Until recently, only a few privileged people were able to follow flights. Basically, only air traffic control employees had access to flight radar data. Ordinary citizens could – in a broader sense – follow a flight only by looking up in the sky. As soon as the aircraft was out of sight, flight tracking was no longer possible. Nowadays, anyone is able to access the global flight radar map as a result of digitalisation. Via the Internet, flights can be followed at any time from the computer or smartphone.
What does flight tracking really mean?
When talking about flight tracking, it does not mean that we literally “follow” a flight. Rather, it means following flight movements via a flight radar. Flight tracking is possible with various end devices. All that is required is Internet access and a matching Internet-compatible device. Following flights with a computer, tablet or smartphone is then quite straightforward. With a high-speed Internet connection, almost any flight in the world can be viewed and followed from your home computer. Flight radar services such as flightradar24 are provided for this purpose. They are easy to access and use by means of your browser. Apps offering the same functions as the browser version can be installed onto tablets and smartphones.
What is the purpose of tracking flights?
Flight tracking was originally done to control and monitor the airspace. Only employees in the aviation industry used to have access to a flight radar. Today, radars are still used to locate every aircraft. However, nowadays the data from the flight radar stations is digitalized and transferred to world maps. This makes it possible to precisely visualize the current location of an aircraft. Flight routes of aircraft can be perfectly followed by visualizing the flights on world maps.
Flight following is nowadays not only used to control air traffic. Anyone can follow flights at any time via the Internet by using applications like flightradar24. For some users, flight tracking might just be fun and entertaining, while others consider it an important source of information. Private ciitzens use the data from flight radars for the following purposes:
- To call up flight routes
- To track changes in flight routes, for example due to severe weather
- To find out information regarding the operating aircraft type
- To check whether flight arrivals at destinations are delayed
- To find out details about departure and destination airports
- To determine regions affected by air traffic noise
It goes without saying that there are many other reasons in addition to these applications to take advantage of flight tracking.
Practical information regarding flight tracking
The visualization in form of an interactive map is the main element for flight tracking. The map shows almost all the flights operated all over the world. Besides the current location of aircraft, the flight radar provides many more details. With a simple click onto an aircraft symbol, additional information related to the relevant flight will appear. As part of flight tracking, the following information can be called up on the map:
- Scheduled take-off time
- Scheduled time of landing
- Distance travelled
- Current distance to the destination
- Information regarding the aircraft type
- Current flight altitude
- Current aircraft speed
- Flight number
- Name of the airline
As soon as an aircraft symbol has been selected, it is highlighted accordingly. This makes flight tracking more convenient. Simply by clicking onto the symbol, the route already travelled and the expected route to be taken will be displayed. In addition, the distance between the aircraft and the destination is also displayed.
Following flights on your smartphone
Flight radars can be accessed at any time, even on the road. A smartphone connected to the Internet is all that is required. Flight tracking is possible using any common Internet browser. Therefore, smartphones can also be used for this purpose. Besides the browser version, there are many apps providing a flight radar. Some of the apps cost money and therefore provide additional information that is not available in the free version. However, the basic version used for flight tracking is available completely free of charge.
Flight tracking: Conclusion
Flight tracking on the Internet provides great options for many users. Plane spotters, for example, use it as a tool to observe and take photographs of aircraft landings. Via the flight radar, relatives can check at any time whether family members safely arrive at their destinations without any incidents. The flight radar data used to be available exclusively to air traffic controllers. Nowadays, anyone can access the data. Thanks to providers like flightradar24, a great deal of interesting information regarding air traffic is provided at all times. Further great developments are to be expected in the flight tracking sector. Some providers already work on a three-dimensional visualization of the flight radar. Whatever the future will bring: Following flights in real time will definitely continue to fascinate users while providing them with interesting information.