Watching the skies

Remember last year, when we were all gleefully shaming Taylor Swift and Kylie Jenner for their exorbitant flying habits? That was fun, right? 

Well, unfortunately, that fun could be coming to an end.

What happened: Popular flight tracking platform ADS-B Exchange was bought by aviation intelligence firm JetNet (which, in turn, was also recently acquired by private equity firm Silversmith Capital Partners) in a deal speculated to cost US$20 million. 

  • Even if you haven’t heard of ADS-B Exchange before, chances are you’re familiar with its work. The platform is used to power the bot tracking Elon Musk’s private jet and offered up data for the viral report that blasted celebs for their private jet use.

  • Unlike other flight trackers, which limit certain data to paid subscribers and let jet owners pay to hide their info, ADS-B Exchange proudly keeps its data public.

ADS-B Exchange’s administrators revelled in the fact that it never hid flight info, thanks to a data sourcing method unique from other trackers. They were also proud that it was used for good, from providing regulators with data to even identifying global weapons smuggling

Why it matters: Dedicated users fear ADS-B Exchange’s new owner will sacrifice transparency for the sake of profitability, though JetNet’s CEO denies this. The platform helped flight tracking have a moment in the sun, but the sun might now be setting.