Some 30,000 flights criss-cross Europe’s airspace on a typical summer day. In this video, you can watch them all in just under two minutes.
Air traffic is a frequent subject for visualization, but the folks at NATS, responsible for handling much of the air traffic control in Great Britain and elsewhere, know the delicate dance better than just about anyone. To give us a sense of what keeps them busy day to day, they put together this stunning video. Running at 1,440 times regular speed, the viz is striking as pure laser light spectacle. But the closer you watch, the more fascinating details you’ll find.
The clip combines UK radar data from June 21 of last year and flight plan data from the rest of the continent from July 28. To start, notice how planes come over from North America, not in one busy throng but instead in orderly rows, like they’re cruising in lanes on some great invisible highway. As we zoom in on England, we see some aircraft joining different thoroughfares to Europe’s big cities, as others split off on byways to destinations like Madrid and Lisbon.