Best Antennas for ADS-B Reception in 2024

Automatic dependent surveillance–broadcast (ADS-B) is wireless technology that enables aircraft to determine their position via satellite and periodically broadcast this location information. An ADS-B receiver can be used to decode this broadcast signals to track airplanes. Really cool stuff!

Here is a quick list of our top ADS-B antenna picks:

Table of Contents

Best Antenna for ADS-B Receivers

Here are our picks for the best antennas for ADS-B reception.

Antenna with best performance

This antenna from ADSBexchange has the best performance for ADS-B. It can improve ADS-B performance by doubling the range over which planes can be detected.

5.5dBi 1090/978 N-Type Female Antenna - 26-inch

The reason we say ‘can’ is because any increase in range depends on antenna position and location to 1) minimize RF interference and 2) ensure that you have line-of-sight to the ADS-B broadcast signals. You can do this by mounting outdoor as high as possible. Typical detection range can be anywhere from 100 miles to 250 miles.

Here is a complete kit that you will need for this setup:

Alternatively, a kit that includes a 10 ft. cable.

1090MHz 978MHz Dual Band ADS-B Antenna N-Type Female Outdoor 5dBi Fiberglass Antenna + 25ft N-Male to SMA-Male Extension Cable

Easiest Antenna to set up and get started

The easiest way to get started with ADS-B reception is to use a whip antenna. These antennas can be placed right beside your laptop so you’re up and running right away.

Bingfu Dual Band 978MHz 1090MHz 5dBi Magnetic Base SMA Male MCX Antenna (2-Pack) for Aviation Dual Band 978MHz 1090MHz ADS-B Receiver RTL SDR Software Defined Radio USB Stick Dongle Tuner Receiver

The only downsides to this antenna are:

  • It is not actually optimized for ADS-B reception.
  • It is not designed for outdoor use. As a result your range will be limited and you won’t be able to see as many aircraft as with the other antenna.

ADS-B receivers

There are many sophisticated ADS-B receivers out there like the Garmin receiver. This receiver has an integrated antenna that’s optimized for the ADS-B application. An external antenna cannot be used with this product

Garmin GDL 52 Portable SiriusXM/ADS-B Receiver

The simplest and most cost-effective way to get started with this technology is to use an ADS-B software-defined radio kit like this one. Blue R820T2 RTL2832U, 0.5 PPM TCXO ADS-B SDR w/Amp and 1090 Mhz Filter, Antenna & Software on Industrial MicroSD

Unlike the Garmin unit, the above ADS-B kit has an external antenna that is detachable. It also includes a bandpass filter to eliminate out-of-band signals that can interfere with ADS-B reception.

The antennas we discussed in this post can be used with the ADS-B kit.

The performance of your ADS-B receiver in terms of how many planes you are able to track is highly dependent on three main things:

  • the sensitivity of your radio receiver
  • quality of your antenna.
  • where you place your antenna

The Flightaware receiver has excellent sensitivity with a built-in LNA. It also includes a built-in filter for eliminating RF interference.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a Wi-Fi antenna be used for ADS-B?

No it cannot. The reason for this is that Wi-Fi frequency range is 2400-2483 MHz and the ADS-B frequency range is 978 – 1090 MHz.


In this post we reviewed the two best antennas for ADS-B reception. RF signal propagation is very complex and difficult to predict. Small changes in antenna position and location can sometimes result in large deviations in received signal levels and number of detected aircraft. Once you select your antenna there may therefore be additional effort to get the best possible performance. We recommend experimenting with your setup before making a final antenna installation – especially if you choose to go with the Flightaware antenna that is more work to install.

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