FlightRadar24 is the leading flight tracking service offered around the globe. As of 2019, it features over 9,000 receivers tracking well over 32,000 aircraft in 190 countries. FlightRadar24 operates by utilizing a technology called ADS-B, which revolves around aircraft broadcasting their location, altitude, and speed. This data is then intercepted by the 9,000 receivers world wide, where the data is then converted into usable data, which is plotted against a map in real time to provide visual updates on any commercial aircraft, worldwide.
FlightRadar24 is an easily accessible software, open to use by anyone who has access to a smartphone, computer, or tablet with an internet connection.
FlightRadar24 was started in 2006 as a small-scale hobby and passion project by two Swedish brothers who originally built the site to monitor flight data in Central and Northern Europe, before expanding it to relay global flight data. FlightRadar24 relies on over 9,000 ADS-B receivers that were often installed by volunteers in their homes or apartments all around the world. These volunteers, passionate about contributing to flight tracking, provide the backbone of received flight data that FlightRadar24 presents in real time.
FlightRadar24 receives broadcasts from ADS-B transponders on aircraft. ADS-B, which stands for Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast, is a type of transmission that broadcasts flight information directly from the aircraft to transponders, instead of relying on external forms of tracking such as radar. It is considered automatic because it is the onboard broadcast which creates the transmission; no external source is required. It broadcasts its location openly – a critical notion as it allows any ADS-B interpreting receiver to receive and interpret communications from this aircraft.
As ADS-B is an open broadcast, FlightRadar24 can rely on the data being broadcast directly from the planes themselves. In the years since 2006, FlightRadar24 has built an array of over 9,000 receivers that have been set up by a network of flight tracking volunteers. These FlightRadar24 receivers continuously update FlightRadar24 with changes to altitude, speed, location, and route of any commercial flight that broadcasts in ADS-B.
While there are more than 17,000 ADS-B receivers worldwide, FlightRadar24 owns 9,000 of them alone – far more than any other additional flight tracking software. This lion’s share of receivers allows FlightRadar24 to paint the most robust and accurate picture of flights tracked around the world. While FlightRadar24 says their best coverage exists in Europe and the United States (with 80 percent of European flights using ADS-B, and 60 percent of US flights using the same technology), their tracking is also able to provide robust coverage of Canada, the Middle East, Oceania, South America, and countless other locations.
FlightRadar24 is also not only confined to continental flights. ADS-B is able to broadcast up to 450km away from the aircraft, which, while robust, would not reach from the middle of a transatlantic flight to land. Since FlightRadar24 is not able to provide oceanic receivers to track intercontinental flights, it partners with GPS and other satellite receivers to pick up and relay ADS-B signals during oceanic flights – allowing for continuous coverage over land and sea.
FlightRadar24 relies on ADS-B technology because it is the most accurate technology available to track commercial flights. As a redundancy, FlightRadar24 additionally relies on MLAT and tracking information from the FAA. ADS-B, while robust and reliable, must rely on the aircraft transmitting the data and a receiver picking up this data. MLAT allows for older types of aircraft to transmit data to four receivers who then analyze the data and then measure the Time Difference of Arrival (TDOA) to determine the aircraft’s speed and location. It takes longer than ADS-B to determine speed and location (up to 30 seconds between updates), but is another way that FlightRadar24 is able to track flights that may not have the latest transponder technology.
Outside of ADS-B and MLAT, the traditional method of tracking is radar – typically provided from government or other public resources. Radar is different from ADS-B in that it relies on an external transmission – that is outside of the aircraft. In radar, a radar dish will send out a radio wave that is then scattered back to the radar receiver when it hits an object. The receivers can analyze these returned radio waves to determine the location and speed of the object.
Radar is typically only used for commercial flight tracking when ADS-B or MLAT is not available, but is a critical component of flight tracking, as it allows one to locate a flight that has ceased to broadcast its own location.
How does FlightRadar24 work?
FlightRadar24, as its name would suggest, also uses radar to track flights when ADS-B is not available. Radar, short for radio detecting and ranging, which was developed through the late 19th century before being refined in WWII, projects a radio wave outwards, which is then reflected back when it collides with an object in the air. Radar receivers then intercept this reflected radio wave, and then this data is interpreted to show the location of the pinged object. Through being pinged repeatedly by outgoing radio waves, radar can detect the motion of an object in flight.
In WWII, the British used radar to detect incoming Luftwaffe fighters with great accuracy, allowing British anti-aircraft guns to take down German planes far more effectively than the typical AA searchlights they typically deployed.
Radar was such a closely guarded state secret, that the British went to great lengths to hide why their anti-aircraft mission was so successful. They actually attributed their success to the diets of their gunners – heavy on carrots with that eye-boosting beta carotene. In case you were wondering, this is where the idea of eating carrots to help with your eyesight comes from: a military cover up of radar technology.
