Because the skies are so expansive and airplanes fly at such high altitudes, you probably don’t spot more than a few flying machines on any given day (unless you live near an airport). So how many are actually in the sky ? On Wednesday, there were more than 225,000.
Flightradar24, a Swedish online service that monitors air traffic, tweeted that it registered more than 225,000 flights on Wednesday, July 24, between 12 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. It’s the highest number tracked in one day since the company’s inception in 2006, Business Insider reports.
The figure comprises most aircraft, including regular commercial passenger flights as well as cargo planes, helicopters, private jets, gliders, sightseeing flights, and personal aircraft. It omits most military flights, however, which metaphorically fly under the radar.
Flightradar24 compiles data from publicly available sources that aircraft use to report position and speed. One of those sources is a traditional radar system, and the other two are newer tracking technologies called Multilateration (MLAT) and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), where the in-flight transponder picks up the aircraft’s location from a GPS satellite and then transmits that information to Flightradar24’s receivers. MLAT requires four or more receivers and only works above about 3,000 to 10,000 feet, so ADS-B is the current best way to track location. It’s also the newest way, which means that not all aircraft are built with the transponder required to use it. That number is growing, though, which may be one of the reasons Flightradar24 was able to register so many flights on Wednesday.
Flightradar24 representative Ian Petchenik told Business Insider that another reason for Wednesday’s crowded skies is simply that there has been a steady rise in aircraft traffic over the years. Because of this increase, and because July and August are busy air traffic months in general, he predicted that the record could be broken again this week.
[h/t Business Insider]