Where’s that plane heading?

Last modified 20.03.2022 | Published 07.01.2018Travel

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Have you ever gazed up at the sky above, spotted a plane and wondered where it was heading? And more: Where did it depart from, what kind of plane is it, what airline, how high is it flying? Well, there’s an app for that! Check out Flightradar24.

Flightradar24 is a free plane tracker app available for iOS and Android devices as well as on their website.


Features include

  • Watch aircraft move around the world in real-time
  • Identify flights overhead & see flight information—including a photo of the actual aircraft—by simply pointing your device at the sky 
  • See what the pilot of an aircraft sees in 3D 
  • Tap on a plane for flight details such as route, estimated time of arrival, actual time of departure, aircraft type, speed, altitude, high-resolution photos of the actual aircraft & more
  • See historical data & watch playback of past flights
  • Tap on an airport icon for arrival & departure boards, flight status, aircraft on the ground, current delay stats, & detailed weather conditions
  • Search for individual flights using flight number, airport, or airline
  • Filter flights by airline, aircraft, altitude, speed, & more

The app is free but there are two upgrade options for more features.


This is how it works

Most aircraft have ADS-B transponders that transmit positional data. Flightradar24 has a network of more than 17,000 ground stations around the world to pick up this data. 

With the help of something called multilateration, this service is even able to calculate the positions of aircraft without ADS-B transponders. They use real-time radar data from North America too. 

In addition the apps and website has links to photos of each identifiable plane. The photos are usually taken by individual plane spotters around the world.

According to Wikipedia “Aircraft spotting or plane spotting is a hobby of tracking the movement of aircraft, which is often accomplished by photography.” These guys also record information regarding airports, air traffic control communications as well as airline routes.

I’m not one but I do find it fascinating once in a while to visit Flightradar 24 for an update of what is going on above me.


More travel apps

There are two more posts with suggestions of travel related apps you might want to check out.