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Explainer: How do aircraft tracking sites do their job?

Even before official confirmation of the crash of a China Eastern flight, aviation geeks and experts were on flight tracking websites for a glimpse of the flight’s fatal descent. Moneycontrol explains how these websites work.

March 27, 2022 / 12:45 PM IST
China Eastern Airlines plane crash: Flight Mu5735 did not have any survivors. (Image: ChinaAvReview/Twitter)

China Eastern Airlines plane crash: Flight Mu5735 did not have any survivors. (Image: ChinaAvReview/Twitter)

On March 21, a China Eastern Airlines domestic flight, on its way from Kunming to Guangzhou, descended sharply in mid-flight and crashed, killing all 123 passengers and nine crew.

Without any survivors, the focus was on retrieving the so-called black box – an orange-coloured box that contains flight data and the cockpit voice recorder.

Even before the crash was officially confirmed and CCTV videos started doing the rounds, aviation geeks and experts took to flight tracking websites like FlightRadar24 to see the plane’s sharp dive from 29,000 feet.

There have been times when an aviation incident or accident has taken place and FlightRadar24 or similar websites like FlightAware or RadarBox have had to say they were not tracking the particular flight at the time it occurred.