Stockholm-based Flightradar24 has extended its capability to track commercial flights over Russia in real time, installing additional plane positioning receivers on local roofs.
Flightradar24's service displays comprehensive live flight information, including the origin and destination of the route and the plane's speed, altitude, type and tail number.
It has become popular among people looking for the causes of flight delays in Russia's increasingly crowded skies.
"Last month, we had over 1 million visits from Russia," Flightradar24 CEO Fredrik Lindahl said, "so we are very keen to improve our coverage even further."
The free service, which is available online, is based on automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast technology, or ADS-B. It combines data feeds from over 1,000 aircraft tracking surveillance devices located around the world to trace the location of commercial planes in the sky, and displays plane-shaped symbols over a map of the world at their precise position on its website.
Most of the data feeds are provided by hobbyists, Lindahl said. There are about 200 people in Russia who have agreed to put aerials on the tops of their houses to collect data from nearby flights and send them to Flightradar24's servers over the Internet.
The company has recently sent 20 more devices to Russia to improve coverage around Magnitogorsk, Krasnoyarsk, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Vladivostok, Yakutsk and olympic host city Sochi.
In the U.S., the company receives data directly from the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA. However, unlike the data sent by the ADS-B receivers, which is real time, the FAA data comes with a five-minute delay.
Lindahl dismissed concerns about flight privacy and general security of his operation. "The B in the ADS-B stands for broadcast," he said. "It's a publicly available data feed. It was intended that way, so that the signal could be picked up by others," he said.
Boeing uses Flightradar24 in its Dreamliner operation center to monitor all 787's that are in flight, CNBC reported last week.
In April last year, Flightradar24 was instrumental in exposing a secret private trip made by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to Milan, Italy, which he had concealed from parliamentarians in his country, Harakahdaily reported.
Last week, news media around the world used the service to monitor the progress of the Aeroflot SU213 flight from Hong Kong to Moscow, on which former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden arrived in Russia.