new PiAware - why no regionals and no tail numbers?


I’ll begin by saying that I’m very new to all the technology/hardware/software that most of you discuss quite casually in this forum. Hence, perhaps, by newby questions.

I recently set up a PiAware as described here:

All seems to be working well, I’m seeing all the “major” airlines/aircraft that fly overhead. The main reason I wanted to set up a PiAware was to track the regional airline (Pacific Coastal - PCO) that flies into the local airport using Saab 340 and Beech 1900 aircraft. I was a bit disappointed to find that while I can “see” a 787 at FL380 I can’t see the Saab which flew a few thousand feet over my house. I guess this is because these regional aircraft are not equipped with a ADS-B transponder. Maybe someone can confirm this for me.

Also, with my account newly upgraded to Enterprise, I am now able to view aircraft tail numbers when I flight track by operator. So again I was disappointed to not see any tail numbers when I looked at Initially I thought this was because of the regional aircraft, but in looking at other operators that operate SF34 and B190 aircraft I see that some (but certainly not all) show tail numbers. Can anyone explain this?

Many thanks!


Most of our cargo flights don’t have tail numbers listed, i’m guessing they don’t get put on the flight plan, but I don’t know for certain.


Those Saab 340 and Beech 1900 are probably not ADSB equipped and hence would need MLAT to provide a location. A combination of the low altitude and your distance from other Piaware receivers probably means there is not enough data for MLAT to give a position.

However they could be transmitting Mode-S and hence should appear in the table with a value in ICAO and Altitude columns and perhaps some other information. If a Saab 340 has just flown over and there is just one entry in the table at the correct altitude, that’s likely to be the one. You want a tail number? Search for the ICAO value on Flight Radar or similar.

This concept isn’t going to work on a major airway with lots of possibilities but, given your location, there are not going to be many options :smiley:

#4 is very helpful for looking up ICAO hex codes.

#5 is very helpful for looking up ICAO hex codes.

Agree. That’s what I usually use but I looked up a couple of Pacific Coastal hex codes and nothing there. Hence my suggested alternative.


Many thanks for the replies. Very helpful!


Hope it’s useful.

Based on personal experience when I was on vacation in Hawaii in May. There’s a USAF C-17 at 2500’ showing on my tablet/dongle combination as one passes by in front of me at about 2500’ on approach to HNL. No position showing but that’ll be the one, then!