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  #1  
Old 03-21-2021, 09:06 PM
donaziza's Avatar
donaziza donaziza is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 781
Default Flight Aware--Good/Bad

Got a question for you guys about FlightAware. Now don't everyone jump on me, I'm just politely asking. Seems like a great big invasion of privacy of a private VFR operator to me. If you read their own words, they say its not. I don't agree with a word of what they say. Now, if one goes down somewhere, yeah, then it would be a good deal to help being found. If a guy puts his ADS B in anonymous mode, will it stop FlightAware??
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  #2  
Old 03-21-2021, 09:20 PM
SPX SPX is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: San Diego
Posts: 520
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donaziza View Post
Got a question for you guys about FlightAware. Now don't everyone jump on me, I'm just politely asking. Seems like a great big invasion of privacy of a private VFR operator to me. If you read their own words, they say its not. I don't agree with a word of what they say. Now, if one goes down somewhere, yeah, then it would be a good deal to help being found. If a guy puts his ADS B in anonymous mode, will it stop FlightAware??
If you've selected anonymous mode, and if you're squawking 1200, FlightAware will not track you.
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  #3  
Old 03-21-2021, 10:34 PM
JDeanda JDeanda is offline
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Ventura, CA
Posts: 235
Default FlightAware

I've seen ADS-B tracks on FlightAware that show "Private" instead of the tail number, so it seems that it tracks anonymous ADS-B signals, but nobody knows who they are. It may be that if the airplane is in the system, then it shows the anonymous track. I'll pay more attention, I think if it shows altitude in even thousands, then it's an IFR flight, if it's thousands + 500 feet, VFR. As for the privacy issue, an email circulated just a few weeks ago on the local airport group from the local Sheriff's office, naming a guy who lives nearby and has been sending threatening emails to pilots who fly over his house, including the pilots' addresses. The deputy said right up front that the guy (named Ryan, ironically) was getting the info from the internet. Not sure what software he was using, but we all know it's real easy for anyone with a computer and an internet connexion to get that info. Conversely, it was easy for me to find his address, too, not that the info is very useful. But yeah, we've lost a good deal of privacy to the ADS-B mandate and the appearance of free tracking software. Keep in mind that the internet has been a resource anybody who can read a tail number and wants to know who owns 'that airplane' for decades. Not so easy with an automotive license plates.

Last edited by JDeanda : 03-21-2021 at 10:39 PM.
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  #4  
Old 03-21-2021, 11:37 PM
jliltd jliltd is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Rancho San Lorenzo
Posts: 1,008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donaziza View Post
Got a question for you guys about FlightAware. Now don't everyone jump on me, I'm just politely asking. Seems like a great big invasion of privacy of a private VFR operator to me. If you read their own words, they say its not. I don't agree with a word of what they say. Now, if one goes down somewhere, yeah, then it would be a good deal to help being found. If a guy puts his ADS B in anonymous mode, will it stop FlightAware??
Great questions indeed and they highlight a true concern. If your ADS-B "out" solution is 1090 ES based then the aircraft owner's information is freely and readily available to all comers. Traditionally FlightAware tracks 1090ES but lately has started to also track UAT 978 equipped aircraft. If you are using UAT and are squawking VFR with "anonymous mode" enabled, then everybody can still track your target for see and avoid but the target will not disclose the aircraft owner's personal information (not even to the gubmit'). In the case of the GDL 82 and FreeFlight Rangr UAT your target is overlaid with "VFR" for ID instead of your registration information. If you have some of the uAvionix UAT equipment it will show as "Ping" something for ID.

More detail. ADS-B equipment with the UAT "out" frequency mode can provide for anonymous mode when paired with a Mode C transponder. When UAT equipment has anonymous mode enabled the equipment creates a randomized ICAO code internally so the aircraft position and performance data is transmitted with this randomized ICAO code. Since this happens onboard the aircraft without outside influence the anonymous mode privacy process does not give the ADS-B network the ability to figure out the aircraft owner's information in any way, shape or form. Not withstanding this keep in mind that just because UAT anonymous doesn't give the FAA's ADS-B network the target's owner information in real time doesn't mean they don't have more than a few other ways to track you down if you break FARs or engage in illegal activity. And if this type of privacy is important to you investigate how specific equipment deals with and engages anonymous mode. Some do it immediately on start up (better) and others require the unit to be pinged by ADS-B towers or other traffic prior to changing over to anonymous (worse).

