Interesting to read the latest Daily Mail scare story today regarding the tracking of an Air Ambulance that happens to be piloted by the heir to the UK throne.
The Daily Mail have some history here – back in 2010 they were doing the same thing when Plane Finder released augmented reality aircraft tracking to the world.
It is pretty obvious that there aren’t too many surface to air missiles in the UK being carried around by would be terrorists. And even if they had one they wouldn’t use an iPhone to target the thing!
However the Daily Mail article does raise some interesting points.
Plane Finder were the first to release an aircraft tracking app back in 2009. We use data broadcast directly from the aircraft. This data is used throughout the aviation industry to increase efficiency and enhance safety. This technology benefits passengers, the environment and the economy.
The diagram below shows just how simple the technology is:
Since 2009 we have continued to develop and enhance our technical capabilities. This means that in theory we could track aircraft that operate outside of the sphere of normal commercial airspace – for example private aircraft, military planes and air ambulances.
Whilst in theory we could do this – the question is should we?
The short answer is no – we should not show everything that we can track and/or could potentially show.
At Plane Finder we realise that we have a responsibility to do the right thing. We aim to deliver the benefits of live flight tracking whilst working hard to ensure that our live feeds do not include data that could compromise national or regional security.
Whilst we won’t list here the flights that are blocked from our tracking system we actively review the aircraft that we are tracking and consider all requests to block aircraft from our systems.
At Plane Finder we work closely with the aviation industry and continue to evolve and adapt our technologies as the world changes. For example passengers can now use their mobile phone via WiFi on many flights. It is not just the aircraft that is broadcasting its location.
Turning the clock back to 2010 when the Daily Mail said of Plane Finder AR that “Security experts have slammed a £2 phone app which gives specific details about in-flight aircraft”. The answer is again no – they did not. It was a hyped media story designed to sell newspapers and advertising. Responsible aircraft tracking has an important role to play in the global economy and the safety and security of passengers worldwide.
At Plane Finder we will continue to deliver a quality, informative and yes – responsible, service to the millions of aviation professionals and passengers that use our apps and websites.