The purpose of real-time aircraft tracking depends on the party conducting the tracking, such as friends or family tracking the flight of a loved one or a business tracking a flight to create a schedule. Some parties also wish to introduce a more complex system of real-time flight tracking for safety purposes.
As of 2015, most commercial and private flights provide real time tracking through a combination of satellite and radar technology, which allow airports and other agencies to receive data to handle organization and scheduling for flights. The airports use this information to estimate the arrival times of flights and, in turn, set the departure times for subsequent flights. Some airlines also use this information to allow customers or other interested parties to check the arrival times of planes using the flight's identification number and destination city. Many third party websites maintain tools that convey the satellite and radar data on a map, featuring icons that represent flights in the area.
Though airlines typically experience low disaster rates thanks to these tracking methods, some parties seek to implement additional tracking and monitoring tools that allow the appropriate agencies to see the exact location of a flight at all times, even when it crashes. This is because the current technology only tracks the planes while they are in the air, as it relies on signals from internal systems to operate.