I was wondering if there is some sort of app or website that allows people (well, me as a passenger) to listen in to the ATC of my current flight? (Assuming the flight has passenger wifi).

If this is possible, could this increase the safety of flights?

More passengers and therefore, more ears, on ATC could have potentially saved multiple airliners where major incidents occurred due to pilots mishearing / misunderstanding ATC either due to broken signals, language barriers or other distractions. Please note, this isn't my primary reason for wanting this. I am just interested in listening for entertainment purposes.

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    $\begingroup$ Maybe we could have something like Twitch Plays Pokemon where passengers vote on what the next control input will be based on what they think they heard over the radio. $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    Jun 27, 2018 at 14:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Cloud - The shopping part is still there, and the new sentence contradicts the last paragraph. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Jun 27, 2018 at 14:15
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    $\begingroup$ You claim about passengers "saving" airliners by listening to ATC seems highly implausible. Do you have sources to back it up? But there is a possible reference: for years United let passengers listen to ATC audio on channel 9 (I don't know if they still do or not). If you can find a) an example of a passenger listening to channel 9 who then "saved" an aircraft, and/or b) statistical evidence that United flights were safer in general due to channel 9 (i.e. after controlling for all other factors) then you might have an interesting point. But I'm very sceptical that you would find anything. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Jun 27, 2018 at 14:31
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    $\begingroup$ Not only is it highly implausible that a passenger listening to live ATC would save a flight, but any possible benefit would be overwhelmed by the massive number of passengers raising false alarms due to misunderstandings. $\endgroup$ Jun 27, 2018 at 15:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Cloud You're imagining a scenario where an untrained passenger hears, understands, interprets and correctly assesses the implications of a radio call when two professionals with much more information and situational awareness did not. And then, the passenger has to convince the cabin crew that they should interrupt the flight crew seconds before takeoff to tell them that the guy in 21C thinks that the crew misheard an ATC call. Even for another pilot, that would be difficult. I just don't see it happening outside of a movie. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Jun 28, 2018 at 13:42

2 Answers 2


https://www.liveatc.net/. It's real time ATC, although there might be a delay of a second or two in what you hear.

For fun, great, but if you're thinking that a passenger could listen in and hear something and run up to the flight deck to correct some misinterpretation, no.

  • $\begingroup$ @John K - Why not? What if they are speaking in your native tongue, while the pilot is not? $\endgroup$
    – Cloud
    Jun 27, 2018 at 13:40
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    $\begingroup$ How many passengers know the situation and lingo? The pilots have a better situational overview of both the plane and traffic. $\endgroup$
    – vidarlo
    Jun 27, 2018 at 14:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Cloud For every "useful" input from a passenger, there would be a few hundred "huh? What was that? Is that bad?" inputs, and the distraction of having to deal with those would be awful. United has 'channel 9' on their IFE so you can listen, but they do NOT accept passenger inputs in the manner you suggest. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Jun 27, 2018 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ @RalphJ: Does United still have Ch.9? I thought they ended that soon after 9/11. I used to love listening to it, however. $\endgroup$
    – abelenky
    Jun 27, 2018 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ @abelenky Some flights still have it, although it is entirely up to the pilots whether or not it is on and working. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jun 27, 2018 at 18:07

Passengers, on US carriers anyway, would not have access to the pilots. The best they could do is notify the steward/stewardess and one of them could relay the info to the pilot or first officer.

I am a small plane pilot, and also enjoy listening to the active frequency when it is available.


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