ADS-B Exchange

How to set up a connection to ADS-B Exchange

ADS-B Exchange currently offers two ways to connect to them for fetching tracking data:

  • As a subscription through RapidAPI, which requires you to register with RapidAPI, subscribe to ADSBEx's API and provide credit card details (details below), or

  • if you operate an ADS-B receive and are feeding ADS-B data to ADS-B Exchange, then you can request an API key directly from ADSBEx (details below)

Also, please see their usage Terms & Conditions. If interested in API details see their documentation.

I did my best to verify the information on this page, but I can't guarantee for it to be correct, complete, and always up-to-date. This all depends on how ADS-B Exchange offers the data and how RapidAPI works. Please also read their documentation, many links are provided throughout the document. It is their service in the end, not mine. But I am happy to correct things if you point them out, e.g. in the support forum.

This way has been introduced in May 2019 and has originally been designed with plugins like LiveTraffic in mind, which need only a very specific access to tracking data, namely aircraft in a defined radius around a center location. Please see the available subscription plans. There might be a free option to test the plan for a limited number of requests. For other plans there is a monthly subscription fee. All fees go to ADS-B Exchange. LiveTraffic and its author are not affiliated with ADS-B Exchange and I don't receive any gratitudes etc.

As of May 2019, all plans include a limited number of requests per month. If you exceed this quota then you pay for every single additional request made by LiveTraffic. This is why you have to provide credit card details even for the 0$ option.

LiveTraffic sends requests in regular intervals as configured in Live data refresh in the Advanced Settings. By default this is 20s or 3 requests per minute. If your quota is, say 360 requests per month, then this converts to 120 minutes = 2 hours of simulation time. Would you configure the refresh rate to be 10s, then LiveTraffic would send 6 requests per minute and the 360 request quota is emptied after just one hour. (See below regarding monitoring usage.)

To connect to ADS-B Exchange via RapidAPI do as follows:

  1. Register with RapidAPI, click on the "Sign up" link on their homepage and follow instructions for creating an account. Registration by itself is free.

  2. Go to the ADSBEx API pricing page and select a plan by clicking its "Subscribe" button. You will be asked for credit card details. (Tip: The last field is for your zip / post code.)

  3. Once you are subscribed go to the "Endpoints" page of the ADSBEx API and find you API key in the field X-RapidAPI-Key consisting of a long series of digits and letters:

  4. Back in LiveTraffic, enter this key into the Basic Settings as the ADS-B Exchange API Key. And sorry...X-Plane offers no pasting from the clipboard...you have to type it, character by character. Press [Enter] when done and LiveTraffic immediately sends a first request to ADSBEx to verify if the key works. You will see a success or failure message in the message area:

ADS-B Exchange key verified successfully, number remaining requests shown

Also, the number of remaining requests as per your subscription plan's quota is shown (red arrow in screenshot above).

Now you can re-enable the ADS-B Exchange channel and (re-)activate Show Live Aircraft, so that LiveTraffic starts requesting tracking data from ADS-B Exchange.

Monitoring API Usage

LiveTraffic shows the number of remaining API requests of your monthly quota in the Basic Settings, see the above screenshot, the red arrow points to the numbers. This information is returned by RapidAPI with every network responce received. It is not tracked by LiveTraffic. It really is RapidAPI's information. Hence it should be fairly accurate.

You can (and probably should) also monitor your usage directly at RapidAPI. RapidAPI has some documentation on monitoring API usage.

API Key directly from ADS-B Exchange

You can request an API key directly from ADS-B Exchange if and only if you are actively feeding ADS-B data into the ADS-B network by operating your own ADS-B receiver. ADS-B Exchange offers help on how to set up receivers.

If you feed ADS-B Exchange, the go to https://www.adsbexchange.com/myip/, make a screenshot of the output, which contains details of what you feed to ADSBEx, and request a key from ADSBEx via their contact page.

You will receive a key currently in the format ########-####-####-####-############. Enter this key into the ADS-B Exchange, API Key field of Basic Settings. Once you hit [Enter] LiveTraffic sends a first request to ADSBEx to verify the key and you will see a Success or Failure notice in the message area just as in the screenshot above.

Now you can re-enable the ADS-B Exchange channel and (re-)activate Show Live Aircraft, so that LiveTraffic starts requesting tracking data from ADS-B Exchange.