Home Miscellaneous Spotting Which are the best aircraft databases for plane spotters?

Which are the best aircraft databases for plane spotters?

by Matt Falcus

If you’re the kind of plane spotter who likes to keep track of the aircraft you’ve seen by logging aircraft registrations (tail numbers to you Americans), you can either buy books that are produced each year and tick them off, or you can use a database and keep track digitally.

For years I loved to tick off the planes I’d seen in a book. But with the airline and aircraft world changing so fast, I found it frustrating having to wait a year for the latest fleet listing.

I was probably losing lots of aircraft that I’d seen.

So as far back as 2004 I invested in an aircraft database for my computer to keep track digitally.

It updates every week with the latest additions and changes, and it gives me all kinds of statistics and useful information like the latest fleet listings. I have never looked back.

If you’re thinking of starting to use an aircraft database, these are the ones considered to be the best available at the moment.

Most will offer a free trial of their software, so be sure to shop around to make sure you get the right one for you.

 

Pacific Aviation Database

Covers all civil and military types of aircraft, and includes 1.3 million records, so its pretty substantial. The database is integrated with Planeplotter to help you find needed aircraft. Those subscribing to this database get access to occasional visits, AGM meetings and online community.

Price: £25 per year

Website: https://www.gfiapac.org/

 

Freebird

An enthusiast-run database with around 1 million aircraft records which has been around for more than 20 years. Aircraft from home-builds right up to fast jets! Updates are done real-time, so no need for weekly email downloads or DVDs.

Price: £40 per year

Website: http://www.freebirddb.com/

 

Aviation Databases Global

Run by Biz and Prop Review Monthly, Aviation Databases Global includes all aircraft types, from light to military, Russian and airliners. Also includes airport and airfield listings, preserved aircraft by country and airline fleet listings. Around 1.8 million aircraft are listed, and the database connects with SBS. You can choose email or DVD updates, and from different prices.

Price: From £70 per year depending on package and add-ons.

Website: https://www.aviationdatabases.com/

 

ADU Software

Founded in 2002, ADU is well established as one of the leading databases for aircraft enthusiasts. Updated weekly, it has various packages and prices to suit different needs. These include the basic database, connection with SBS, or additional linked mobile app.

The database covers all aircraft types, from airliners to military, light to Soviet aircraft. It also covers airports and airfields, and country listings.

Price: From £60 per year depending on package and add-ons.

Website: https://adusoftware.co.uk/

 

Aerodata

A civil and military database covering aircraft of all types, plus airport and airfield data, country listings, personal flight log, operators and more. Known as Quantum. Has almost 1.9 million aircraft entries. Great for photographers, too. Compatible with SBS and AirNav Radar Box receivers.

Price: £150 for complete system, then £100 per year, or £75 per year for QuantumLite,

Website: http://www.aerodata.org/

 

SpottingLog

A web-based database making it easy to store and access your spotting logs anywhere. But don’t worry, these are securely backed up daily and you can also print off your logs. Lets you log your trips and add your photos. Includes all the details you’d expect for each aircraft, as well as the ability to search by airport, view fleet listings, statistics and a good community of spotters you can link with.

Price: £30 per year (includes free import from other software)

Website: https://www.spottinglog.com/

 

PlaneBaseNG

Currently only available to existing members (or those sponsored by an existing member), this popular database includes around 1 million records of most aircraft types. Was popular thanks to it being free, but is now introducing an annual fee.

Price: £40 per year. Not currently accepting new members unless sponsored

Website: http://planebase.biz/

 

Planelogger

A basic database with logging, aircraft info etc. It includes airlines, bizjets and turboprops, but does not include any military, general aviation or light aircraft types. It is free to use in its basic form, and includes web support and a community. Small subscription for upgraded features.

Price: Free. £5 per month for upgraded subscription.

Website: https://www.planelogger.com/

 

With thanks to Kevin Jacomb of LAAS for his help in researching this article.

 

Which aircraft database do you use? What do you like about it? Leave a comment below.

 

 

 

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6 comments

Graham Brown February 18, 2021 - 6:12 pm

Hi Matt..as of March 2021, Plane Base is introducing a £40 per year fee to use its database and logging programme. It was free to use with voluntary donations accepted but so few were willing to cough up that the developers have had no option but to introduce the charge to maintain its development programme.

Reply
Matt Falcus February 18, 2021 - 9:10 pm

Thanks Graham, I’ve updated that!
Matt

Reply
Chris Barrow February 19, 2021 - 11:51 am

I use Spot2Log it simple to use and cheap.

Reply
Seymour Hills February 19, 2021 - 3:39 pm

This is a great article but I wish you had added a Pros versus Cons for each DB in order for people to make a more informed choice….

Reply
Dan Dyer February 26, 2021 - 12:18 pm

Spot2Log is a dead project, the website is offline and no developments have happened for about 5 years, support never replied to emails. Need to remove that from this list.

Reply
Mark Curran March 31, 2021 - 2:40 pm

Freebird has the ability to extract a Basestation SQB file to run with an ADSB tracker software such as Planeplotter or with an SBS box etc.

It would be good to dig deeper in to data quality, user interface, reporting/outputs etc.

Reply

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