My name is Martijn Rammeloo, and as a hobby I am a ‘virtual air traffic controller’ with Dutchvacc (www.dutchvacc.nl), within the global VATSIM network. Our aim is to control the virtual air traffic above the Netherlands as safely and realistically as possible. One of the aspects we pay attention to, is assigning gates to inbound flights that resemble the actual gate assignement as closely as possible. In order to do so, we take the airline, aircraft type and the origin of the flight into account. We pay extra attention to so-called ‘real-life flights’: virtual flights that use a real-life callsign. We try to assign these flights the exact same gate that the actual flight received on that day.
In order to make life for our ground controllers a bit easier, I have been developing the ‘EHAM Gate Planner’ (ehamgateplanner.rammeloo.com). However, the website that provides me the real world gates uses flightnumbers, while the VATSIM network uses callsigns. Hence, I need a tool to translate callsigns into flightnumbers. To make matters worse, airlines like KLM use so-called alphanumeric callsigns: KLM18S is actually flight KL1662, KLM86 is flight KL692 etc. So, just changing the ICAO airline code (KLM) into the IATA airline code (KL) will not always suffice. Besides the flightnumber, I am also interested in the origin of the real world flight, in order to exclude ‘false positives’: pilots that use a real world callsign only by accident.
Flight Aware seems to fit my needs well, but (to me as a very inexperienced developer) it is VERY overwhelming, both from a technical perspective (SOAP, REST: never heard of…) as the sheer number of API’s/options to choose from. To eat the proverbial elephant spoon-by-spoon, my first questions are:
- What would be the best API to translate a given callsign into an actual flightnumber, and give me the origin airport as well (preferably ICAO, IATA otherwise)? The Flight Aware frontpage recognizes alphanumeric callsigns just fine, so I guess Flight Aware is capable of linking callsigns and flightnumbers. For example: entering KLM54W (callsign) is perfectly recognized as flightnumber (KLM) 1364.
- What ‘class‘ would this query be? Even though I guess we would only make 50-100 queries a day, we are a non-commercial community, working with volunteers only. Hence it is obvious that we are looking for a cheap (yet durable) solution.
If I am satisfied that Flight Aware can offer me a fitting and affordable solution, I ‘might have’ some technical questions