FlightRadar24 does track the majority of its flights through ADS-B technology, but the use of traditional radar cannot be discounted. Radar and ADS-B operate in almost opposite manners, with ADS-B being broadcast from the plane, and radar being sent and received from the ground. As a result, these two technologies create a nearly complete picture of all commercial flights in transit. This system of flight tracking redundancy functions as a safety net – allowing FlightRadar24 to show the course of a flight even if ADS-B or radar goes down.
What does FlightRadar24 offer?
FlightRadar24 is incredibly straightforward. Simply enter the flight number of the flight that you wish to track, and you will immediately be presented with the location, speed, altitude, and destination of your flight. Alternatively, you may look on the map and click on any flight that you are curious about to discover its unique data such as altitude, speed, and location. Clicking on the flight will additionally provide you with a photo of the unique aircraft, its aircraft type, its country of registration, kilometers traveled, and kilometers to go until it arrives at its destination.
When you access the map on FlightRadar24, you can see how the flights are being updated in real time, as the yellow airplanes representing real flights move relative to their location in the skies. You may search any city or airport to see, in real time, the air traffic above that location. This allows you to get a glimpse into any potential delays in arrivals and departures with regard to specific cities that a flight may be arriving to or departing from.
FlightRadar24 is easily accessible from your personal computer, tablet, or personal computer. With a robust mobile app, FlightRadar24 allows you to access all the benefits and features of high quality flight tracking through your smartphone – a highly convenient solution to flight tracking which allows you to track any flight on the go.
All you have to do is download the FlightRadar24 app, and you’ll be able to track any of the over 32,000 aircraft that FlightRadar24 tracks across the globe.
The apps, which are available on iOS and Android, allow you to:
See flights around the globe in real-time
Follow flights in a 3D view
Search for any flight you desire by call sign, route, airline, or flight number.
Get flight information such as flight delay, estimated time of arrival, estimated time of departure, speed, altitude, and actual time of departure
See actual photos of the aircraft
Discover nearby flights through the AR flight tracker by only pointing your phone toward the sky
Filter results to discover only flights pertinent to you
Search for and discover past flight data
Get a detailed look at the specific arrivals, departures, delays, and conditions of any airport – in addition to the aircraft you wish to track.
These robust features have gone a long way in makingFlightRadar24’s app the number one flight tracking app in over 130 countries!
Amazingly, this advanced app allows you to have a 3D view of the flight in voyage, as well as a visualized view of what the pilot sees in flight. FlightRadar24 also features a cutting edge AR view that gives you key identifying information about any flight simply by pointing your phone’s camera to a plane in flight. It’s truly the best flight tracker in the business.
Where does FlightRadar24 provide coverage?
FlightRadar24 features global coverage through its array of over 9,000 ADS-B receivers, radar, satellite, MLAT, and FLARM tracking technologies.
Having said that, FlightRadar24’s service is most complete in Europe and the United States. Europe has over 90% of its commercial flights outfitted with ADS-B technology, and the US has mandated that by 2020 all flights convert to broadcasting ADS-B, so these two locations have highly accurate and detailed coverage. FlightRadar24 also provides strong coverage in Canada, Oceania, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus – and is getting stronger all the time. Each week, FlightRadar24 sends out 30-50 ADS-B receivers to volunteers worldwide, allowing their network of data receivers and uploaders to grow at a healthy pace.
This means that the quality of your service from FlightRadar24 will only continue to grow as you use their product.
What does FlightRadar24 not track?
FlightRadar24 only tracks civilian, commercial aircraft. It does not provide any coverage for military aircraft, or aircraft for high-level government officials – such as the US Air Force One.
Who should use FlightRadar24?
FlightRadar24 is perfect for any person who wants to track a commercial flight – past or present!
People wanting to track their arriving or departing flight
Friends and family who want to track a loved one’s arrival
A person who wants to track her previous flight history
Flight tracking hobbyists who are passionate about high quality flight tracking.
If you have are racing to your 2:00pm flight, battling traffic on your way to the airport, you can simply and quickly put in your flight number to the FlightRadar24 app in order to see where your specific aircraft is at that moment in time. While your airline’s website will only provide you with “departed,” “on time,” or “delayed,” FlightRadar24 will allow you to see the position of your aircraft – a major plus!
If you’re at the airport, having gone through security, and deciding between sitting down for a bite or grabbing a quick sandwich before you board before the gate opens, you can simply type your flight number into FlightRadar24. Whoops, the flight is about to board! Get to the gate!
