I use FlightRadar to track some flights. I am surprised to see that there are very few or no flights at all going to air fields of china.

Is my observation correct? I really doubt that this is correct.

If its true what is the reason behind that? enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Where does FR24 get its information from? Is that information available in China? $\endgroup$
    – RAC
    Apr 16, 2018 at 9:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ related: aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/30848/… (possible duplicate) $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Apr 16, 2018 at 11:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Related $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Apr 16, 2018 at 13:25

3 Answers 3


From the Flighradar How it works page:

Flightradar24 relies on volunteers around the world for the majority of our coverage

Note it implies:

  1. There are people willing to contribute
  2. These people can afford to buy receptors, gather the data and upload it to Flightradar

About point 1. In case of China how much people are willing to contribute? How many are affraid to do it to a foreign organization and how much are affraid of gettign the wrong attention from government?

About point 2. Most people on China cannot afford to buy such equipment (compared to USA).

It's easy to check point 2 by comparing macro economic statistics (So I doubt I need to link it here).

Point 1 is very speculative so each one should try to figure that by him/herself.

In fact I always wondered Fligth radar will got a poor coverage in third world countries (point 1) while getting near 100% coverage in USA.

Note also the size of aviation community (pilots, enthusiasts, aviation industry workers, etc) in USA is so much bigger tha in other corners of the world.

Edit's in response to Jaydeep comments

Flighradar giving away equipment like that is great, I think Wow! Note also the note on the same page:

Exceptions to these requirements can be made to applications from unique locations.

So that begs the question if they are actually granting such gifts to China. For the sake of the completion I will ask them.

EDIT and The Answer is:

So I asked Flightradar about it and they sent me the response below:

Hello Jean,

Thank you for contacting Flightradar24.com.

Your Support reference is 219752.

Yes, that is correct. We provide this free equipment to anyone in the world who has a good location with steady internet and power. The reason why you don't see many aircraft in the middle and west of China is because of the lack of receivers in these area.

You make an application and we go from there if it's a good location. If we already have receivers in the area then we put the application on hold but if its a good location then we provide them with a free kit.

https://www.flightradar24.com/apply-for-receiver -- Best Regards, Muazzam Flightradar24

Straight from the horse's mouth the answer is simple "lack of receivers" what causes that is open to speculation but a quick search for "rural china power grid" and "rural china internet coverage" points out "steady internet and power" can be the problem.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks jean for explanation. regarding point 2, I think people dont need to buy receptors because they give it out for free. flightradar24.com/apply-for-receiver $\endgroup$ Apr 16, 2018 at 12:11
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Also regarding third world countries, India is counted as one, but we have superb coverage here. $\endgroup$ Apr 16, 2018 at 12:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Jaydeep Another factor is possibly language barrier. India's been under british rule, so english is fairly prevalent. I believe english is far less prevalent in China. And I don't think FR24 is available in chinese. So probably fewer people in China even know about the free receiver? $\endgroup$
    – vidarlo
    Apr 16, 2018 at 14:49

Your observation is somewhat correct. Plenty of flights land at hundreds of Chinese airports every day. The main reason why it always seems so empty on FR24 (technological issues aside addressed by Jean), is that 80% of China's airspace is open only to the military. Civillian flights are restricted to narrow corridors, adding many miles onto a flight, while that big space in the middle of the country remains out of bounds. There have been talks about opening more of the airspace up, but for now it's a hell of a place to go flying.


Flightradar24 gets all this data from thousands of ADS-B receivers that they have all over the world. Rural areas in China (Middle and western parts) don't have these receivers and hence not much data is shown there.

The kit they provide is free or charge and all they require from the recipient is to have a stable internet connection and power.

Application for these kits can be made here www.flightradar24.com/apply-for-receiver


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