This fantastic animation was created by NATS (a provider of air traffic control services in the UK), showcasing all air traffic in Europe on a typical summer day. The visualization was created from real flight data (UK radar data from 21 June 2013 and European flight plan information from 28 July 2013).

European airspace is pretty much the busies and most complex in all the world – every single day thousands of air traffic controllers guide millions of passengers safely to their destinations. But most people are completely unaware of this happening – it literally goes above their heads.

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Airspace might be the invisible infrastructure, but it is every bit as important as the road, rail and utility networks we use everyday – it’s the lifeblood of our economy, even more so for the U.K., connecting it to the rest of the continent.

Here are some vital statistics about European flights, also offered by NATS:


– 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