[Avionics Today 10-29-2014] FlightAware unveiled several upgrades to its popular web-based flight tracking system at the 2014 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention and exhibition last week. In addition to these upgrades, the flight tracking service provider has moved beyond its core online aircraft flight tracking system with a global Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) receiver network.
FlightAware spent the last year building a global network with more than 1,000 ADS-B receiver nodes in more than 70 countries. Now, any ADS-B equipped aircraft operating within range of the FlightAware FlightFeeder ground stations can be tracked. The live ADS-B data gathered from the stations is used to augment the company's other position sources, including radar and data link.
Furthermore, FlightAware has added new capabilities to its flight plan advisory service designed to help operators flying in remote airspace with little to no radar coverage. FlightAware automatically receives flight plans that are currently filed in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The upgraded service from FlightAware allows customers to input plans into an advisory service web page and, when the aircraft sends an ADS-B or datalink position update, the uploaded flight plan is activated to allow for global flight tracking.
"The flight plan advisory service is available for FlightAware Global subscribers with datalink and/or ADS-B Out [avionics] on board. Flight plan advisory is meant to provide enhanced tracking for situations where we don’t receive government flight plans, such as for [Instrument Flight Rule] IFR flights outside our primary government radar coverage area or for all [Visual Flight Rule] VFR flights," said Max Tribolet, manager of business development for FlightAware in an interview with Avionics Magazine.
One of the greatest advantages in using the flight plan advisory service versus using "position-only flights” where FlightAware knows the intended destination. “We calculate the ETA, and show the full route on the map," Tribolet says.
The company's FlightFeeder ADS-B receiver is designed to support flight tracking for smaller General Aviation (GA) operators and Fixed-Based Operators (FBOs). Roughly the size of a can of soda, it receives ADS-B data directly from aircraft transponders via a small antenna and then makes the data available on the local network to users and also sends it to FlightAware over the Internet.
Another new capability showcased by FlightAware is that it is now supporting satellite datalink position reporting from handheld Iridium tracking units produced by DeLorme, YB Tracking, Rock Seven and Apex Flight Operations.
The U.S.-based company is also now tracking business aviation flights in Europe that operate under a tail number rather than an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) call sign.
Also introduced for business and general aviation operators is the new FlightAware TV, a map-based fleet/airport flight tracking display that can be run on HDTVs. The map shows en route aircraft arriving or departing an airport, along with an arrival/departure board list of flights that are en route or scheduled to arrive at an airport. FlightAware TV is basically the equivalent of the traditional commercial airport arrival/departure screen for FBOs and GA airports.
"Our new coverage enhancements enables us to offer a global service tracking service for our customers which is even more comprehensive and accessible," said Tribolet. "Particularly, the introduction of sub-$1000 handheld iridium tracking devices to FlightAware Global opens the doors to many cost-conscious operators who have never before had access to worldwide flight tracking."
The newly announced partnerships with DeLorme and others add to the company's existing datalink integration with ARINC Direct, Garmin, Honeywell GDC, Satcom Direct, Spidertracks, SITA and Universal Weather UVdatalink.
Currently, FlightAware is also focused on growing its global flight tracking coverage areas to regions where the web-based service is not receiving government sources of flight tracking data the way that it is currently set up in the U.S., Canada and Europe, among other regions. SITA is also working with FlightAware to deploy more FlightFeeder ADS-B receivers worldwide.
"The next step would be Asia, South America and then Africa eventually. In no particular order, we're going after whoever we can get soonest. We're in talks with a few governments, its just a matter of arranging the right licensing agreement," said Tribolet.