Flightaware, Firehose and MSFS

Are there any future plans to possibly providing free real-time ADS-B flight data via Firehose to MSFS for enterprise level users who are hosting a node via SkyAware?

There’s a program on flightsim.to called Enhanced Live Traffic but it’s hardwired to get its data from FlightRadar24. The source is on Github. It sends commands to get traffic near your sim location and injects the traffic into the sim. There are issues with the data for aircraft on the ground. They rubberband and show other behaviors, but in the air the approximation is very good. It also lets you set/edit model matching. Not sure if it might be useful for your purposes with modification.

What I was wanting to do was modify the program to get its data from my ADSB receiver when I fly in my reception area but use FlightRadar24 when outside my reception area. Haven’t dug into it yet, though.

I haven’t looked too closely at FightRadar24, but it appears there is a subscription required, and the maps look very similar to what’s in Flightaware. Hence the desire to ‘hook’ that data into MSFS since I am providing my ADS-B node based data to them.

There’s no subscription required for FlightRadar24 or Enhanced Live Traffic. The issue is the data they supply when planes are on the ground. It really messes up immersion when flying near airports. It’s hard to miss the teleporting and rubberbanding.

ADSBExchange has/had a paid subscription for data for injecting real-world aircraft into XPlane but it is limited and expensive and I’m flying FS2020. The Firehose here is delayed so listening to real-world comms while flying gets a bit wonky at times.

For those that live near airports with good visibility of ground ops in their ADSB receiver data, it should be really easy to add a service that responds just like FlightRadar24 when it gets an Enhanced Live Traffic request. I have contacted the author of Enhanced Live Traffic to see if he might be interested but he didn’t bite. Probably with good reason.

FS2020 already gets live traffic from the Firehose, though. It’s filtered so you don’t see everything, you don’t see any ground ops, and it’s delayed so listening to real-world comms gets hosed up too. It’s also been a bit buggy. ELT has some issues but is a really good start. It just needs some tweaks and it could be a hybrid with high resolution data from an ADSB receiver and regular data when flying away from home. I just haven’t had time to dig in and make it work yet.

I knew there is live traffic in MSFS already, but I was trying to see what’s out there to enhance it. I’ve been using a ADS-B receiver for a couple years now - more for the novelty of it. It’s kinda cool when I see (or hear) a plane outside, I can see it on my node using Skyaware. However, I also use it for my local weather. It doesn’t forecast, but I can see clouds and storms approaching with intensity in color. And it’s usually spot on. Other than that, I have no commercial need.

I did do a little research into something similar;

It is more involved and covers a lot of data/information. But it comes with a subscription fee, so I’m trying to reconcile the additional monthly cost, on top of everything else I’ve paid for to enhance MSFS. :slight_smile: I’ve paid more for planes than my original Deluxe version of MSFS cost! MSFS has become a mega-software platform with thousands of add-ons, every type of aircraft from just about every era, liveries, paint kits, real time maps, flight planning tools, hardware controls, StreamDeck profiles, and the list goes. And more realistic than previous versions. It’s simply a fun and rewarding experience.

Oh, one other thing… I basically had to upgrade my computer with a bigger case, huge cooler, new fans and a Geforce RTX 3070 Ti graphics card to better support the software. Now everything runs much better, cooler and quieter.

I tried to watch that video but there’s near constant ads. Did look into it more but that’s AIG Traffic Manager and is AI traffic - apparently not real world. I could be wrong, though, but people complain about the $170/year subscription price whether it’s real or AI.

I couldn’t tell if it was airport traffic and scenery enhancements or if it included GA and other traffic. The built-in real-world firehose traffic from MS and FlightAware is filtered to airliners that travel between larger airports. There’s AI traffic of more types but it’s not that good of a reproduction. I just wanted to see all real-world traffic properly in my range and it wouldn’t be hard to do once ELT knows to contact the local receiver for traffic inside 100nm (for example) and FlightRadar24 for traffic when I’m outside that circle from my ADSB receiver. Bonus, there would be no filters at all on traffic so you would see everything in your receiver’s space regardless of privacy laws or decisions to block traffic.

ADSBExchange has the ideal data presented on their maps. It’s got all the taxi and ground ops stuff. I’ve combed through their documentation on the XPlane stuff and there is costing involved for every single query. You have to have an account and the calls have a special format. Worse, asking for too many positions is seen as abuse and can get your subscription revoked. But ELT would likely need more modifications to parse data from them but it’s also apparently not available anyway in the way it is with FlightRadar24.

The query format to FlightRadar24 is very simple and on the ADSB Pi, the file with all the necessary data is in memory so access would be very fast. It would be easy to reply like FlightRadar24 to queries but the ELT program would need to know your radio’s location (trivial) and local static IP for the receiver (trivial), and would have to decide if you were in the radio’s region or outside of it and direct the queries appropriately (slightly more complicated but still trivial). But that should do it. No other modifications to ELT should be required. It would still parse the responses and inject the appropriate traffic.

I was thinking airports and FBOs might be interested since they could have a receiver at the airport and a display using the FS2020 “drone cam” that would show all ADSB-equipped traffic in full real time. Setup would be pretty trivial other than loading up a box with Windows and FS2020 and setting up an ADSB receiver and installing the service (yet to be written) necessary to handle the queries.

This way would be completely free, though, and all would be the best quality, most complete, and highest time resolution data in essentially real time.

I was only referring to FlightRadar24 that required a subscription. I didn’t know about ELT until you mentioned it. I looked at the FR24 site after watching the YT video in the link I provided. This was related to the Real Traffic app. Apparently FR24 appears to use data from Flightaware as well. Not sure why they wouldn’t. It seems to be the most popular app for tracking flights. Or at least their plotting of aircraft on a map looks identical. I guess I’ve be missing out on some good add-ons. :slight_smile:

I just downloaded, installed and tried ELT out of KJFK. After I landed, I pulled over to the apron and just watched some of the traffic. Lot’s of activity, mostly with larger/commercial aircraft. But admittedly, I wasn’t in the GA area, so to be expected. Much better and more dense than what’s in FS2020. Makes landing at an busy airport more interesting. :slight_smile: