Ground Vehicles

Would it be possible on the next or future revision of FlightAware dump1090 to have airport ground vehicles to be depicted as such?? Currently, they are shown as aircraft.

If so, vehicles seen and positions reported should NOT count toward one’s statistical 30 day ranking.


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Ground vehicles often do not identify themselves as such.

That’s unfortunate.

I would think that the ICAO or FAA would require it.

Why? Collision avoidance is needed for all vehicles.
It doesn’t matter if they are ground vehicles or aircraft.

I assume that local control, (i.e. tower controller/ground controller) would want to distinguish between an airport ops vehicle, fire apparatus, sweeper, plow, EMT, law enforcement etc v.s. an aircraft.

I could be mistaken.

Regardless, because I live within 1/4 mile of KFLL, my monthly statistics are skewed unfairly v.s. other participants whose setup is not in close proximity of an airport where they would, otherwise, pick up airport ground traffic.

It is common for that distinction to be made in a way that is specific to the airport - perhaps using a reserved address range, or particular callsigns. Vehicles don’t move from airport to airport so often so it doesn’t have to be a globally-agreed system. Setting the ADS-B category field doesn’t seem so common.

You could look at your aircraft.json for the “category” field to see how effective it would be in your area for distinguishing vehicles from aircraft.

Airport vehicles do show up with their own call sign tags on an airport ADS-B / ASDE-X software for the actual airport use.

Cars on nearby freeways also show up on ASDE-X :wink:
(see e.g. the northeast corner of KIAH on

That’s a Farm-to-Market road not a freeway! Freeways have at least 19 lanes.

I could call it a dual carriageway and really confuse everyone…

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Checked KBOS ASDE-X coverage - looks like floating carriages are being picked up as well. Not sure about under water vehicles :smiley:

Here in PHL, all ground vehicles have an ICAO code that converts to N7xxXB. Most of them even ident their actual vehicle number. Airports ops are A9, A10, A209, A219, A229 and others. There’s also MEDIC30 and F8 and F10 of ARFF. I forget what all the snow removal trucks use, but they all have ADS-B and show up on the map.

I modified my map to use GND as the aircraft type for any “aircraft” with XB suffix that is on the ground. Then I also used FlyingPete’s custom icons (, which includes a pushback tug, and linked GND to the pushback tug.

It all works pretty well. But this is all for PHL, so it may not be the same at your airport.

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Thanks for the info Huff!

Too bad this stuff isn’t standardized. :frowning:

Ha! I just realized that FA is getting these from my feed and adding them as “flights”…

et al

I believe that’s one of the reasons why my statistics are skewed all to hell.

Pilots forgetting to place their transponder in STANDBY after blocking in also biases the statistics.

Actually, they’re not forgetting…they’re following the rules:

14 CFR 91.225 (f) Each person operating an aircraft equipped with ADS-B Out must operate this equipment in the transmit mode at all times.

There really isn’t a “standby” mode for ADS-B. You’re thinking of a mode C transponder or standard mode S (w/o ADS-B), however even those should be “ON” at all times, as explained in the AIM:

AIM 4-1-20 a. 3. Civil and military transponders should be adjusted to the “on" or normal operating position as soon as practical and remain on during all operations unless requested to change to “standby" from ATC

7. If operating at an airport with Airport Surface Detection Equipment - Model X (ASDE-X), transponders should be transmitting (on position) continuously with altitude reporting while moving on the airport surface.
8. Aircraft equipped with ADS-B (1090 ES or UAT) must operate the equipment in the transmit mode (on position) at all times while on any airport surface.

And in case your wondering, FLL does have ADSE-X. :smiley:

We are planning to use a ground vehicle icon in a future dump1090 map release. However, as already noted on this thread, this is dependent on the vehicle identifying itself as a ground vehicle “category” properly per the Mode S specifications.

There are no plans at the moment to filter ground vehicles from the statistics page.

Thanks Eric. Maybe when all aircraft are required to be ADS-B compliant, (2020?), you could include only those “aircraft” which are actively in FLIGHT mode to be included in the monthly statistics.


I believe the regulations you cited only apply to aircraft/vehicles on active airport surface movement areas (e.g. taxiways and runways).

See: … o15006.pdf

Unless this has been superseded.

Information about aircraft on the ground is pretty useful, though.

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