The Flight Tracks API provides a rich set of positional data to be used within flight tracker applications. The Flight Tracks API gives you access to information on an active flight, including position (lat/long), altitude, bearing, speed and route as well as derived "synthetic" positions when observed positions are not available. Initial flight plans and aircraft positions are also made available when they are received (often roughly 24 hours in advance for flight plans) until roughly seven days after arrival. Please note, derived aircraft positional data is not as accurate as the raw positions. The API is designed to ensure total coverage, even when direct observations of runway times or positional data are not available.
- course: The direction of travel in degrees relative to geographic north, clockwise. The range for this data field is -179 to 180.
- vrateMps: The velocity of ascent or descent (if negative) in meters per second.
- phase: Description used to indicate the most likely activity of the plane at a given time. Phases include: Ground, Take-Off, Departure, Climb, Leveled, Cruise, Descend, Approach, Landing. Not all positions will include a phase.
- lastObserved: The timestamp of when FlightStats last received an observed position. In cases where no observed positions are provided for a flight, this field will not be present. The 'date' field in each of the positions blocks identifies the time when the plane is believed to be at that specific location -- either observed or calculated. FlightStats continues to calculate the position even when no additional observed data is provided. In such cases, there will be a difference between date and lastObserved, a gap that increases as the flight continues.
- stationID: The station identifier used by the FAA for TFMS data. Examples: KZLA, KZAB, KZDV.
Special Note regarding stationID:
The FAA TFMS stream consists of a collection of observations from different regional and national tracking systems. Each of these has a separate stationId. A single aircraft may be observed by multiple stations at once, each of which may report a slightly different position due to the inherent inaccuracy of radar. Because of this, trackers showing ASDI streams should either show all signals separately, maintain an affinity between a callsign and single stationId as long as possible, or integrate the different signals.
(Note: ADS-B data payloads are unchanged in the new system. FAA TFMS data payloads include one additional field - stationID.)
Applications do not need to make any changes to their current request in order to receive derived positions -- derived is the sourceType by default. If you want to receive raw positional data, you need to add a single argument. (sourceType=raw)
If you would like to take advantage of the new fields, your application will need to include that value in the 'extendedOptions' n/v pair, as shown below.
Here is an example request that will return positional data without the new fields.
This example will return the new derived data. sourceType is not needed, because it defaults to sourceType=derived. In this case, new fields will be included.
This example will return the new derived data and include new fields (extendedOptions=includeNewFields)