Project description

This special feature looks at the complex way commercial airlines use airspace. It explains the historical background behind airline paths and the inherent problems of flying over particular countries, maps of specific cases of interest and the issues affecting passengers’ time and money on certain airlines

What makes this project innovative?

The feature explains issues which most passengers remain unaware of, even though they cost them time and money. The story flows around maps revealing dense information in a clean presentation

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

This project was one of the SCMP’s most read articles in 2018 and its evergreen content means it continues to attract readers long after it was first published. We have received much positive feedback and discussions have been sparked on social media. Asian audiences have been particularly involved after they learn why their flights take such messy paths

Source and methodology

This project uses diverse sources of data including US Federal Aviation Administration, ESRI for maps data,,, flightaware and flightradar24 to get aircraft paths for specific companies, Jetex for reference stories on aeroplanes detours, for the European example of charges, Russian Federal Air Transport Agency for details of charges and Russian airspace zones, International Civil Aviation Organization for historical background The story is driven by the maps which were created with QGIS and edited in Adobe Illustrator The only semi-interactive object is the 3D globe, which was created with Threejs wrapping the map generated in QGIS

Technologies Used

Software: Adobe Creative cloud: illustrator, Photoshop Brackets IO QGIS Programming languages: Threejs Javascript JQuery HTML CSS SVG

Project members

Marco Hernandez and Darren Long



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