This is a neat side-effect of a new aircraft-to-aircraft airspace separation and aircrew situational awareness system (“ADS-B”, short for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) that’s being deployed throughout the fleet of U.S. aircraft: How planefinder works. From your smartphone, you can track the progress of any suitably equipped plane while it’s in flight.
ADS-B will provide continuously updated air traffic and weather information to pilots. The FAA has mandated that ADS-B transceivers be installed on most aircraft before 2020. The existing ground-based radar system will become a backup to ADS-B. Here’s the FAA’s description of ADS-B:
Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) is FAA’s satellite-based successor to radar. ADS-B makes use of GPS technology to determine and share precise aircraft location information, and streams additional flight information to the cockpits of properly equipped aircraft.
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