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Finding and Exploring ADS-B data

Finding and Exploring ADS-B data

Planes are overhead frequently. It's easy to look-up at a passing contrail and wonder where it's going. Thanks to a radio transponder now present on most aircraft called Automatic dependent surveillance—broadcast, or ADS–B, it's possible to crunch data about the planes around us. Passenger flights, cargo, military or the small Cessna flying overhead: it's possible to find their flight paths and ownership records.

We'll talk about how hobbyists can get at ADS-B data and what they might do with it. We'll also consider, briefly, how accident investigators can use ADS-B data to fill-in details of what happened when a plane crashes.


Nathan L. Walls

October 14, 2019


  1. Finding and exploring ADS-B data Nathan L. Walls All Things

    Open – Oct. 14, 2019
  2. Data from the Cloud(s)

  3. Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast

  4. Finding and Exploring ADS-B Data • How I learned about

    ADS-B and became interested in it • What ADS-B does • What ADS-B looks like • Acquiring ADS-B data • Data and visualization possibilities
  5. This is an exploration, not expertise

  6. A high-level overview

  7. How I became interested

  8. None
  9. Accident Reconstruction

  10. None
  11. What ADS-B does • ADS-B is divided into two services

    • Traffic (TIS-B) • Weather/Flight Information (FIS-B)
  12. What ADS-B / FIS-B does • Provides in-flight weather information

    • Airborne pilot reports (PIREPS) • Doppler Radar images (NEXRAD) • Significant weather info (SIGMET) • Thunderstorms • Icing
  13. Other FIS-B info • Notices to Airmen (NOTAMS) • Automated

    Terminal Information System (ATIS)
  14. We’re going to focus on ADS-B Traffic (TIS-B)

  15. What ADS-B / TIS-B does • Old radar-based method: Radar-based

    interrogation of each aircraft’s transponder • New ADS-B-based method: Each aircraft reports on itself
  16. ADS-B/TIS-B advantages • Decreased reporting time for position changes vs.

    radar • Higher positional fidelity to air traffic control, allowing for less space separation • Aircraft can see each other’s ADS-B data and present pilots with a representation of aircraft around them without air traffic control
  17. ADS-B by example

  18. What’s that plane?

  19. ADSB Exchange

  20. None
  21. None
  22. None
  23. FlightAware

  24. Let’s look at some data

  25. ADS-B / TIS-B is chatty ~15 sec of traffic

  26. None
  27. None
  28. None
  29. What kind of data did Delta 176 send out?

  30. Identification and category info

  31. Air-to-air surveillance info

  32. An All Call reply

  33. Velocity, track, altitude changes

  34. Position

  35. Emergency status

  36. Wait? Planes send text formatted data?

  37. No, they send hex data https://www.lll.lu/~edward/edward/adsb/DecodingADSBposition.html

  38. Raw stream Over a few seconds

  39. You can read parts

  40. These are paired position reports

  41. mode-s.org

  42. None
  43. None
  44. None
  45. Acquiring ADS-B data • Data services/visualizations • ADS-B Exchange •

    FlightAware • Data • ADSBHub
  46. Acquiring ADS-B data • Over the air, there are two

    flavors • 1090 MHz (Shared with Mode-S transponders) • 978 MHz (Universal Access Transceiver)
  47. USB-based SDR E.g. FlightAware stick and PiAware

  48. USB-based SDR E.g. FlightAware stick and PiAware

  49. Data processing with ADS-B After acquiring data, what are some

    things we could do with it?
  50. Visualization ideas • Traffic by time-of-day • General Aviation •

    Cargo • Schedule passenger service domestic and international
  51. Common flight routes High and low Victor Airways and the

    flights that travel on them
  52. Flights you see everyday • Near an airport with scheduled

    service? • What flights are consistent?
  53. Unique aircraft over time Query airliners.net for photos

  54. Altitude by aircraft type Scatter plot?

  55. Flight path/terrain data

  56. Hypothetical Data Pipeline • Acquire raw radio data • Ingestion

    into a Postgres time-series DB, with or without the radio metadata • Expand location data into PostGIS storage • Expand ICAO addresses into registration numbers, etc • Work with your language/framework of choice
  57. Conclusions/Observations • There’s a lot of curiosity you can satisfy

    with ADSBExchange and FlightAware • “What’s that plane?” • You can go beyond those rich offerings with your own data collection
  58. All of this helps my curiosity and wonder

  59. Data Sources • ADSBHub • http://www.adsbhub.org • ADS-B Exchange •

    https://www.adsbexchange.com/data/ • FlightAware’s Firehose • https://flightaware.com/commercial/firehose/
  60. Resources • FlightAware’s PiAware • https://flightaware.com/adsb/piaware/build • ADS-B Exchange’s How

    to Feed • https://adsbexchange.com/how-to-feed/ • FAA info on ADS-B • https://www.faa.gov/nextgen/programs/adsb/ • Mode-S.org • https://mode-s.org
  61. Credits • ADSBExchange • FlightAware • Mode-S.org • Wikipedia •

    www.lll.lu/~edward • National Transportation Safety Board
  62. VitalSource Check out our booth!

  63. Thank You! https://wallscorp.us/presentations/ https://twitter.com/base10