The FAA has recently started offering call sign privacy for 1090ES but that option depends on the data being processed within the FAA ADS-B system, rather than by ADS-B equipment onboard the aircraft. Unlike UAT this 1090ES option doesn't hide the aircraft's ICAO code from individual ADS-B receivers in the field, it just replaces the N Number registration code with a pre-assigned authorized call sign. This option also requires the aircraft owner contract with a private 3rd party registration service ($$) to get a call sign and change it at regular intervals to keep more privacy. So 1090ES does not and cannot provide true privacy.

For true privacy it's hard to beat skipping over fancy new 1090ES transponders and staying with legacy Mode C paired with compliant stand-alone UAT equipment. And this is also the least expensive way to equip.

I have two FlighAware Flight Feeders at my airport. I am what FlightAware calls a "Feeder". One of the feeders is for 1090ES monitoring and the other is a brand new unit monitoring 978 UAT frequency traffic. So while I a true advocate for privacy I also mercilessly expose aircraft owner information of those without anonymous mode.
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Last edited by jliltd : 03-21-2021 at 11:41 PM.
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  #5  
Old 03-22-2021, 12:03 AM
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donaziza donaziza is offline
 
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Location: Atlanta
Posts: 781
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I've got a uAvionix 978 UAT, and a Garmin 327 transponder. Two weeks ago, my local tower "was" reporting that all they could see on their radar, (for me), "was ping". Couldn't figure out what was wrong. Of course, it turned out I was in anonymous mode from the control on my cell phone. I'm not doing anything wrong, just don't like Big brother watching me. Also, its showing me at 7200 ft, one way, and 8200 coming back, so I guess its using pressure altitude. ( I was at 7500 ft indicated going, and 8500 coming back)

For the 1090 Airlines, its of course a different story.

Last edited by donaziza : 03-22-2021 at 12:17 AM.
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  #6  
Old 03-22-2021, 06:13 AM
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MacCool MacCool is offline
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: central Minnesota
Posts: 527
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donaziza View Post
I've got a uAvionix 978 UAT, and a Garmin 327 transponder. Two weeks ago, my local tower "was" reporting that all they could see on their radar, (for me), "was ping". Couldn't figure out what was wrong. Of course, it turned out I was in anonymous mode from the control on my cell phone. I'm not doing anything wrong, just don't like Big brother watching me. Also, its showing me at 7200 ft, one way, and 8200 coming back, so I guess its using pressure altitude. ( I was at 7500 ft indicated going, and 8500 coming back)

For the 1090 Airlines, its of course a different story.
I have the same setup. The UAvionix app lets me toggle in and out of anonymous mode easily using my iPhone. Between my EchoUAT, my AFS5400 EFIS, and various GoPros, I have a pretty busy little WiFi hub up there.
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  #7  
Old 03-22-2021, 06:56 AM
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scrollF4 scrollF4 is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Flower Mound, TX
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donaziza View Post
Got a question for you guys about FlightAware. Now don't everyone jump on me, I'm just politely asking. Seems like a great big invasion of privacy of a private VFR operator to me. If you read their own words, they say its not. I don't agree with a word of what they say. Now, if one goes down somewhere, yeah, then it would be a good deal to help being found. If a guy puts his ADS B in anonymous mode, will it stop FlightAware??
OR...

You can send the following email to the FAA at asdiblock@faa.gov. Their response was very prompt. This doesn't 'turn off' ADS-B, but they no longer share my info with FlightAware or any of the other 'Awares'. If you search for N260KM on FlightAware, you get this: "Error: This flight is restricted from public viewing." Of course, that feed stays off until/unless you send another request to have it turned on.

------

Hello.
I am the owner of aircraft N260KM (Mayeux RV-7A) and I request that my ASDI information be blocked.
Please block at the Industry level.

