Most flight trackers use data feeds from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Aircraft Situation Display to Industry (ASDI). The ASDI keeps track of flights within the United States’ airspace.
Before take off pilots turn in a flight plan to air traffic control that contains information concerning expected departure time, route, and arrival time.
To use a flight tracker you must key in the name of the airline, date, and flight number. If you know the airport code, you can further expedite the search. After you enter the necessary information, you will see the status of the flight, including its boarding time, if the plane is already in flight, how close it is to arrival at the next airport, or if it has reached its destination.
A flight tracker allows you to monitor the plane’s location in real time even while it’s in mid-flight. The flight tracker uses a GPS-style satellite map with a flight indicator so you can see a line that connects the airports of departure and destination. The plane is represented by a small icon, and to keep track of its progress you must refresh that icon regularly. Additionally, you can follow vital facts such as altitude, the type of aircraft, speed, flight number, and estimated time of arrival. Finally, the flight tracker keeps you posted on if the flight is going smoothly and is on schedule to reach its destination on time.
Causes of Flight Delay
Many things might delay a flight: weather, control directions, build up on taxi-ways, mechanical glitches, etc. In most cases, however, flight delays start at an airport.
Weather influences a flight in three ways: at the airport of origin, during the flight, and upon landing at the destination. A thunderstorm, heavy rain, or snow might affect flight schedules. When one plane cannot depart on time, it often causes a domino effect on other planes. This results in a backlog in which departing and incoming carriers have to wait until the weather returns to normal.
When an airport is small, expect congestion. Planes taxiing irregularly can cause irregular air traffic patterns. Air traffic controllers have to clear up landing and taxiing lanes, or planes will be forced to circle around the airport area.
In some cases when an aircraft is about to land and the pilot decides it is not safe to do so yet, what is known as a “go-around” will occur, which results in a delay.
Mechanical problems can also delay flights, and these types of problems are generally reported to passengers at the airport of origin. Airlines update the flight status now and then so travelers know when a flight is likely to reach its destination. Sometimes airlines and airport authorities might not be able to send updates quickly enough to keep travelers and service providers updated of the change, so the flight arrival status might show everything to be on schedule when in fact the flight has been diverted to another airport. This explains why flight information might not be current when you check the flight’s status online.