Firehose is a FlightAware API for receiving streaming flight positions (e.g., RADAR, ADS-B, Mode S multilateration (MLAT), datalink, etc) as well as flight status data (e.g., flight plans, departure/arrival messages, flight updates) and surface movement positions.
This page defines a protocol for establishing a connection and receiving data from the Firehose interface.
If you have a question that is not answered by this document, please check our freqently asked questions to see if your topic has already been answered there before contacting your account representative for support.
All requests must include a username and FlightXML API Key (don't have one?).
In addition to obtaining an API Key, the user's account must be specially enabled by a FlightAware representative for access to the firehose service.
If you have a firewall that needs authorization, then please authorize both of the ranges:
A customer's application will connect via a TCP socket secured with Secure Socket Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) protocol to FlightAware.
The port for downlink connections will be 1501.
The hostname will be firehose.flightaware.com, unless FlightAware has instructed the customer otherwise.
On the downlink connection customer's application will send an initiation command followed by a newline character, to specify the credentials, time range,
and any filtering of messages to be provided, and both sides will keep the connection open indefinitely for FlightAware to
send messages to the customer as they become available. If an error in the syntax or credentials of the initiation command occurs, the firehose server will transmit an error message and disconnect.
The customer's application should be designed to detect socket disconnection and attempt to reconnect to the FlightAware server when necessary. It is also recommended to have an idle connection handler that will disconnect and reconnect if no messages have been received in the last 5 minutes. When reconnecting to the FlightAware server, the "pitr" or "range" initiation command can be used to resume playback from the pitr timestamp of the last received message, if desired.
An important initial diagnostic technique is to confirm your outbound network connectivity over the necessary port number. For testing and development purposes, the OpenSSL command-line tools can be used to
check the ability to open a SSL/TLS connection to FlightAware:
openssl s_client -host firehose.flightaware.com -port 1501 -tls1
If the connection is successfully established, OpenSSL will display the server's certificate information and then pause. Should it fail to connect, contact your network administrator to ensure that your application server has access to make outbound TCP connections on port 1501 to the FlightAware datacenter.
Initiation Command Syntax
Initiation Command Options
Keeping a Persistent Connection
- Network connectivity for long-lived network connections over the internet are not always reliable and will tend to stall or hang occasionally, beyond our control. Additionally, we can occasionally have internal network connections that might disrupt communications between our Firehose server and the internal messaging bus that might also cause this type of condition. Very long-lived Firehose connections do eventually need to be disconnected by our server-side (system updates, feed maintenance, resource leaks), but that condition should result in a "connection closed by peer" rather than a "series of end of lines". Be sure that your application has logic to handle the condition of the connection being actively closed by the server.
- Keeping a persistent connection open is the expected use-case. We also recommend disconnecting and reconnecting if you receive no data after an extended period of time. When reconnecting, using the "pitr" command to resume data from the timestamp that you last received is recommended.
- The maximum number of allowable connections for Firehose is two per user account. One connection is suggested for your production environment and one connection for your development environment. Additional connection licenses are available.
- Times are specified as POSIX time also known as UNIX epoch format. Specifically, the number of seconds since 00:00:00 UTC on 1 January 1970. If subsecond resolution is available, the time can be specified floating point. Otherwise the value should be an integer. For example, 1375117735.797 is Monday 29 July 2013 17:08:55.797.
- The latency of the connection can be monitored by comparing the difference between "pitr" value and your system's current UTC time. When your application is caught up and following live data, the difference should generally be less than 15 seconds. If you observe that the difference continues to increase rather than decrease and remain less than 15, then that is an indication that your application is not able to process the datafeed quickly enough and you need to investigate ways of improving its performance.
- When requesting surface movement (ground_position or vehicle_position) messages, you will be prevented from also requesting any non-surface messages in the same initiation command. If you are developing an application that requires the ability to receive both types of messages simultaneously, you will currently need to open two separate Firehose connections and fuse the data within your application.
- For technical/commercial support for Firehose, please contact Max Tribolet (email).
Your access level will consist of any combination of the following data layers:
- ADS-B: Worldwide
- MLAT: Worldwide
- RADAR: USA, Canada, New Zealand, *Australia, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatamala, Honduras, Nicaragua
- Transoceanic/ACARS/Estimated: Worldwide
- FLIFO (Flight Status): Worldwide
[Flightplan, Departure, Arrival, and Cancellation messages]
- Block Events: Worldwide
[Offblock and Onblock messages]
- Surface Movement: Most major USA airports (ASDE-X and ADS-B), Worldwide (ADS-B only)
[Ground_position and Vehicle_position messages]
Please ask a FlightAware representative if you would like access to additional data layers. Firehose is billed at a monthly rate for unlimited use, dependent on what data layers you choose to access and the scope of how you repurpose/redistribute the data within your application. Discounts are available for long-term commitment, up-front payment, and/or public attribution to FlightAware.
Firehose can also be used in conjunction with FlightAware Global for added satellite uplinks and EUROCONTROL data. Other aircraft operator's data can be integrated as well: read about Improving Tracking of Your Flights on FlightAware.
*Australia RADAR and ADS-B is only available for internal consumption (e.g., not for redistribution to third parties beyond yourself).
For more information on FlightAware's position data coverage, please see FlightAware's coverage map.