Google has announced the availability of a new data layer for Google Earth which shows all commercial flights currently above the US, with a slight delay in time. The flight tracking feature, which is a result of a collaboration with Flightwise.com, is a dynamically updating KML file of commercial flights over the U.S. The KML file is created from data available on the Flightwise website, which they collect from the FAA every few minutes.
All the planes currently in the air are depicted with a small blue icon indicating their position. Hovering the mouse over any aircraft reveals the airline operating it, its flight number and its flight path indicated by a light blue line. Clicking an icon yields an information-rich bubble showing more detailed flight information, including estimating arrival time.
Since all of this is in 3D you can even check out the altitude fluctuations as well as the path. This is both amazing and fun to watch.
You can click on the “Download flight path” link in the balloon to download the full KML tour of the flight so you can play back and rewind the flight up to its current position and see where it was at any point in time.
Because of FAA restrictions and timing of data pushes, the time of the data displayed will lag by an average of 15 or 20 minutes behind the current time. You can save the layer to your “My Places” panel, keep it checked on, and it will auto-refresh every few minutes.
You can enjoy this layer without Google Earth, right in your browser, by visiting this page. You need to have the Google Earth browser plugin installed though.
[via Google Lat Long Blog]