This mesmerising footage, created by NATS, the organisation in charge of UK air traffic control – depicts a single day in the skies above Britain and illustrates just how crowded they really are.
The “data visualisation” video is created using actual flight records. It begins with a fleet of planes arriving from the west (“early morning transatlantic arrivals enter UK airspace”) and soon the screen is a complex and ever-changing web of arrivals and departures, including 3,500 flights into and out of London alone.
It shows holding stacks above each of the major airports, military training flights over the east coast and inside a designated RAF testing area, as well as helicopter flights between Aberdeen, the world’s busiest heliport, and Britain’s North Sea rigs.
“Following the success of our two data visualisations – Europe 24 and North Atlantic Skies – we’ve taken a lot of time to think about where to go next”, explained Brendan Kelly, head of operational policy at NATS.
“Both were designed to give an overview of the daily complexity and volumes of air traffic across the UK and Europe and to do so in a way that was cinematic and exciting to watch. I think we were able to do that to great effect, but we now want to take you a little deeper."
"Our airspace is busy, complex and there is a lot going on. Each year we manage around 2.2 million movements, peaking at over 8,000 a day (although there are around 7,000 on this particular day)."
"Our tour then take us around the UK, including the other major airports, our two control centres in Swanwick and Prestwick, some general aviation traffic and examples of military training off the east coast of England and near to North Wales."