Where is the line?: Billionaires are outraged that they track their air travel

PublishedAugust 7, 2022, 09:38 am

Where is the limit?Billionaires Annoyed by Their Air Travel Tracking

How to annoy both high-ranking Chinese officials, Elon Musk and Kylie Jenner? Tracking their private jets. Websites and Twitter accounts that track air traffic in real time are discussed.

How to annoy both high-ranking Chinese officials, Elon Musk and Kylie Jenner? Track their private jets. Sites and Twitter accounts that monitor air traffic in real time provoke epidermal reactions, from simple complaints to confiscation of equipment. Every year, Russian air cargo carriers, Saudi Arabian aircraft owners and others ask Dan Streufert, founder of the American flight tracking website ADS-B Exchange, to stop posting their movements. Unsuccessfully.

“We haven’t removed anything yet. This is public information. And I don’t want to be the arbiter who decides who is right and who is wrong,” explains Mr. Streufert. There are some restrictions, but flight path reconstruction groups note that the primary source of information is legally available and available to anyone with the right equipment.

Elon Musk travel account

US law requires aircraft in certain areas to be equipped with the ADS-B satellite system, which periodically relays the aircraft’s position to air traffic controllers. A site like Flightradar24 has 34,000 ground receivers around the world that can receive such signals, data sent to a central network and correlated with flight schedules and other aircraft information.

Identifying the plane’s owner is another matter, according to 19-year-old Jack Sweeney, the creator of the Celebrity Jets Twitter account, who unearthed Elon Musk’s private jet after requesting information from US government public archives. Tesla’s boss offered him $5,000 to bury the “ElonJet” account, with over 480,000 followers, that tracks all the movements of the multi-billionaire’s plane.

“The data is already there”

“He has such a great interest, I do something that works. People love to watch what celebrities do and also about emissions,” Sweeney told AFP, referring to the outrage over the carbon footprint of aircraft. Posting this kind of information on Twitter “makes it easier for people to access and understand it,” he adds. In July, the Celebrity Jets account reported that reality TV star Kylie Jenner boarded a private jet for a 17-minute flight to California, sparking a social media uproar.

“They tell us working class people to feel guilty about our yearly flight on a much needed vacation while these celebrities ride private jets every other day like it’s Uber,” one user ranted. Neither Mr. Sweeney nor Mr. Streufert mentioned a red line they did not want to cross regarding the publication of air routes. “The data is already there. I just distribute them,” says Jack Sweeney.

This activity also generates income, even if it is difficult to estimate. Dan Streufert admits he makes a living this way but refuses to go into details, while Sweeney says his flight-tracking accounts make him about $100 a month. Flightradar24 does not report its turnover.


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