Entries in aggregates (1)

Monday
Jun202011

How to use the Flight Status widget from FlightStats (Part 1)

FlightStats (www.flightstats.com) is the 2004 creation of Conducive Technology Corporation, "a software development and information services firm" based in Portland, Oregon.  FlightStats aggregates real-time data on commercial passenger flights departing from and/or arriving at a major airport in North America, Europe, or eastern Asia .  It presents real-time weather reports from major airports in these regions.

FlightStats displays overall on-time performance data for individual flight numbers.  It also displays, for up to a day following the scheduled landing time, whether a particular domestic flight departed early, late, or on time; and whether it arrived early, late, or on time.  On its homepage, FlightStats presents real-time data on how backed up each major North American airport is.  (In the wake of the United Airlines computer glitch, the delay at Chicago's O'Hare International was deemed by FlightStats to be "excessive.")

Not all information displayed by FlightStats is in real-time.  Transponder, radar, and other information about a commercial aircraft's position in the sky, was aggregated into a stream of data made available to the airline industry by the FAA in 1991.  It is known as the Aircraft Situation Display to Industry (ASDI), and today, it is provided through the Department of Transportation's Volpe Transportation Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

FlightStats uses the ASDI stream to closely track domestic (United States) flights over from their point of origin to their destination.  It tracks international flights during their time in American or Canadian airspace.  FlightStats displays latitude and longitude coordinates, airspeed information, altitude information, and approximate heading information, for commercial flights over North America. However, for traveler safety and national security reasons, the data obtained from the ASDI stream, obtained and displayed by FlightStats, regarding planes currently in the air, are delayed by a few minutes.

Conducive Technology Corporation is also the creator of Pathfinder, an integration of real-time cargo flight data from 850 cargo airlines, with real-time ground shipment schedules from numerous delivery companies.  Pathfinder allows business owners who rely on seamless and quick transitions of their merchandise from one mode of transportation to another, to make more intelligent and cost-efficient decisions regarding how to ship, when to ship, by which routes to ship, and even whether or not to ship.  But unlike many of the features of FlightStats, most of the features in Pathfinder are not free of charge.

FlightStats offers several free widgets for webmasters to place on their travel-related websites.  In the right sidebar, immediately below the www.kayak.com widget, there is something navy blue at the top, powered by FlightStats, and deceptively labeled "Flight Status."  In fact, this widget is capable of much more than simply telling whether or not a flight is expected to leave on time, or is expected to land on time.  Unfortunately however, the widget does not understand natural English, the way that search engines do to some degree, and high-powered computers do, to a great degree.  So here is an explanation of how to "talk" to the Flight Status widget from FlightStats, to get the information from it you want.

There are currently four different types of commands that the widget recognizes.  Those four are Airline Commands, Airport Commands, Flight Status Commands, and On-time Performance Rating Commands.

There are currently two Airline Commands the Flight Status widget understands.  The first command simply returns information that FlightStats has on a certain airline.  This information often includes (for United States-based carriers especially) website addresses and phone numbers to call if you have lost luggage, customer service-related links to the airline's website, the airline's local customer service phone number in (as many as) dozens of countries, a web link to information about its frequent flyer program (if it has one), a link to its mobile site, a link to www.seatguru.com for "floor plans" (so to speak) of its planes, and a link to the airline's www.wikipedia.org page.

The command understood by the widget is simply the two-character IATA code or three-character ICAO code for the airline.  Typing in B6 or JBU will return the information on JetBlue Airways, for example.  Typing in "JetBlue" or "JetBlue Airways" will return a redirect page, because the widget does not understand natural English.  The widget tends to know a lot more about United States-based carriers than others.

The second Airline Command is simply the IATA or ICAO code for an airline, followed by the word "scorecard."  The command returns daily on-time performance data for the airline.  It shows how many of the day's scheduled flights it has information for, first of all.  But then, out of those, it shows how many flights that day have departed and arrived successfully, how many have been delayed (and by how long they have been delayed), and how many have been canceled.  It shows the all-important on-time percentage for the day, for both departures and arrivals.  It also breaks these exact same data down by the top ten departure airports for the airline, and the top ten arrival airports for the airline.

The widget can display an impressive depth of information on the number of flights flown each day, by even the smallest, most obscure airlines.  But it does not necessarily track them for on-time performance, especially if they are not .  The widget tends to know a lot about flights which depart from and/or arrive in either North America or Europe.  Thus, airlines without many scheduled flights that depart from or arrive in either North America or Europe will not be as carefully tracked for on-time performance by FlightStats.

Explanation of Airport Commands, Flight Status Commands, and On-Time Performance Rating Commands, will be in Part 2.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the Flight Status widget from FlightStats.

original article (FlightStats)

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