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Looking back at 2020

Happy New Year! From all of us at Flightradar24 we hope you’re healthy and safe and we wish you all the best in 2021. This week we’re looking back at 2020 in aviation—the good, the bad, and (mostly) the ugly.
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Our favorite conversations from 2020

In May we welcomed Jon Weisswasser on the podcast to discuss his Trifecta—landing at Newark, La Guardia, and JFK airports in a single flight. And we revisit out conversation with Steve Giordano, the person you call when you need a jet moved halfway around the world at a moment’s notice.
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MAJOR FLIGHT TRACKING MILESTONE
Satellite ADS-B coverage shown as blue icons vs yellow icons for terrestrial coverage
Space-based ADS-B available to everyone

In March the blue icons returned for good as we introduced space-based ADS-B tracking for all our users and became the only flight tracking service to offer satellite tracking to everyone. Satellite coverage allows us to track even more flights over remote areas like the ocean or deserts where terrestrial receivers are impossible.
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COVID HITS THE AVIATION INDUSTRY HARD
Chart showing total and commercial flights from January 2018 through December 2020
The bottom fell out 

In mid-March, airlines began canceling flights en masse amid a variety of border restrictions and by mid-April commercial flight traffic had dropped 73%. We’ve compiled all of our COVID-related coverage so far, including in-depth analyses from leading aviation consultancies relying on Flightradar24 data.
Read all our COVID coverage
Global air traffic difference between March and April
Visualizing the historic drop in traffic

While statistics tell an important part of the story, we wanted to visualize the effects of the historic drop in worldwide air traffic. Comparing March to April yielded these eye opening maps.
See all our traffic comparisons
OUR MOST-READ POST
Compilation of survey flight paths over the UK in April 2020
What is this plane doing!?

With the lack of regular commercial traffic, we started to get an influx of questions about seemingly odd flight paths, incorrect routes, and little gray cars—so we put together this helpful FAQ. It ended up being our most widely-read post of the year.
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AVIATION PHOTOS OF THE YEAR
A Qantas 747 makes a low pass over the Sydney Opera House for the final time.
The best of JetPhotos 2020

A look at the most popular and most memorable photos added to the JetPhotos catalog in 2020. A few firsts, a few lasts, and many pictures of aircraft waiting to get back in the air.
See the full set
MAJOR AVIATION INCIDENTS OF 2020
Ukrainian International Airlines 737 UR-PSR
Ukrainian International flight 752

On 8 January PS752 was shot down by Iranian missiles shortly after departure from Tehran.
PS752 data and preliminary reports
Flight path of N72EX, which crashed in Southern California
Kobe Bryant among those killed in helicopter crash

Kobe Bryant and his daughter were among the 9 people killed when the helicopter they were flying in crashed in the mountains outside Los Angeles on 26 January.
N72EX data and preliminary reports
Pakistan Airlines flight 8303 scraping its engines along the runway and the resulting scrape marks
Pakistan International Airlines flight 8303 crashes after scraping engines on the runway

On 22 May, PK8303 crashed near Karachi Airport following an accidental gear-up landing attempt and subsequent go-around attempt during which both engines failed.
PK8303 data and preliminary reports
MOST TRACKED FLIGHT
Turkish flag drawn by a Turkish Airlines 777
Turkish celebrates with a giant flag

Our most tracked flight of 2020 was the giant Turkish flag drawn by Turkish Airlines to celebrate Turkey’s National Sovereignty and Children’s Day. Over 2.8 million people tracked the live flight.
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We’re back in 2 weeks

New episodes of AvTalk will return on 15 January 2021.
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