FlightAware Discussions

Tracking Drones, is it possible?

Hello everybody, is there a possibility to track drones using ADS-B antenna from flight feeder ? If i have a MLAT make this thing more easy or it is impossible?

It’s relatively uncommon for drones to have a transponder. What’s the drone equipped with?

It is nothing about your Antenna or MLAT.

The drone needs to have a transponder. If not, it is impossible

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Depends on what you mean by drone.

If you don’t mean one of the bigger military drones, it won’t have a transponder.
Even those won’t be operating the transponder unless they want to cooperate with civilian ATC or think it’s useful for TCAS purpose because there are civilian airliners close by.


In the USA drones weighing under 25 kilograms (55 pounds) are operating per FAA Part 107 regulations. The drone must be flown below 400 feet above the ground and no transponder is required. They are “invisible” to ATC Interrogators and to TCAS.

As residential drone deliveries become more common, they’ll probably monitor drone positions through the cell towers so you can track your package on your phone.

Why would that be better than a GPS module?

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Both would be used but instead of the positional data getting relayed to the ground by GPS+ADS-B for higher flying aircraft, the lower-flying drones would use GPS+Cell Towers.

Location by cell tower is useful when you are inside or have a poor view of the sky

Well, drones don’t fly well inside houses.

I guess the complete sentence should be “Drone position acquired via internal GPS will be sent using LTE or 5G cell towers back to the drone control center and from here over the internet to the delivery person”.

There will be no need of ADS-B or UAT on those delivery drones.


In the USA drone operations inside Class B, C and D airspace (basically: near major airports) is heavily restricted.

See FAA Drone Airspace for some info.

In the bright future with swarms of delivery drones plying their routes something will have to change — airspace or equipment— to keep drones and aircraft separated.