Pretend for a moment that you have a loved one coming to your home for New Years. His flight is set to land at 9:30pm. You look up his flight number – the airline says his flight is delayed. What a frustration! Even worse, you have no earthly idea where his flight is. You only know that it is delayed.
With FlightRadar24, all you need to do is input the flight number and you can see, in real-time, his flight’s movement over the map. This way, you can ensure that you are at the airport when his flight lands, ensuring the two of you get home in time to see that New Years Eve ball drop!
Still not convinced that FlightRadar24 is the best tracker in the business?
Imagine this scenario: you’re flying out of Seoul to Tokyo when you suddenly get a notification that your flight has been delayed seven hours. Why? Your flight had originated in Bangkok, where you can see that the weather is terrible at the moment – there’s a devastating monsoon that has grounded all flights for the next six hours.
Luckily, by using FlightRadar24, you can find out all this information in real-time – instead of being at the mercy of the minimal information provided by the airlines. Using FlightRadar24’s flight-tracking technology, you can quickly find a flight leaving from Seoul to Tokyo that originated from Shanghai – far from the downpours in Bangkok. With this knowledge in hand, you deftly snag a last minute ticket to Tokyo, allowing you to land in time for that impossible-to-reschedule reservation at that three-star Sushi restaurant. Nice going!
This is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve only covered the information you can access if you want to be an informed traveler! For enthusiasts or even pilots, the benefits of using FlightRadar24 are limitless.
FlightRadar24 has the cutting-edge ability to pull up and examine the flight pattern of historical flights. For an additional monthly subscription, FlightRadar24’s paid service allows you to see years’ worth of visualized flight data from any flight you choose. If you really want to get creative, you can build up a singular map that visually tracks every flight you’ve ever taken!
For the flight-tracking hobbyist, flight trackers allow you to visualize the route of commercial flights in real time, meaning that you can use a flight tracker as a powerful tool to locate or identify any plane in the air, and then discover where its final destination may be.
How can I track a flight using Flightradar24?
Using FlightRadar24, there are several different ways that you can track a flight.
When using a computer or an app, you can easily type in the flight number of your preferred flight to see in real-time where your flight is in the sky.
What other ways can I track a flight?
FlightRadar24 flight tracking isn’t merely limited to typing the flight number of your desired flight. There are a variety of different ways that you can use flight tracking to identify a flight, figure out its final destination, or figure out its flight history.
FlightRadar24 features a live plane finder, where you are able to see air traffic over an airport or geographic area. Using this as your starting point, you can filter out data to then figure out what specific flight might be overhead or landing near your specific location.
Beyond this, FlightRadar24 also offers premium levels of flight tracking that allow for real time, 3-D visual recognition. This recognition examines a visual of the plane, and then cross-references that with the body of data gleaned from ADS-B, giving you the result of a specific plane with its flight history and final destination.
FlightRadar24 also offers an AR (augmented reality) view in its higher tier subscriptions. With this AR view, all you need to do is hold your phone up to the sky. From there the FlightRadar 24
If you know a flight’s specific location, you are also able to use the map to physically find the plane yourself!
How much does FlightRadar24 cost?
FlightRadar24 has four different subscription levels that allow you to choose which services and features that you value, giving you the freedom to pay as little as nothing for an array of amazing flight tracking features.
FlightRadar24’s Basic account is free and gives you access to the following features:
Live Flight Tracking
Morse S Code
Limited Enhanced 3D view
Additionally, Basic gives you flight data for the past seven days.
FlightRadar24 costs $9.99 a year. You gain all the features of FlightRadar24 Basic along with
Prioritized customer support
Unlimited enhanced 3D view
Additional flight details
90 Days of flight history
FlightRadar24 Gold costs $34.99 a year. You gain all the features of FlightRadar24 Silver along with
Enhanced weather details
365 days of flight history
Finally, for $499.99 a year, you can purchase a business license which grants you
Everything in gold
Airport and fleet views
High level weather trends
Licensed for businesses
Curious about any of these tiers, but unsure if you want to shell out that much money? Not a problem! FlightRadar24 allows you to sign up for a free seven day trial for any of their paid subscription tiers. On top of that, you can choose to be billed yearly or monthly, allowing you greater control over your payments.
The subscription allows you to access your account on any iOS or android device, as well as from a personal computer – meaning that you can quickly swap between devices and continue to access your data tied to your account.
Plus, if you share ADS-B data with FlightRadar24, you get a free business level account!
So how do you share ADS-B data?
Sharing ADS-B data
FlightRadar24 partners with thousands of businesses and individuals to collect, relay, and analyze incoming ADS-B data.
FlightRadar24 operates the largest array of ADS-B receivers in the world, and you can add to this array through two different options.
