weather information which is not useful to a pilot.

Flight tracking website showing ADS-B data for an aircraft

In order to receive this data, the aircraft needs a working subscription to the particular service. All of these subscriptions have a limited range of coverage, and different websites offer different types of flight tracking services. It is generally easier to use flight tracking websites if you are on the ground and watching your aircraft flying over a particular area, because then it is possible to compare the ADS-B data with what you’re seeing visually.

Flight tracking websites generally provide two-way communication between the aircraft and the website, in order to retrieve flight data from the aircraft. This ensures that the data is accurate, because if you are not communicating with your aircraft, it will not be able to tell you about any changes that may have occurred. As a result, many websites allow someone to monitor their aircraft’s position and performance automatically over time.


Flight tracking software is very useful for pilots. It can be used for managing the maintenance and scheduling of an aircraft as well as planning routes. Flight tracking websites are useful for aviation enthusiasts to track their aircraft, but they usually only provide more information that a pilot needs to know. ADS-B data is also a useful tool, but some aircraft owners may find it extremely expensive. In order to receive these benefits, it is important to have an ADS-B subscription which covers your area of operation and gives you security over your aircraft’s whereabouts.



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