Here are some updates regarding the API made in recent weeks:
USA LIVE FLIGHTS COVERAGE
We have integrated live flight updates for the airports in the USA, which is a huge live flight data coverage expansion (almost 400%). Updates are based on flight plan data and include aircraft registration and model, flight status, scheduled, estimated and/or actual times.
MODE-S TRANSPONDER CODES
We started storing Mode-S Transponder ICAO 24-bit identifiers for flights when possible. It’s populated either from ADS-B data or from aircraft registration (based on aircrafts database look-up). You can already see this information when requesting our FIDS or Flight Search endpoints.
PARTIAL EXTRA LIVE FLIGHT UPDATES
We’re experimenting with analyzing flight trajectories based on ADS-B data to provide more live flight updates based on this. This way you may observe more and more particular flights having updated times and statuses even if an airport is not marked as an airport having live flight updates.
COVID-19 FLIGHT SCHEDULES
The situation around COVID-19 is unprecedented and it has a dramatic effect on aviation traffic (we observe up to 80-90% traffic decrease in certain areas). We also had to adjust our algorithms extensively to deal with the growing degree of ambiguity and incompleteness of incoming information about flights.
The biggest impact is on the flight seasonal schedules. If you check flights scheduled in the future, you may notice that information is less reliable than normally due to numerous cancellations made by airlines these days.
But there is a difference between ad-hoc flight cancellation and systematic seasonal schedule change. What’s happening these days looks like a great many ad-hoc cancellations which, because of their quantity, seem like legit schedule changes. Airlines say: “we cancel all our flights because of COVID restrictions”, and for us, it sounds like a big schedule change. But it’s technically a batch of ad-hoc cancellations, just a very big one. It’s not a change in pre-planned seasonal schedules, which you see when you pull data from the API with more than a few days look-ahead (these flights have “Unknown” status). This data may or may not be augmented with live status data (incl. cancellation status) later. But it may be that many of the flights you see now in schedules will be canceled while COVID restrictions are in force.
However, even live data is inconsistent these days. Normally when a flight is canceled we receive a flight with valid “canceled” status. However, these days it’s more and more often that a flight may just disappear unexpectedly from the list a few hours before departure/arrival time and we don’t know if it has been canceled or it should never have been in schedules in the first place and we should also remove it as well. It’s also possible that canceled flight continues to be reported as planned with no time change even after flight departure/arrival time has lapsed.
LIKELY CANCELLED FLIGHTS
To address this and a few more ambiguity issues, “CanceledUncertain” flight status was introduced. This status will be assigned to flights that have been likely canceled. There is a complex technical background behind the assignment mechanisms, but it’s essentially based on the expectation to receive an update for a flight and failure to do so. Please be advised, that though status is likely to be assigned correctly, there is still a chance that the “likely canceled” flight has actually departed/arrived.
AIRPORT DAILY ROUTES STATISTICS ADJUSTMENT
In light of numerous COVID-related cancellations, we adjusted the airport daily route statistics endpoint to calculate statistics based on flights that actually commenced (canceled and likely canceled flights are now excluded) – this will give a much clearer picture of the current situation.