Is there a way to make sure a flight is tracked on flightaware.com or similar sites?
Similarly, is there a way to prevent a flight's track from being available to the public?


2 Answers 2


Skimming FlightAware's FAQs:

  • The most consistent way to show up on FlightAware is to have your flight worked by ATC (a squawk code and an IFR flight plan), or to fly an airplane equipped with ADS-B Out.
  • FlightAware doesn't really track VFR flights unless they have ADS-B Out:

    some VFR aircraft with flight following are available on the position maps but it largely unreliable

You can block your tail number in a few ways. Both the FAA and FlightAware operate block lists.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If you are operating VFR with flight following, you might be able to explicitly request the controller input your VFR flight following into in the "N A S" (National Airspace System) discussions.flightaware.com/post144279.html#p144279 $\endgroup$
    – bovine
    Commented Dec 29, 2013 at 7:23
  • $\begingroup$ That whole FAQ page is pretty interesting. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 1:49

Sites that track aircraft including FAA 5 minute delayed are Flight Radar 24 and Plane Finder I am also putting up a private tracking network in the Philippines.

These sites use volunteers that host equipment on an internet connection. Typically these sites will receive Data from Mode S Transponders from up to 200+ miles away with the right aerials. I only need about 6-8 sites to cover the whole Philippines. Line Of Sight limits below horizon reception, so you do need a station close to an airport if you want to get ground traffic.

If you emit Mode-S then you will be seen. There are no regulations to prohibit that and almost impossible to enforce.

Anyone can create this setup for less than $30.00, so there is no point in worrying about who is seeing what.

The FAA so have the ability to hide a specific aircraft, you can request that, but the private networks will report the data.

There is another technology called MultiLateration that can determine an aircraft's location form 4 or more ground stations with Mode A or Mode C transponders. Flight Radar are actively implementing this in Europe now. It requires a network called PlanePlotter to operate.

  • $\begingroup$ To be visible in the FAA data, you must still be operating under an IFR flight plan (or sometimes VFR flight following). Even with multilateration, Mode A and Mode C transponders don't transmit a unique aircraft identifier (only temporary squawk codes) so you will still need to have a flight plan open with ATC to be uniquely trackable. $\endgroup$
    – bovine
    Commented Dec 29, 2013 at 7:11

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