2016 was a very busy year at Flightradar24 as we launched the new version of the website and continued on our quest for global ADS-B coverage. We added thousands of terrestrial receivers, an autonomous surface ocean robot, and satellite ADS-B reception to our network in 2016. Look back with us on the year past.
Thousands of New Receivers
We added nearly 2000 new Flightradar24 ADS-B receivers in 2016, including remote receivers that expanded our coverage area in important ways and plenty of receivers that increased our MLAT coverage. At the end of 2016, receivers on the Flightradar24 network numbered slightly fewer than 13,000, a number we hope to quickly pass in 2017.
A few of our new receivers took quite an effort to install and activate. Installed in late 2015, but activated in early 2016, our first receiver in Antarctica began tracking flights to Troll Research Station in early January. We activated new receivers in northern Greenland and on Bear Island using satellite internet connections and we also activated our third receiver in Svalbard, our northernmost receiver to date.
Setting our sights on other remote locations, we activated two receivers on the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean. The receivers there are tracking test and ferry flights to the island as well as adding new coverage to flights between Africa and North and South America.
In Space and on the Sea
In July we successfully tested integrating space-based ADS-B reception into the Flightradar24 network, a first for any commercial flight tracking service. In cooperation with Airbus Defence and Space and GomSpace, using the GOMX-3 nanosatellite, we collected ADS-B data from flights transiting the Atlantic Ocean outside our terrestrial coverage area. In August, we completed a second test with GOMX-3. The successful completion of these tests allowed us to move forward with satellite-based ADS-B tracking and in December we announced our cooperation with Aerial & Maritime, Ltd to design and develop a joint flight data service based on FR24’s global terrestrial ADS-B network and extensive expertise and A&M’s space based infrastructure.
Not content to just leave the ground for space, we also set sail in September with FloatRadar24 our ADS-B receiving Wave Glider. An autonomous surface ocean-going robot, FloatRadar24 allowed us to test additional non-terrestrial ADS-B reception with great success. The Wave Glider handled storms, including waves up to 4 meters, while tracking aircraft flying over the Norwegian Sea. We’re currently examining how best to deploy future Wave Gliders to track even more flights.
Making New Kinds of Flight Visible
In June, we made a significant investment in SkySense.io, to make the future of flight visible. As the number of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones, rises they’ll need to be visible to other aircraft in the area. SkySense’s BCON¹—the lightest, most energy-efficient and smallest ADS-B Out device for drones—will help keep the skies safe for all aircraft, manned or not.
A Brand New Flightradar24 Web Experience
In March, we launched the new Flightradar24 web experience, bringing significant upgrades to the site and adding a ton of new features, including our new 3D View. We redesigned the flight information panel on the left side of the page and added new flight data, including Extended Mode-S data, the first flight tracking service to do so.
We added new views, like List View, Airport View, and Fleet View so you can follow flights however you’d like. We also added ways to take Flightradar24 data offline with our new CSV and KML export tools.
Throughout 2016 we continued to build on the new Flightradar24.com, adding aeronautical charts, weather layers, Multi-select View, Delay View, and reconfigured airport data pages with even more information about flights and current weather conditions at thousands of airports around the world.
Thank you to all of our millions of users who tracked flights with us in 2016. And thank you to everyone who is hosting a Flightradar24 ADS-B receiver or sharing ADS-B data with the Flightradar24 network from a home-built receiver! In 2017, great things are coming as we finalize development of the next major release of our mobile apps and prepare for new kinds of flight coverage. Stay tuned!