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Make SpotterLead Great Again! Major Updates #1 of 3: Flight Schedules

Yaay! We are extremely proud to announce release of 3 major updates to our planespotter timetables which will make it even more useful. We are going to publish announcements gradually during following few days not to spam you a lot 🙂

Today we are going to give you an overview of the most anticipated update of our system since quite a long while.

Flight Schedules

Before now we always aggregated flight data from various sources like airport sites providing live updates for flights. However, delivering flights for each airport is time-consuming (why?) and available time range is often limited to 24 hours ahead, so we were always looking for a way to provide better awareness of aircraft movements in more airports at lesser costs without going into usage of expensive APIs (which would certainly make us to make our service commercial).

Flight schedules as any other timetable gives you a more overall look on flights but without providing live updates.

By utilizing free-of-charge Yandex Timetable API we managed to introduce a sub-system that allows to retrieve schedules for any airport without spending enormous amounts of time on creating and maintaining individual per-airport data polling algorithms. We just add a record about airport into a database and that’s it: flights are picked up automatically and become visible on a designated planespotter-timetable page as well as they did for airports with live updates!

Pros

  • Adding new airport is extremely fast, henceforth allowing increasing airport coverage dramatically.
  • Ability to provide much longer flight data lookup in future (currently it’s 3 days, but soon we are going to gradually increase this limitation).
  • Flights from schedules may be gracefully integrated with flights which are updated live, so all the airports having live updates now have automatic support of timetables. You also can see schedule flights on the same planespotter timetable page as previously for your airport – you don’t have to look for them separately!
  • As a consequence of previous two advantages: flight search page now able to display information about flight combining data from live and non-live sources with a lookup of up to 3 days ahead.

Cons

  • Data might be not as precise as for airports with live updates and also may be obsolete as Yandex gets this data from its partners which are not always punctual on updates, so schedules might be used to estimate aircraft movements approximately, but not more than that.
  • There are no live flight updates for flights retrieved from schedules: schedules are not updated according to actual flight status. Exception is only for airports which also have live updates (Flights Live) implemented. In this case, scheduled flights would be automatically updated with a live status as soon as this information appears on airport site.
  • We still have to respect usage of the Yandex Timetable API as well as we should respect current performance limit of the servers, so we cannot instantly add all of the airports of the world, but we are going to gradually increase the number of airports and simultaneously optimize operationability of our system.

Airports with Flight Schedules

All the 200 of live airports we had before are now equipped with flight schedule support.

Moreover, for testing purposes we also added 36 more airports, which are listed below:

  1. Los Angeles (KLAX / LAX)
  2. San Francisco (KSFO / SFO)
  3. Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta (KATL / ATL)
  4. Chicago Chicago O’Hare (KORD / ORD)
  5. New York John F Kennedy (KJFK / JFK)
  6. Reykjavík Keflavik (BIKF / KEF)
  7. Düsseldorf (EDDL / DUS)
  8. Hannover (EDDV / HAJ)
  9. Tallinn Lennart Meri Tallinn (EETN / TLL)
  10. Maastricht Aachen (EHBK / MST)
  11. Groningen Eelde (EHGG / GRQ)
  12. Dublin (EIDW / DUB)
  13. Riga (EVRA / RIX)
  14. Vilnius (EYVI / VNO)
  15. Paris Charles de Gaulle (LFPG / CDG)
  16. Paris Paris-Orly (LFPO / ORY)
  17. Hurghada (HEGN / HRG)
  18. Tokyo (RJTT / HND)
  19. Athens Eleftherios Venizelos (LGAV / ATH)
  20. Kerkyra Island Ioannis Kapodistrias (LGKR / CFU)
  21. Milan Malpensa (LIMC / MXP)
  22. Rome Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino (LIRF / FCO)
  23. Istanbul Atatürk (LTBA / IST)
  24. Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen (LTFJ / SAW)
  25. Tokyo Narita (RJAA / NRT)
  26. Moscow Zhukovsky (UUBW / ZIA)
  27. Kaliningrad Khrabrovo (UMKK / KGD)
  28. Arkhangelsk Talagi (ULAA / ARH)
  29. Barnaul (UNBB / BAX)
  30. Yakutsk (UEEE / YKS)
  31. Anadyr Ugolny (UHMA / DYR)
  32. Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky Yelizovo (UHPP / PKC)
  33. Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (UHSS / UUS)
  34. Abakan (UNAA / ABA)
  35. Omsk Central (UNOO / OMS)
  36. Norilsk Alykel (UOOO / NSK)

Please keep in mind that these airports have schedules only supported. Live flights updates are not available for these!

You can find you planespotting timetable in its previous location by choosing your country on the main page of SpotterLead: https://spotterlead.net.

How do I know now which timetables / flights live and which are just scheduled?

That’s a good question. For distinguishing those we use a special icon: feed, which means that whatever content you are looking at, it has live updates. And if there is no such icon: it’s a static (scheduled) data.

Although we tried to make usage of this indication as clear as possible, it might confuse you if you got used to the old look of our service. Here we would like to give some explanation of how it works on actual examples:

tutor1
“Live” indication on the main page
tutor2
“Live” indication on the country spotting page
tutor3
“Live” indication on the airports per country page
tutor4
“Live” indication on the flight search page
tutor5
“Live” indication on the planespotting timetable page
tutor6
“Live” indication on the planespotting timetable page

 Conclusion

That’s roughly it. We hove you will enjoy this new feature as soon we are going to add much more airports. Stay tuned and tomorrow we will tell about another major update we introduced to these planespotting timetables (the most attentive users might already noticed it on our screenshots).

See you tomorrow 🙂

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