The US government collects all sorts of data and some of it is even useful for AvGeeks, aerophiles and others who happen to obsess a little bit about what planes they’ve flown on. Specifically, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics happens to have a record of (nearly) every domestic flight since 1995 operated within the USA including the aircraft registration, often called the N-Number or Tail Number. The data as they host it is not particularly easy to query, unfortunately. You cannot just feed a route and date and get back results. At least not in their interface. I decided to do something about that.
Welcome to the BTS Tail Number Lookup tool from WATT.
Put in your parameters and it’ll give you back all the commercial flights from that date between the airports in question according to the data maintained by the feds:
The columns are sortable (just click on the headings) and if there are more than 50 you can go to the next page using the buttons at the bottom of the table.
I’m working on updating the AA entries to map from American’s internal tail numbers (what they file with the DoT for some reason) to the N-Number painted on the tail. That should be mostly accurate for the currently active fleet; retired planes are a lot harder to figure it out on so that might not actually happen. Also, I’m missing October 2000 to May 2001 because of issues in the initial data import. I should have that resolved in the not too distant future.
There are roughly 115 million rows of data being tracked right now and I’ll keep it updated on a monthly basis as BTS publishes additional reports. One thing to keep in mind is that the data is not real-time; they publish in monthly batches ~2-3 months after the flights happen.
If anyone has any other ideas of cool things to visualize with the data let me know; I’m always interested in trying to make fun things happen with big datasets like this.
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