FlightAware ADS-B Statistics - Ranking


From the Tooltip on the ADS-B stats page, I see that a sites ranking is determined by the total number of positions seen over a 30 day period. (ADS-B, MLAT + Other) Shouldn’t this be factored by the distance of those positions seen and the total number of aircraft available to be seen? Some poor feeder sitting on Trinidad and Tobago will never rank high, even though he/she may have optimized their installation to the nth degree simply because there are fewer airplanes flying their area… I think that they should have a shot at being #1 even though their monitored region may have lower traffic than DC, Boston or Heathrow…

How about correcting the ranking and divide by the average number of aircraft available in that area and also factor in the range of those aircraft?


Yeah, I think you might be right about that.

Ranking should reflect effort put in and result obtained for FlightAware. Otherwise it could start to look like a person providing their site is less than properly appreciated. And that can’t anyone help can it?


I like the element of competition, however, more rules means more options to cheat, lonely feeders get a quality device for free and there are more inequality elements. On the other hand: their info is more valuable (just think of the four feeders who provided data for the missing MA flight). In real life: define area, should the quality of the device or antenna be taken into account?

I like the idea, implementing a fair system seems quite complicated and the rules will always be a subject of discussion.


It is not only about competition but about sanity and where we want to go as well. Around the major airports you already have a large number of feeders (there might be a few exceptions) Adding more feeders at these points or getting them to extend their coverage are only going to increase the amount of data from areas where there is already an excess of data without adding any precision of tracking or numbers of tracked airplanes. What would make more sense would be to measure the number of new planes added or previously uncovered area now covered by a specific feeder or a new feeder.
My two feeders see at least 30 planes per day that are not covered by any other feeder over parts of their range. The area they cover are quite big. But please remember, it is a hobby not a competition. I will never see as many planes as some-one living next to a major airport, but perhaps I get more joy from the few planes that I do see.


We’re on the same page Henry. I mentioned the Malaysia Airlines missing plane example as I had just read an article about it in which was mentioned that four FA feeders tracked it. There is a difference in the value of the data that one feeds to FA. My objection is that it is very hard to develop a fair system to take that into account.

As for uncovered areas: one already gets a free high quality feeding device. If FA would give me the value in cash, I would build the best antenna setup there is. I’m in for the fun, to learn and to optimize and yes to achieve the highest possible rank. The joy comes from every step that improves the results to me.


You have a few valid points. Living in a larger statistical metropolitan area, I probably owe my ranking to my location and not to the effort I have put into using PiAware (although my better half would disagree). I do not think that the FREE device compensates for the enthusiasm of someone’s efforts in a more sparsely populated region.

The challenge is to develop a suitable ranking algorithm. It should be empirical, of course, but some other parameters (beyond density) are radial spread of the readings (some proper effort gone into positioning the antenna and bypassing HOA deed restrictions - for urban folks) and obviously weighting the distance readings too. This would naturally be iterative and worth further discussion.

Ranking is fun but not the end game. I think we all agree on this point. As long as we can feed data to improve the service and leverage the privileges to conduct ad-hoc queries, I’m happy. By providing guidance and hardware (antenna, filters), FA did me a lot of good. Previously, I wasted pocket money on filters and antennae (from East European hobbyists) until FA set me on the right track.


Is the overall ranking really that important? There is no way without cheating to beat the top guys for me. My reference is my country and nearby feeders. The majority of the members probably does this for joy, personal interest or learning new technologies. A free device doesn’t change that, but I mentioned it to illustrate that inequality exists on multiple levels whether such as location and weather.

I live in a country with lots of rain and a nearby forest and many radio transmission towers. If it rains, my numbers drop as the wet trees impact radiation. Should this be part of the model as well?


The FA ranking system is completely useless, unless you live close to a main airport. It is one of the few things where FR24 is much better.

Is it really FAs desire to promote more duplicate sites in well-covered main hubs, and where an effort to add coverage to the more remote areas is treated as uninteresting? That is what the current stats system does.


BTW, the ranking seems completely random, the numbers doesn’tmake any sense.