Thank you,
[ name ]
[ address ]
[ address ]
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Scroll

Sid "Scroll" Mayeux, Col, USAF (ret)
52F NW Regional/Aero Valley Airport, Roanoke TX (home of DR's Van Cave)
"KELLI GIRL" N260KM RV-7A tipper
Catch her on YouTube's "Because I Fly!" channel

Exemption waived.
Proud and grateful 2021 -=VAF=- Contributor

PS: I am not an influencer. I have no influence. Just ask my kids.
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  #8  
Old 03-22-2021, 07:33 AM
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rvanstory rvanstory is offline
 
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Location: New Braunfels
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Is FlightAware good or bad? Like most things, it's both. One has to decide which side they value most. One one side, you lose privacy. On the other side you gain visibility so others can know where you are at all times.

My family loves having the ability to track me if they are not flying with me. Plus, if I do go down, it's comforting to know this tool is out there to assist in finding me.

However, I was made very aware of the loss of privacy when I got a message from someone that saw a picture of my plane on this website, saw I was making a trip to their area via my trail number and FlightAware, knew which airport I landed at, went into hangar to "admire" my plane, all without me knowing it!!!! I was flattered that someone wanted to see my plane in person, but it did feel a little weird knowing I was so easy to track by someone I've never met or talked to.

So, it's both good and bad. I am choosing to give up the privacy for the benefits. I totally see why others may choose differently than me. Good you know you do have options to choose either way!
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  #9  
Old 03-22-2021, 08:07 AM
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N546RV N546RV is offline
 
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Location: Brookshire, TX
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scrollF4 View Post
OR...

You can send the following email to the FAA at asdiblock@faa.gov. Their response was very prompt. This doesn't 'turn off' ADS-B, but they no longer share my info with FlightAware or any of the other 'Awares'.
It's worth noting, however, that this is an incomplete solution. Technically, getting your tail # on the block list only affects flight-tracking sites that make use of the FAA-provided position data, and it also only affects that specific data. Which is to say, position data pulled out of thin air by receiver devices is unaffected by the FAA block list.

What this means is that FlightAware could legally still provide tracking for your blocked aircraft, so long as it didn't make use of FAA-provided position data. However, they respect your obvious wishes to not be tracked by the general public, which is why your aircraft remains untrackable.

The reason this is worth noting is that not every tracker service takes this position. Perhaps the most notorious is ADS-B Exchange, essentially a community-based tracking service that does not deal with the FAA and explicitly (and proudly) rejects any notion of privacy.

The upcoming PIA program (what jliltd has mentioned) is a more perfect solution for this problem, but it's not free like the block list due to the requirement to use a third-party callsign.
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  #10  
Old 03-22-2021, 10:18 AM
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airguy airguy is offline
 
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Location: Garden City, Tx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rvanstory View Post
Is FlightAware good or bad? Like most things, it's both. One has to decide which side they value most. One one side, you lose privacy. On the other side you gain visibility so others can know where you are at all times.

My family loves having the ability to track me if they are not flying with me. Plus, if I do go down, it's comforting to know this tool is out there to assist in finding me.

However, I was made very aware of the loss of privacy when I got a message from someone that saw a picture of my plane on this website, saw I was making a trip to their area via my trail number and FlightAware, knew which airport I landed at, went into hangar to "admire" my plane, all without me knowing it!!!! I was flattered that someone wanted to see my plane in person, but it did feel a little weird knowing I was so easy to track by someone I've never met or talked to.

So, it's both good and bad. I am choosing to give up the privacy for the benefits. I totally see why others may choose differently than me. Good you know you do have options to choose either way!
I ran into an example of the good side of this last year - very similar story to yours, the guy showed up to look at my airplane after I flew in for work. I guess he liked what he saw because he looked me up from from the registration info, called me and started asking questions about the Vans series in general and the 9A specifically, and wanted to know if there was any chance I would take him up for a demo flight. A few weeks later I did one better and gave him right seat for a XC from Midland to Houston for a builders lunch down there to meet some of the other guys, and the hook was set. Within a month he had located a partially built kit for sale and bought it. He's nearing completion on it now, wiring the panel currently.

But yes, you are not alone in seeing the nefarious side of it as well - it's real.
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Built an off-plan RV9A with too much fuel and too much HP. Should drop dead any minute now.
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