Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Who is the OpenSky Network?

The OpenSky Network was initiated in 2012 by researchers from armasuisse (Switzerland), University of Kaiserslautern (Germany), and University of Oxford (UK). The objective was (and still is!) to provide high quality air traffic data to researchers. By now, the OpenSky Network has become a non-profit association based in Switzerland and is supported by a growing number of contibutors from industry and academia. Researchers from different areas are using the data that is provided by people from all around the world.

Where do we get our data from?

The technology which is used by the OpenSky Network is the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). The ADS-B allows airplanes to determine their position and velocity using GPS. Airplanes then periodically broadcast this and other information on the 1090 MHz radio frequency. To obtain this valuable information at a large scale, we operate a network of ADS-B receivers around the globe and harvest the data via the Internet. Our receivers are sponsored or hosted by private people, industrial partners, and academic/governmental organizations. If you would like to support the project by becoming a contributor or receiver host, please refer to this article.

I want coverage in my area! What can I do?

The first thing you need is an ADS-B receiver. At the moment, we support the following devices: Radarcape, dump1090-based receivers (mutability and antirez forks), and SBS-3. In case you do not own such a device but you have access to a location with power supply, permanent Internet connection, a good line of sight in all directions and you are willing to host one of our devices for free, please refer to this article for more information. Once you obtain one of the listed devices, you need a free account for this website. You can simply create one by registering here. After logging in, you can add your receiver in the My OpenSky>Receiver Profile. After approval by one of our admins, your receivers automatically starts streaming the data to our servers. In case it remains offline, please check the receiver's setup, Internet connection, or contact us for further support.

What will happen with the data I stream to OpenSky?

We store all the data which is received by your receiver on our servers. The data includes reception timestamps, the position of the receiver, and the raw ADS-B message. We use this data to generate live views and calculate statistics. In addition, we share the data with researchers, and other networks. For examples on how they use they use the data, see the list of publications. Please note: if you do not tick the Anonymize-box in your receiver settings (see My OpenSky>Receiver Profile), the receiver's location will appear in the raw shared data. For more details, please check the data sample provided on github and have a look at our Terms of Use. If you have a different receiver device or your organization wants to share any other data with us, please contact us and we can work on a solution with you.

How can I get access to OpenSky's data?

In principle, everyone can have access to the data. However, we preserve the right to control this access and in particular, to refuse access if we think the application is for example not ethical. You can apply for access by contacting us and giving us a brief description of how you will use the data and what data you need. Please note that in any case, you need an account for our platform to get access to the data. We usually subtract the data of interest from the dataset and provide only fixed dumps. Access to the full dataset is currently only supported via an Impala shell and can be used to calculate statistics or perform direct searches with small result sets.

Is there a live API?

Yes there is! Just read this as a starting point. We have language bindings for Python and Java. The API also supports retrieving historical data (within some limitations though!). Feel free to use it and if you have any problems, questions, bug reports, or ideas, please use our forum and let us know.

I used OpenSky data for my research. Can I publish the results?

Absolutely! We are happy to see and share the value of our Network. Please note that if you used our data, you must credit us by referencing us as the data source according to our Terms of Use. Also, in case you published your results in form of a scientific publication, we would like to add it to our publications list.

Can I share the data with my colleagues?

Yes you can, as long as your colleagues work in the same organization and only assist you with working on the project you mentioned in your application for the data. In case your colleagues want to use the data for a different project or organization, they also have to apply for the data (see "How can I get access to OpenSky's data?"). Please refer to our Terms of Use for more information. If your case remains unclear, we are happy to answer additional questions. Please use our contact form.

Can I use graphs and information from OpenSky for my publications, talks, or website?

Yes! Sharing is caring and the OpenSky Network's philosophy is to give back as much as possible to the world. If you use any information of the OpenSky network, we would highly appreciate being credited with providing the information.

The uptime of my receiver never exceeds 24h! Why?

This can have many reasons. One common cause is that most Internet providers reset connections once during the night. This results in a short disruption of the receiver's connection to our servers. However, this distruption should not last longer than a couple of minutes. In case you observe longer outages, please contact us and we will help you to identify and resolve the problem.

Where do the long spikes in the range of my receiver come from?

Some airplanes transmit false or erroneous positions. Since we rely on the airplanes position reports for determining the range of a receiver, such erroneous position reports can result in wrong measurements for certain directions. The result is spikes in the ranges. Although we perform a lot filtering and reasonableness tests already, some of the bad position reports pass anyway.

Which data can OpenSky provide?

Currently, the OpenSky network only monitors the 1090 MHz SSR Mode S downlink channel, including ADS-B. This means that we can provide on the one hand low-level data (down to single transponder transmissions) and on the other hand high-level tracking data of the form "at date and time T, aircraft A was at position X and altitude Y and moved into direction D at a speed of V". We do not maintain an aircraft, flights, or airport database, so we cannot give any information on e.g. delays. However, by combining our data with other data sources, such information could be inferred.