Flight-tracking specialist FlightAware has been quietly building up a network of ground stations to capture surface movements at airports and recently began offering a subscription-based service with business aviation customers in mind.
"As we talked to business aviation operators, we learned they have a blind spot on the ground," said FlightAware founder and CEO Daniel Baker. "Late last year, we began upgrading all of these ground stations and expanded the number we have near airports. We are now tracking aircraft on the ground."
FlightAware (Booth C9212) tracks aircraft ground operations, once per second, at 225 airports "and growing every day," Baker said on Monday at NBAA 2017. The Surface Viewer system, fed by ground stations typically located within a few miles of an airport, recently left beta testing and is in use with "several large flight departments," Baker said. "The service is designed for someone with actual flight followers that are involved in the operations of every flight."
Tracking surface movements improves real-time situational awareness, but Baker sees far more potential. "We're not only providing visualization, but predictions on when the airplane is going to take off," Baker told AIN. "We can tell an FBO who has been on their ramp."
Specific applications will be developed as the company's network, which now numbers nearly 13,000 ground stations tracking both in-flight and surface operatons, continues to expand. "A few people are buying the [surface] data," Baker said. "We're in the mode of asking people, 'What do you want to see?'"