OXFORD Cartographers has developed a new concept in map imagery, which offers airlines a three-dimensional alternative to conventional "flat and featureless" route maps and inflight route-tracking displays.

The UK mapmaker has based its "space" view of the Earth, on the photographic reproduction, of a specially modeled globe.

The Oxford Globe, produced at a scale of 1:25 million, using 20km-resolution Landsat survey pictures as source, depicts accurate topographical detail in colours which represent the environment as seen from space. It has been photographed from over 100 different aspects and angles and the images, stored digitally, form the basis of maps, which show the true curve of the Earth's surface.

Associate director at Oxford Cartographers, Terry Hardaker, says: "On a normal map, many of the long-haul flights - London to Los Angeles for example - seem to make a meaningless detour towards the North Pole. This is because ordinary maps try to show a spherical surface on a flat sheet, which distorts reality. The global view shows quite simply that the route is actually the shortest distance."

Hardaker says that details, such as place names and routes, are added as required to the region selected by the customer as the most appropriate base map.

The global maps are being used by airlines in brochures and on wall-mounted route plans, but also provide the base information for inflight route-tracking displays.

Source: Flight International