FlightAware Discussions

IACO -> Plane Type Lookup Service: What API / dump1090-fa available?


I wrote a script to capture data from everything my receiver is seeing and track first/last seen, and put it in a sqlite database for various reasons. I live near the Boeing factory in Charleston (KCHS) and like to know every time a new 787 takes its first flight especially. The thing is I can’t get the plane type from aircraft.json at all, and I can’t go back and fill in the plane type once it’s in outside databases.

So is there a web API I can use to turn IACO codes into Plane types, preferably the B87X format? While we’re at it, are there an other simple data sources that would be interesting to query? Right now I’m having to use Selenium to scrape the dump1090 website, but I can’t run that locally on the Pi. Figuring out the plane types with a script and keeping that updated would be great.

With the script, currently I can regex match certain plane types by ID such as BOE*, or by heading/ altitude/speed when certain planes are on approach for landing. Then it plays certain sounds such as the in-flight aircraft ding, pretty cool to look out the window and there it is. I like having a database locally here of everything seen with plane type counts and such. Some more information would help select the interesting aircraft and run everything on the Pi.

Can share the script if interested…


The lookup that dump1090-fa does is against a static database hosted on your receiver; the source data is here: https://github.com/flightaware/dump1090/tree/master/tools (the two .csv.xz files) if you want to use it directly.

nb: this is unlikely to help you with new aircraft, since they won’t be in the static db when they’re new.

One way to update the static dump1090 database is to feed it with data from vdl2 transmissions. There is a blog post about it here:

It won’t give you aircraft type, but it will associate the aircraft registration with the ICAO code.

Also available locally:

Edit: Ok you are using that already, that’s not what i would call scraping though.

Not sure why you need Selenium to parse that. (whatever Selenium is)

Here is an example of a parser running on the RPi:
Dump1090 MySQL Database Script with Alert and Filter

Thanks everyone,

The local static database is fairly out of date, but I may use that for now so I don’t have to scrape the website. Ideally I would like to have that information stay up to date. Does anyone provide a relatively up to date version of the database perhaps? Since I see a lot of new planes, I really want to be able to pull the latest information. Same for new Gulfstream jets down the way from me.

I’m going to have to dig in on vlm2dec, but basically I was wondering if there is an API out there I could query for extended information such as registration, aircraft type and other information dynamically rather than hosting static database files.

That may not exist, but it would be cool if it did. For now I will look to use the static database file instead of scraping the website.

Thanks everyone!

Don’t think there is a free API for that.

There are probably commercial APIs like that though.

OK, I think have everything figured out as best as possible for now. I unzipped the flightaware-20190502.csv which is in the latest version of dump1090-fa and am able to load it into memory to do type and registration lookups. I also had to calculate the distance from my receiver location via lat/lon to get all the data via aircraft.json and these sources. Working great at the moment, thanks everyone for the help.

Looks like this file is the one to keep up to date for now. If anyone knows something API based, let me know!

If anyone else is interested, I found another SQLite database here that has the most up to date information I’ve been able to find. They compiled the latest version two days ago:

BaseStation.sqb at https://data.flightairmap.com/

Neither it or flightaware are perfect, but I’ve been able to combine the data sets and get everything I’m looking for as best can be expected, including Owner stats, country information etc that’s relatively up to date.

Thanks again everyone

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