First, let me offer my congratulations for producing a first-class flight tracking system. I speak from experience as both pilot and a database engineer. Around 8 years ago, I worked on the FAA NFDC database (Airports, Navaids, etc.), NOTAMS database and provided some database designs to the first company in the flight tracking arena.
At that time, the web was nascent, yet I strongly recommended that they provide a web interface; they didn’t and are still stuck in a client-server world. Their product pales in comparison to your offering. I’ve used a number of tracking systems over the years for personal and business purposes. Yours is the easiest to use and provides a wealth of data not available from other services.
It’s been mentiond before, but having historical information and track logs would be very helpful. Sometimes an aircraft flies so often that the history is gone before it can be reviewed.
On the home page, the distinction between “Arrivals” and “En Route to…” is obvious. The distinction between “Departures” and “Scheduled Departures” is not so obvious. The “Arrivals” heading indicates that something is scheduled in the future; “En Route” suggests that the aircraft is inbound to the airport. “Scheduled Departures” doesn’t suggest that the aircraft is outbound however. I filed a flight plan and it showed up under “Scheduled Departures”, fair enough, after takeoff my flight appeared under departures. Okay, I guess, except that two departure lists seem to mix scheduled both departures and aircraft recently departed.
I suggest you relabel the tables to clearly define what data is listed and insure that the data finds it’s way into the correct bin. I suggest the following for each of the four states: “Scheduled Arrivals”, “Enroute to xxxx” or “Inbound to xxxx”, “Scheduled Departures”, and “Outbound from xxxx”.
The track log is a nice feature, but additional data is needed to make it really useful. I’m planning on moving the track data to a mapping tool or a Google Earth type of system. The time hacks and the position reports don’t provide enough granularity. Showing seconds for both the time and position fields would be an improvement. Decimal degrees would be acceptable as well. Looking at one of my track logs today, there were multiple hits listing the same time and position. The altitude changed, so I know something happened. Providing a way to download a CSV file would be a real bonus. Track files could then be harvested easier.
Overlaying the maps with NFDC data would be a real help in analysis. Layering the display to selectivly display/hide them would be helpful as well. I’ve just started working with an Open Source mapping product called MapServer. I envision overlaying tracks on actual sectional or instrument charts, satellite imagery (another area I’ve worked in extensively), basic topography maps, etc.
Missing flights. I’ve seen many posts about missing flights, but this one I can confirm. On November 6-8, I flew N3238Y from KJYO-KCEU-KTYS-KCUB-KBUY-KJYO. I flew IFR for every leg. The KCEU-KTYS-KCUB legs are missing.
Bug?: You can’t enter a single-digit tail number such as N1 in the “Track Any Flight” textbox.
Keep up the excellent work.