A Year of Global Flights, Visualised

By Sam Gibbs on at

This beautiful image represents all the criss-crossing flights travelling around our little blue marble in a year. The light blue lines are shorter or more frequent overlapping routes, with the darker lines representing longer-haul flights with a lower frequency. Can you spot the busiest airports in the world?

The data was pulled from openflights.org and collated by Michael Markieta for Arup to create this stunning series of images. Amazingly, you don't even need a base layer map to outline the continents for you. Enough of the 58,000 flights follow the coastlines almost exactly that it's easy to see the world below.

You might be surprised to know that in Europe, according to the data, Frankfurt International is the busiest airport with 235 direct-flight destinations, with Sao Paulo, Beijing, Sydney, Cairo and Atlanta scoring top in their respective continents.

It's interesting to see all those flights taking place in our airspace and where people and planes concentrate. It creates a truly gorgeous Tron-like map, which I wish I could print up nice and big and slap on my wall. Hit the BBC for more images from the dataset. [BBC]