Under the radar?

Sometimes, when i hear and see a plane flying over my house, it does not show up on the radar. Even if there is a 5 minute delay, i should at least be able to see where the flight is heading before it goes over me. Also I often see specks on the radar that dont show any information and do not move.

Is the abscence of aircaft appearing over my location on the radar due to the lack of a flightplan and are flying VFR?

That’s almost definitely what you’re seeing.

is there a limit to what FW can track? I always thought it tracked all aircraft that had an identifier. But now im seeing way more aircraft flying over me that arent even aknowledged by FW. Is there a certain altitude limit to which these planes can be tracked?

Also, why doesnt FW show planes without filed flightplans, even if they are in the air and are still required to talk to ATC?

FlightAware can track any* IFR flight and some VFR flights receiving flight following. Many non-jet aircraft fly VFR without flight following; we will not receive the position of those. There is no minimum or maximum altitude, as long as ATC radar can see the aircraft we can track it.

Without filed flight plans we don’t know where the aircraft came from, where it is headed to, when it took off, or when it will arrive. If we receive position data for an aircraft that is flying VFR, we will display the aircraft on airport maps and, if the aircraft has a flight page (from a previous IFR flight) it will also appear on the map there.

  • Excluding military, blocked registrations, etc.

I thought this would be helpful. When I monitor Toronto Center ATC, all aircrafts drop off radar coverage at below 10 000 feet. When the 6 min delay rounds up, sure enough, the Flight Aware’s IFR target disappears too. If you’re in a non-radar environment, this website literally works like ATC radar, where the targets disappear.

When I monitor Toronto Center ATC, all aircrafts drop off radar coverage at below 10 000 feet.

Hmmmm. Does such an aircraft just disappear off all radar screens, or does it just transition from high-altitude ATC’s radar screen to the airport tower radar screen?

It doesn’t seem reasonable to me that no one is seeing any planes below 10,000 feet in an area as busy as the Toronto airport. [Are Toronto and Montreal not the two busiest airports in Canada?] The potential for near-collisions is just too great to think that there would be no radar coverage at all below 10,000 feet. That would blow my mind.

No no… hehe. It’s not Toronto, I live in Timmins Ontario (CYTS) where radar coverage is scarce, since the ATC radar is based at Hearst, where you’re lucky to get one or two flights in a day. Whenever Jazz or Bearskin leave Timmins to travel to Sudbury or Toronto, they don’t appear on radar with Toronto until they’re 10 000 feet in the climb. Below that is all non radar. When I hear ATC indicate “radar service is now terminated, report 20 DME (nautical miles) from Timmins”, 6 min’s later, that target drops off the Flyaware website screen. During evenings and weekends when I get to hear the Sudbury (CYSB) and North Bay (CYYB) traffic, say they’re in a hold, you’ll see them targets leaving circular trails until the aircraft has landed, same with Toronto. Hope that helps :smiley:

It looks like you’re right about Timmons (CYTS), Jonathan7. I wanted to find an arriving flight with a flight track showing altitude < 10000. Without exception, arrivals into CYTS are shown as “results unknown” and there is no associated flight track. (The rare case where an arrival time is reported is an obvious error, like involving 16-hour flight times for a Canadian domestic flight.) Similarly, I couldn’t find a good flight track showing departure altitudes < 10000 for flights originating at CYTS.

The disadvantage about non radar is ATC uses time and distance and has to follow by rules for approaches into Timmins. I’ll talk about that next time :laughing: The rules are not as favorable in most instances, compared to radar environments.