Are ADS-B In receivers such as Stratus or Stratux permitted to be used along with other portable electronic devices at cruise altitude on commercial airliners? Will they receive GPS and ADS-B signals in the passenger cabin to be able to track progress on ForeFlight, for example?

Stratus 2S, ForeFlight, and iPad Source: Appareo

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    $\begingroup$ Now that's in-flight entertainment! $\endgroup$ – ymb1 Aug 29 '16 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ I doubt a Rapsburry Pi in a homemade plastic box will meet any FCC regulation (it could be really harmful, I'd not say that for other FCC/EU certified hardware that are anyway also prohibited). $\endgroup$ – mins Aug 29 '16 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ @mins -- the Pi itself (bare board) is FCC certified (I doubt the FCC cares about a plastic box as the box is rather...transparent to RF unless it's conductively loaded or metallized in some way) $\endgroup$ – UnrecognizedFallingObject Feb 12 '17 at 0:28
  • $\begingroup$ @UnrecognizedFallingObject: I meant certified for cabin use. Arc welders are also certified by FCC, you'll agree they may not be compatible with the equipment in electronic bays. The original certificate is void as Raspberry Pi has been modified to receive 1090 MHz. For programmable modules, firmware/drivers controlling the RF components need to be certified with the board. The result of shielding can make a difference in RF levels and certification class. $\endgroup$ – mins Feb 12 '17 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ @mins -- I suspect that taking a FCC-certified board and adding a RF module to it (the ADS-B In receiver) that is also FCC-conformant should be OK (the Pi's internal RF guts aren't being tweaked in any way) $\endgroup$ – UnrecognizedFallingObject Feb 12 '17 at 16:11

The receiver will work in the cabin but the reception is really poor. GPS will only work if it has enough satellites in view, so a window seat is best. The signal is severely attenuated by the windows.

I have brought ADS-B receivers with me on various flights but in my experience you will not get a proper ADS-B signal from aircraft further than about 20-30NM away.

Whether it is permitted or not depends on the airline and the country of operation.


Although not banned by the FAA, virtually all major air-carriers have company policies that prohibit anything that sends or receives a signal.

This would include GPS and ADS-B receivers.

Here is one example

Devices that are NOT permitted for use:
- radio receivers and transmitters

  • $\begingroup$ "radio" is unfortunately an ambiguous term. Given the many airlines that both permit GPS receivers and WiFi onboard, I don't think it should be read as "anything that receives any EM signal". $\endgroup$ – BowlOfRed Aug 29 '16 at 18:32
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    $\begingroup$ Delta explicitly allows during all flight phases. delta.com/content/www/en_US/support/faqs/during-your-trip/…. Joe Mehaffey used to keep track years ago at gpsinformation.net/airgps/airgps.htm. It's out of date, but I doubt the number has gone down significantly since 2010. $\endgroup$ – BowlOfRed Aug 29 '16 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ There's no problem with using an ADS-B receiver in an airline cabin. The United restriction I'm sure was targeted more at VHF or Ham radio equipment which could be tuned to interfere with frequencies used in flight. Interestingly enough, I have brought my flight bag with me and my Icom AC-24 handheld VHF radio onboard commercial fights (but never powered it up!) without any objections from the flight crew. $\endgroup$ – Carlo Felicione Aug 30 '16 at 2:53

I've brought my Stratus on several trips. Inside an airliner, you'll really only get signal if you leave the thing pressed against a window the entire trip. Otherwise, you probably won't even get GPS lock, forget about ADS-B. TBH, there really isn't a lot to see once you get further away from the airport.

No one has ever made a fuss about me using it, typically they are just more curious as they see whats on my iPad. Once I was sitting next to an off duty captain, once he saw what I was looking at we ended up chatting the entire trip.

So... generally it shouldn't be a problem, but you should always follow the direction and instruction of the flight crew, commercial or not.


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