FlightRadar24: a quick guide

4 mins read

FlightRadar24 is a website that is designed primarily for the tracking of aircraft across the entire world. All aircraft that appear on the tracker are flying in real time, and the default colour for all plane types is yellow.

But why is FlightRadar24 getting talked about so much? The effects of the current war in Ukraine have seen multiple users take to the platform to safely track the flights of their friends and family. This quick guide will outline the basics of the site and how to use it.

Upon first opening up the site, a large map full of yellow plane icons can be seen. Each different plane icon represents a particular kind of aircraft. For example, the biggest icon represents the Airbus A380, and the second biggest, the Boeing 747. This is followed by some of the main passenger planes you are likely to find at airports, such as from Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer. You can also find fighter jets, business jets, helicopters, light propeller aircraft and even gliders on the site.

Sample of website showing a flight from Glasgow to London. Image credit: FlightRadar24

A search icon at the top allows the user to type in a flight number. If currently flying, a symbol next to the search result will show it is live. To track any other plane, click on any icon. 

A menu will appear that shows the callsign of the aircraft, the details of the flight, how far into the flight it is, and how long it has until landing. Scrolling down this menu also reveals the aircraft type, registration, altitude and speed. 

On the map a coloured line shows the route of the aircraft. Purple colours indicate cruising altitudes. White colours indicate the plane is on the ground. As a plane takes off, the colours change from white, to yellow, to green, to light blue, to dark blue and finally to purple.  

You can also track the history of a past flight, by typing in the flight number. A play icon will appear beside the specific flight. In the playback menu, users can view the flight data chart showing the speed and altitude of the aircraft.  

Military aircraft can be tracked on the site. The flight path will look very different to a commercial aircraft. These planes perform specific exercises and tend to fly in random patterns and circles.  

Another feature of the site is you can click on any airport pinpointed on the map, which will reveal flight arrival and departure times, including past and future flights. 

Sample from website showing a list of scheduled departures from Glasgow airport. Image credit: FlightRadar24

The versatility of the site is ideal, but the downside is that the free version only works in 30-minute periods. Simply refresh the page when the session times out and the flights can continue to be tracked. 

Feature image credit: FlightRadar24

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PhD - Environmental Science. Aspiring research scientist. Like to blog things science, and how it affects us.

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