Flying BA15 from London to Sydney, I noticed that the flight is not tracked over Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, except for a short ping.

Is this for security reasons? Do planes disable their ADS-B, or is the data somehow restricted? Since position tracking is a safety feature, is this regulated or an airline decision?


1 Answer 1


The reason is that there is no member of the general public in those areas with an ADS-B receiver sharing live data with the public tracking sites.

Websites like Flight Radar 24 rely largely on volunteers installing ADS-B receivers and sharing their received data. They have a good coverage, but some areas are still not covered.

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    $\begingroup$ There are also many countries where even receiving radio transmissions is illegal if you're not the intended recipient. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Jan 9, 2020 at 17:05
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    $\begingroup$ Some of these sites actually provide the equipment for free if you commit to setting it up and operating it in an area where they need more coverage (for example flightradar24.com/apply-for-receiver). The legality is probably the bigger issue with those empty spots on the map. $\endgroup$ Jan 9, 2020 at 17:54
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelHampton Law might apply to private, unauthorized ownership of ADS-B receiving equipment, though. I wouldn't want to have a strange looking antenna in Iran right now, especially if the explanation is "it keeps track of airplanes". As a similar example: blog.telestial.com/2017/11/… $\endgroup$
    – ceejayoz
    Jan 9, 2020 at 21:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Someone, not a major investment for a first-world country, which is why there's great coverage even in the vast empty reaches of the United States, but $100 for the receiver plus the cost of an always-on internet connection is quite a bit in a place like Afghanistan. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Jan 9, 2020 at 22:40
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelHampton The U.K.'s OFCOM apparently does not share that view. ATC transmissions are similarly broadcasted in the clear, but OFCOM's official position is that people other than ATC, pilots, and such are not "intended recipients" and are not allowed to listen to those transmissions, record them, or share them with anyone else. This is why liveatc doesn't operate in the UK. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Jan 9, 2020 at 22:57

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