Saturday, July 5, 2014

Transatlantic and European Flights Animations

NATS transatlantic flights
Transatlantic flights at 2 in the afternoon
These animations by National Air Traffic Services (Nats), the UK air traffic control service, are interesting for anyone who ever has flown between Europe and the United States, or within Europe. Both were produced by 422, which specializes in these types of animations.

These are hypnotic animations, showing the time of day and the air traffic control regions (generally named after the airport overseeing that area of the globe). Clearly, since everything is marked out on the map so clearly, no plane could possibly just, you know, disappear without a trace and never be found after months of desperate searching.

Right? Well, this isn't Asia! Uh huh.

One thing that is striking is how many flights there are going over the ocean, and with so many going to the same places. They should build a railroad!

Another striking fact is that between midnight and 1 a.m., apparently nothing is taking to the air on the transatlantic routes, whereas planes appear to be departing at all other times. That may just be an artifact of how the the animation was produced, though.

The 3D effect of the video is pretty cool, and the way they show how fast these planes are racing across the ocean and display them from various angles is impressive.

The times shown apparently are GMT (English) time, which only makes sense because this is, after all, a British production.

The first animation below shows 2,524 flights that travelled between Canada, the US and Europe on a single day in August 2013.

These videos are much, much more enjoyable in full screen mode.

This next animation displays European flights, which run continually around the clock.

What's most impressive about this video to me is how the flights so resemble blood pumping through a body, keeping it all functional. Imagine if all the flights were grounded, as happened in the United States for over two days in 2001! The economic impact would be enormous.

It's kind of crazy how so many commercial aircraft travel at wildly different speeds. Some just cruise along, while others positively zip to their destination.

According to NATS:
"This data visualization was created from real flight data taken from a day in July 2013. It highlights the intensity of the operation in Europe - an operation which runs 24 x 7 x 365. NATS and the UK are at the heart of the operation. With Heathrow as the busiest international airport in Europe, and Gatwick as the busiest single runway airport in the world, we play a key role in ensuring air traffic under our control in European airspace is as safe and efficient as it can be."
Interesting animations that show the true nature of international air travel these days. Must have been quite a bit of data to manage, but with the proper inputs and software to process it, anything is possible with animation these days.


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