FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why does the map use non-latin characters (ie. Chinese, Thai, Cyrillic) in certain areas?

A: The default map layer comes from OpenStreetMap. To see a map using Latin characters, from the overlay menu, choose the “CARTO.com English” option

Why can’t I see a certian aircraft or aircraft in a certain area?

ADSBExchange mainly has ADS-B and MLAT data, MLAT is derived from multiple receivers receiving ModeS messages from the same aircraft.

Note that transponders can be misconfigured and will then transmit the wrong identification.

Military planes sometimes on purpose use a bogus hex id.

Thousands of people all over the world have installed a small SDR (https://www.rtl-sdr.com/about-rtl-sdr/) and an antenna to receive 1090 MHz and feed the data into our project. The received data is collected (ADS-B) and correlated to create MLAT positions. As we need to see an aircraft with 4 feeders to be able to find its location with MLAT the best way to expand coverage is to install your own feeder, even if there are already some in your area, or help us arrange to place one in the area of bad coverage.

Q: I live in XYZ, can you use another feeder there? Where can I see if you need more coverage in my area? Etc.

A: The answer is simple. If you live on planet earth, yes, ADSBexchange.com could use a feeder at your location. The map may look like you see aircraft in your area, but the truth is you can’t see what you can’t see. To detect aircraft with MLAT, we need a minimum of 4 feeders to receive data and the more receivers see it the better the MLAT accuracy. If an aircraft is low altitude, feeders may have to be within a few miles.

Q: Why should I feed ADSBExchange? Other networks give me a business/enterprise/super-duper “account” worth…. $x/mo.

A: ADSBexchange started as (and still is) a group of aviation enthusiasts pooling their feeder data to provide the most complete picture of air traffic possible without the censorship present on the “large, commercial networks”.

ADSBx prefers to allow “free” access to as many features as possible. We don’t put features behind a “paywall”, then hold them ransom to encourage/force people to feed.

Of course, if you enjoy using our site features, the community here would appreciate if you shared your data. While we don’t like the “paywall” tactics described above, users still ask “what’s in it for me” to feed. It’s almost as if they’d prefer we took a subset of features away, then give them back in exchange for feeding! We prefer not to play that game.

Q: How is ADSBexchange different than “other” flight tracking sites?

A: ADSBexchange operates a bit differently from other flight tracking sites. As a group of aviation enthusiasts, our primary goal is to answer the question of “what’s up there” rather than “is grandma’s flight on-time”.

  • You’ll never see an aircraft censored or “blocked” from our site. If one of our feeders is receiving it, the data will be there. This includes military, and other aircraft that attempt to be “unlisted”. Hint: to see some of the planes not shown by other sites, from the map page, right-hand column, Filters -> LADD -> Filter. This primarily applies to US registered aircraft.
  • We don’t “estimate” or “interpolate” positions. Every time you see an aircraft move on ADSBexchange it is based on actual data received and not an estimate of where the aircraft “should” be. Look at the unnatural movement of aircraft on some of the other sites – you’ll see what we mean. If we are receiving the data, we’ll update positions as often as once per second… with _real_ data.
  • We don’t put features behind a “paywall”, then hold them ransom to encourage people to feed. Features are the features. If you enjoy them, we’d appreciate you setting up a feeder or adding ADSBexchange to your existing feeder.

Q: Is there any way to get my flight/aircraft removed from your website?

A: The short answer: No. The long answer: No there is not. ADSBexchange.com does not filter any data from our website. If it broadcasts on public airwaves, we share it.

Q: Isn’t this a security risk?

A: No. If aircraft do not want to be seen, (such as military aircraft on a mission) they can always turn their transponders “off”. The position data shown by ADSBexchange is available to anyone who can spend $50 on Amazon and put the parts together. It’s not secret. Air Traffic Control voice comms are not encrypted either, and contain similar (or more) information.

Q: Is there a way to see the departure and destination airport of the aircraft from flight plans?

A: No. flight departure and destination info is not broadcast by transponders nor does it fall within the mission of ADS-B Exchange. ADSBexchange.com may revisit this policy in the future. By analyzing flight paths, departure and destination airports will be obvious assuming sufficient coverage exists.

Q: I’m building a project for my company but we aren’t making money off of it, can I get a free API key?

A: Any project for a commercial entity regardless of if the end results are being sold or used internally requires a commercial API license. In very limited situations ADSBexchange.com may choose to allow non-profit, research, or educational entities access to the historical data or API at reduced fee, in these situations such entities must meet all other requirements including hosting a feeder. ADSBexchange.com API pricing is a fraction of the cost of ADS-B data available anywhere else.

Q: The photo shown for the airplane selected is incorrect, can you fix it?

The photos shown on ADS-B Exchange are not provided by ADS-B Exchange, rather they are hosted and provided by planespotters.net. PlaneSpotters.net is showing the latest available photo in the database for the selected hex and registration, which may not always be perfect. You can help ensure that the database is up to date with photos by submitting photos/corrections to planespotters.net.

Q: Why is there no photo for the selected aircraft and just a silhouette?

In the event that no photo is found in the planespotters.net database for the selected photo, ADS-B Exchange shows a silhouette instead to provide a visual for the selected aircraft. Alternatively, if there is no silhouette available in the ADS-B Exchange library, or the type of the aircraft is unknown, then no photo will be shown.