At a time when we’ve been thinking too much about flight tracking, we received a superb animation of European airspace data from 422 South’s Andy Davies-Coward for NATS.
Here’s the video (click the graphic), and a mini-Case Study of the process and tools.
- NATS: a UK-based provider of global air traffic management services.
- Produce a stand alone animated piece visualizing 24 hours of flights over the UK and mainland Europe based on a combination of radar and flight schedule data.
- This would be a general tool for raising awareness of NATS in the UK and abroad as controllers of possibly the busiest and most complex airspace in the world.
- 422 South has spent the last 5 years refining techniques to visualize complex data in a cinematic, intuitive style.
- According to co-MD Andy Davies-Coward, ‘We had been talking with NATS on and off for a year or so before they called us in for a meeting; this sequence is the first fruits of that meeting.
- “We used our own specially written code to extract the data and to convert it into a form that can be animated.
- “Maya is used to create the dots and lines that represent the individual flights, and to position them accurately over satellite imagery.
- “After FX is then used to composite the various layers and add cinematic production values.
- “The whole process took 6 weeks, including various consultations and revisions along the way.”
Key Factoids: European Airspace
- On a typical July day there are around 30,000 flights across European airspace.
- Approximately a quarter fly within UK controlled airspace.
- The total distance flown by these aircraft is 25 million nautical miles.
- That’s 998 times around the Earth.
- Or 104 trips to the Moon.
- On 21 June, 5,675 aircraft departed or arrived from UK airports, of which…
- … 2,295 departed from or arrived at Gatwick (894) or Heathrow (1,401).
- … 1,532 were overflights.
- The video is 1440x faster than real time.
- NATS is the UK’s leading provider of Air Traffic Management (ATM) services, handling 2.1 million flights in 2012/13, covering the UK and eastern North Atlantic.
- NATS also provides air traffic control services at 15 UK airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow; at Gibraltar Airport and, in a joint venture with Ferrovial, at a number of airport towers in Spain.
- NATS is growing its business worldwide, and now has contracts in more than 30 countries.
- There is more information on the NATS website at www.nats.aero
- And there is the blog post as well for anything specifically on the visualisation.
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