May 27 2012
This post is a re-edit of the original post made earlier last year.
I downloaded 2 Aircraft Tracking iPhone Apps which allows you to track the position, height, speed, Squawk Code, Aircraft type, heading, source, destination and Aircraft Registration, plus much more.
These amazing iPhone apps are brilliant if you are interested in aircraft or just want to know where a plane in the sky is heading.
So Which one is better, FlightRadar24 or PlaneFinder (Harry Hill would normally do ‘FIGHT’ at this point but I’m going to look at the 2 apps and do a proper review…In no particular order)
Flight Radar 24
This was the first app I downloaded. The main features were full flight tracking plus visual tracking where you could hold the iPhone camera up to the sky where there was an aircraft and it would point to it with identification. The Augmented Reality makes it possible to point the camera to the sky and view aircraft information and all the details regarding air traffic over you.
The accuracy is stunning – I actually grabbed a pair of binoculars when a Lufthansa 747 was reported over Waterford, and it was indeed the aircraft mentioned on the iPhone App. Amazing.
Check out http://www.flightradar24.com/ for more details.
I downloaded this app just as a comparison as this one showed actual photos of the aircraft in question and also allowed for sharing of the spotted aircraft on Facebook etc.
The screen shot above shows the same Aircraft which was spotted in the Flightradar24 App.
PlaneFinder does almost everything that FlightRadar24 does, but I find that there are certain functions you can achieve such as advanced filters, e.g. show all aircraft above a certain height, speed or indeed of a certain airline. I also found some aircraft not listed on FlightRadar24.
More information on PlaneFinder can be found at http://my.pinkfroot.com/
How do these iPhone Aircraft Tracking Apps Work?
These apps only show information regarding aircraft which are equipped with ADS-B transponders. About 60% of the passenger aircraft and some private aircraft have an ADS-B transponder installed.
The Flightradar24 and PlaneTracker apps use a network of ADS-B receivers around the world. These ADS receivers get plane and flight information from the aircraft with ADS-B (Broadcasts) and sends this information to a main server. These apps simply collect the ADS data and displays this information on the iPhone Apps map. However only aircraft within the coverage area of the ADS receivers are visible – so if you are in USA you may have limited visibility as these apps are mainly covering Europe. Current coverage is approx 90% of Europe. However, there is also limited coverage in USA, Australia and Middle East.
Both Apps require WiFi or a 3G connection to work. If you only have a cellular data connection you may get 1 or 2 aircraft showing up but the app won’t work to it’s full potential – so ensure you have 3G turned on.
The only problems I saw was one aircraft which was a ghost image of itself – i.e. for example an aircraft D-GBHF was showing up side by side but it was the same aircraft. Could have been a glitch.
However the most fun glitch I saw was an aircraft which had a recorded cruising speed of zero knots – clever trick!
Flight Tracking Apps – Conculsion
Both apps are excellent in the way the aircraft are displayed plus the refresh rate and the accuracy is very good on both apps.
Both apps have been updated since my original post and I will be updating this post with the changes and new features.
PlaneFinder retails at €3.99 in the App Store
FlightRadar24 reatils at €2.39 in the App Store.
FREE Versions of these iPhone Apps are available also.
If you have any comments regarding these apps please comment below!