Option one: you can apply to host an ADS-B receiver. If selected, FlightRadar24 will send out a free ADS-B receiver that you connect directly to your router or modem. From there, you mount the ADS-B receiver antenna on your roof, and simply connect the antenna to the receiver, and the receiver to the Ethernet. As long as you have a completely unobstructed view of the sky from your roof, and you are able to keep your device connected to the internet 24/7, you will have met the necessary qualifications to host your own ADS-B receiver, free of charge.
Option two: alternatively, you can elect to build your own receiver through an open source computer technology called raspberry pi. You simply need to purchase a raspberry pi computer, a 4gb microSD, an ADS-B USB dongle, and a power supply for the RPI. From there, FlightRadar24 will walk you through the process of configuring your raspberry pi device to receive and upload ADS-B data to their servers.
Regardless of which option you choose, your contribution to the FlightRadar24 database comes with a free FlightRadar24 business subscription – a 500 dollar a year value! If you have an unobstructed view of the sky, 24/7 access to internet, and are interested in helping make flight tracking more complete, apply to host your own receiver! You’ll be contributing to a worldwide cause!
When has FlightRadar24 come in handy?
While FlightRadar24 has always ben an excellent resource for those wishing to track an aircraft for fun, for help catching a flight, or for reuniting with a loved one; FlightRadar24 has also proven invaluable during certain world-wide flight crises.
In 2010, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland erupted, sending a massive cloud of ash all over Europe. This eruption led to a huge disruption of air traffic – the largest since WWII, with most of Europe completing shutting down all air traffic for over a week.
This massive disruption to air traffic resulted in many news sites, such as CNN, turning to FlightRadar24, and using their data and mapping to show the grounding or flight patterns of aircraft in the affected area.
A more lighthearted example was in 2014, when over 100,000 German football fans tracked the flight of the German National Football Team on their travel from Brazil to Berlin after winning the 2014 world cup. Using FlightRadar24, the fans were able to see exactly when and where their victorious team would land, allowing them to give them the largest welcome home party possible.
FlightRadar24 has also come to the public’s aid during times of uncertainty and tragedy. In 2014, FlightRadar24 experienced a surge of over 50 times its normal web traffic when two high-profile crashes were covered extensively on the news. The first was Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared over the southern Indian Ocean while en route to Beijing. The cause of the disappearance and crash sparked intense speculation, and hundreds of thousands of people flocked to FlightRadar24 to observe its flight pattern and last known location in an attempt to locate the crash.
The second major crash was Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down over Eastern Ukraine. The flight tracking provided by FlightRadar24 was, again, featured extensively, and used by many civilians worldwide in an attempt to help piece together the circumstances that led to the crash.
Some of the most tracked flights by FlightRadar24 include:
Global Supertanker 747
This aircraft was watched over 500,000 times, as it made its way across Chile, battling wild fires.
Every time the Pope flies, millions of devout followers flock to FlightRadar24 to view his progress in the air.
Perhaps a bit of an outlier, but this flight had Priti Patel, a British politician who had conducted unauthorized talks with the Israeli government. When these talks came to light, she was summoned immediately back to London by the Prime Minister of the UK. Tens of thousands of flight trackers logged in to FlightRadar24 to watch Patel fly back to London, where she ultimately tendered her resignation.
FlightRadar24 also operates its own YouTube Channel, which provides videos of flights taking off, along with podcast-like media, where FlightRadar24 discusses topics pertinent to flight tracking. FlightRadar24 also has a twitter account, where they tweet interesting flight patterns, along with interesting tidbits about new and unusual aircraft.
FlightRadar24 data isn’t limited to official FlightRadar24 sources, however. Users around the world will often use FlightRadar24’s ADS-B data for their own YouTube channels. Users often will work to combine interesting flight patterns or flights of historical significance into videos that people view millions of times.
Is FlightRadar24 for you?
FlightRadar24 is perfect for anybody who wishes to track a flight for personal or business reasons. It is the largest and most detailed flight tracking software and network available worldwide.
There are other services that offer certain flight tracking capabilities, such as FlightAware, but their network isn’t as large or as complete as that of FlightRadar24.
If you are looking for a flight tracking software that uses the largest network of ADS-B, MLAT, FLARM, and North American Radar, then FlightRadar24 is the obvious solution. Whereas airlines will only show you estimated arrival times and delays, FlightRadar24 will show you detailed maps that show flights moving across the globe in real-time. Additionally, you will be able to view multiple aircraft in transit at the same time, allowing you to find a specific flight, even if you don’t know the flight number.
If you wish to pull up historical flight records of aircraft, FlightRadar24’s varying subscription levels allow you to choose which plan will suit your tracking needs, with 7-90+ day flight histories available, depending upon how far back you need to track.
FlightRadar24 is available as a mobile app or on your personal computer, allowing you to access your flight tracking on the go or at home.