Monday, July 16, 2012

FlightStats Data Sources


FlightStats aggregates schedules, airline, airport, and positional data from over 300 sources to produce its industry leading Flight Status information services.  From these numerous sources, we handle over 20 million pieces of flight data each day.  Using our internal processes we validate, normalize and apply changes to our Flight Status database resulting in millions of flight status and positional updates.

Published Schedule Data

Published Airline Schedules is the first ingredient in building flight status.  We ingest a daily schedule file produced by Innovata and normalize the data.  Data elements include routing, scheduled block times, codeshares, equipment type, flight type (cargo / passenger), and traffic restrictions.  Using this data we create upcoming flights in our database to which we update with operational data.

Airline and Airport Data

Through direct connections, feeds and reservation systems, FlightStats receives the operational data reported by airlines on their flights.  Data elements obtained include estimated and actual block times, status, and gate assignments. We process information from numerous protocols and formats including HTTP, FTP, Web Services, and MQ Series.   

Positional Data

We rely on two information streams to obtain positional / tracking data.  We process the FAA Aircraft Situation Display to Industry (ASDI) and integrate Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B).  Collectively, the data from these providers allow us to track the flight plan, latitude, longitude, altitude, and speed of many of the world’s flights.   

Reference Data

We maintain reference tables of airlines, airports, timezones, and equipment.  Each incoming piece of information is checked against these tables.  Where necessary we maintain distinct mapping / translation rules for a given data source.

The end result of our efforts is a comprehensive database of Flight Status information. FlightStats consistently obtains arrival times on over 77.5% of the world’s published flights, and we’re actively pursuing relationships to increase coverage. Flight Status records exist for each flight containing the published data, current airline reported information and positional data.  We make these records available in a variety of products including APIs, Alerting Services, Data Feeds and FlightStats.com.

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