FlightAware Discussions

How to know if a particular aircraft is ADS-B equipped?


I am trying to research how much of US commercial flight is actually using the NextGen system. My interest in this is from the angle of Public Policy, rather than as an avaiation nerd - so please excuse my mistakes (if any that follow).

As I understand, NextGen requires equipment at both the aircraft and airport ends.

I can get data about NextGen equippage at airports, but am not able to identify what aircraft is equipped with ADS-B. Is there a way I can get that information through the FAA database? Or any other database?


For retrofits, the presence of ADS-B data would be the only way to really know. For newer planes, you could probably sort it out by serial # and when a manufacturer started equipping aircraft, etc, but that’s hardly straightforward.

Thank you for the response. I was also afraid of something like that. So, as I understand short of listening for ADS-B transmissions, there is no way of knowing whether a aircraft is ADS-B equipped or not. Do these ADS-B transmissions contain a tail number to identify the aircraft?

Is it possible to get a log of the various ADS-B transmissions that have been logged (either by FlightAware or other enthusiasts) and mine them for said information? Would these be available through the FlightAware API?


They do contain a unique identifier that can usually be mapped to a tail number. You probably should for this project.

This page will offer little bit to your question.

You can check some files for 2014 in this folder.
[The Y in the far right spreadsheet column = Aircraft equipped and sending ADS-B data]
Dropbox folder dropbox.com/sh/e2n3j7zl7s8a … h_ML8Nf0Ia

Thanks a lot. You have given me a nice starting point. The statistics are also quite telling.

As I understand your data is for Southern California. any pointers as to how I could get similar data for other areas?


You can also use VRS-World.com to look at live data around the would.
It’s best to go into the ‘Menu>Option’ tabs and turn on some additional stuff.
Click on the “List” tab and click on the pad lock to add stuff.

In the two columns, it will tell you what aircraft is Mode-S or ADS-B in the list.

  • Transponder (Will display text “Mode-S” or “ADS-B”) on the main page.
  • Transponder Flag (Will show icon “A” for ADS-B or “S” for Mode-S) on the main page.

Other stuff to turn on is “Civil/Military”, “Model Code” , “Model” , “Operator” , Time Tracked" , Message Count" , “Latitude” , “Longitude”.

You can also use the “Filters” option to view one airline at a time.
To see what aircraft is Mode-S only, or ADS-B for that airline fleet flying at that time.