One of my sites currently has these stats:

And it ranks below a site with these numbers:

So, even if we accept that it os volume that counts, millions of positions cant’t compensate for the different in number of MLAT aircraft… ? That is weird…


24420+4605+1500 = 30525
15997+8580+5975 = 30552

Close call but he/she did a little better.

However, I see strange things happen as well. Best overall position was 204 then 203 and now 353


I agree, rankings is totally risible. A lot of us did not get free kit either.

I simply do it to try and develop an optimal Rx set up which is stable and consistent. Took a month or two and some tinkering, but for my location it’s now near optimal. One last short bit of coax to upgrade and I’m done. I’m within 50cm of having it the best it can be in my location with it’s circumstances.


Some replies are really uncalled for. Just browse the forum and read to which lengths IT staff went to restore data for our statistics after outages or other problems.

If you don’t like the system, fine, be specific in your feedback and propose a solution.

I like the system as simple as possible but no simpler, but would prefer more transparency. When are which stats calculated and in which way for example. I also think that more clarity prevents complaining.


Being really specific for a moment; those graphics after the rank in the first column of the 30 day ranking on one’s stats page. Are they there to represent up and down?

They look like a caret and an inverted caret, but done in Trendy Wendy style. Tell me they are NOT some new emoticon please.


I have no idea what else they could represent and to me they are quite clear and appear to be accurate.

I share the criticism that the way statistics are calculated is unclear and appears to be unreliable at some times. The “nearby sites” section is apparently based on a seven day period and showing the median value. These values change during the day - possibly a moving 24h total?

The highest rank is also a mystery to me. It was 203, last week somewhere in the high 300s and now I’m back at 267 while I’m averaging around position 400. If my highest rank is 203, it can’t possibly become a higher number, unless it is also time-related.

This is not a rant, but I don’t know how the system works and therefore I’m not sure if I trust it. A wiki-page or whatever with a detailed explanation really would help.


Yes, I am not able to imagine them being anything but that too.

So, imagine my surprise when I watched carefully for a couple of days, and I kept seeing one pointing up, while the number to the left grew greater, which is to say that the rank was falling.

If that is accurate, I really don’t want it to get any further inaccurate.

So, risible as it stands. I suspect it’s perhaps aimed at children, like some sort of wampum.


once upon a time :smiley: FA Stats - is there a second systematic error? and MLAT stats now live - Friday December 18 2015

but regarding the graphic interface of fa-stats today i have to say that i’m very happy with. the layout is very very nice and clear - and none of the competitors (fr24, planefinder etc.) did by far invest so much money and love in the frontend for us (feeders). the only thing i miss is a hourly aircraft-graph and table like we have for messages.

with the data behind my main concern is still the change from flights to aircrafts and that they count a day worldwide at utc what extremely pushes the us sites in aircraft counts. but to be honest i don’t really care :smiley:


After the initial disappointment of moving from #400 to #1500 when the stats calculation was changed, the ranking is now irrelevant to me. I can’t do anything about it (well apart from moving house to the top of the hill :wink: to get improved coverage to the south).

So long as FA continue to feed me back the MLAT data, I will continue to be part of the network. :grinning:


Thanks Tom, that clarifies a lot.

I still don’t understand why the methods/models and calculations for the statistics aren’t publicly documented.

I’m a nerd, I don’t care about returned Mlat data, fleet tracking, sigmets or a free enterprise account. I’m using the page with the rankings only to see how others manage to get high scores. And yes, I want to understand why my highest ranking just dropped - it’s not even midnight zulu time.


i’d say because of all these hidden inconsistencies e.g. the ones i was talking about two years ago.

the returned mlat for my is the main reason to feed flightaware and none of their competitors. in the ‘wonderful’ new forum we have no links to the stats-pages of other forum members. if you post a link to your stats or put the link as your website in your profile-settings i could have a look there …


Just put the forum username to the end of: https://flightaware.com/adsb/stats/user/“username” (without the quotes) and you will see everything you need.
I did the link for Akubra instead of him (home he does not mind it)