Air Traffic 24 – Time Elapsed View of World Air Traffic

We know there are a heck of a lot of planes in the air, worldwide, at any given instant.  What would we find if we could look down on the earth to see this air traffic over a 24 hour period?Air Traffic 24

Following some links from a newsletter published by FlightAware.com (see my post: Flight View Live) I wound up seeing this You Tube video: World Airline Traffic (24-Hour Time Lapse)

The still graphics below were taken from the You Tube video.

What I Notice on the Video

  • Highest traffic density is the US, Western Europe, and Asia (China, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia)
  • South America’s traffic is bunched to the North and along the Brazilian coast.
  • Africa’s traffic, very light except for the country of South Africa.
  • Australia traffic high where most of the population resides on the Southeast Coast.  New Zealand shows brightly, surprising to me.
  • In country traffic becomes light everywhere at night.

Day/Night Dynamics

As the day follows night, creeping East to West, the preferred flight schedules are revealed.

  • The most popular flight times for US to Europe leave in the evening, travelling east (the “red-eyes”).  Arrivals, in London for example, would be in the morning of the next day:
Air Traffic 24

Red-Eye Traffic Pattern Flowing East - US to Europe










  • As day breaks in the US, a swarm of flights from Europe make their way to the US.  They typically leave, say Paris, in the morning, chase the sun across the Atlantic to arrive in the US during afternoon hours:
Air Traffic 24

Traffic Pattern Flowing West - Europe to US










  • As daytime envelops the Americas, Europe, and Western Africa, we see maximum traffic density (brightest yellow) in the US and Western Europe.
  • As expected, traffic subsides in Asia and Australia:
Air Traffic 24

Daytime - The Americas, Western Europe, West Africa