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Are In Flight Maps Censored?  
User currently offlinemarkboston From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 74 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 18703 times:

Recently flew BLR-LHR and none of the cities in Iraq or Syria appeared in the in flight map while we were flying over these countries. Are maps "censored" while flying over sensitive areas?

34 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineSW733 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 6304 posts, RR: 9
Reply 1, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 18625 times:

Quoting markboston (Thread starter):
Recently flew BLR-LHR and none of the cities in Iraq or Syria appeared in the in flight map while we were flying over these countries. Are maps "censored" while flying over sensitive areas?

I've definitely seen Baghdad and Basra show up while flying over Iraq before. We flew straight over Basra at night and the only way I knew what city it was is because of the map.

That being said, interesting southern route you guys took. My LHR-BLR flights have always gone the more "traditional", straight route over Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Georgia/Azerbaijan, and Iran.


User currently offlinefrancoflier From France, joined Oct 2001, 3739 posts, RR: 11
Reply 2, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 18623 times:

They're not as far as I know...
It might just be that over desert areas, there are no cities of importance to show?

I know that tail or belly cameras are turned off in certain areas before landing, mainly when the airport is a military base or there is one nearby.



Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit posting...
User currently offlineSOBHI51 From Saudi Arabia, joined Jun 2003, 3427 posts, RR: 17
Reply 3, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 18397 times:
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I remember few months ago Iran wanted all airlines to show the Persian Gulf and not the Arab Gulf on the in flight maps.


I am against any terrorist acts committed under the name of Islam
User currently offlinecipango From Ireland, joined Jul 2009, 585 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 18206 times:

Am I right in saying the in flight maps over the US have a 5 minute delay for security reasons?


Next Flights: DUB-KEF-DUB, DUB-DXB-MEL-DXB-DUB, DUB-MAN-DME-MAN-DUB, DUB-CDG-KUL-CAN-HKG-KUL-CDG-DUB
User currently offlineBRxxx From Taiwan, joined Aug 2007, 113 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 18149 times:

Sometimes they just show the 'big' cities.

I flew over that region on the way to LHR and got this on the map:

Flight map



Flown on:A320,A332,A333,B737,B738,B763,B744,B77W,B773,E175,E190,MD90,MD11
User currently offlinetimf From United States of America, joined Mar 2003, 969 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 18022 times:
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Quoting cipango (Reply 4):
Am I right in saying the in flight maps over the US have a 5 minute delay for security reasons?

This is true of ground-based flight tracking software and websites, but as far as I know onboard maps are shown in real time.


User currently offlineskipness1E From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2007, 3199 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 17900 times:

Quoting SOBHI51 (Reply 3):
I remember few months ago Iran wanted all airlines to show the Persian Gulf and not the Arab Gulf on the in flight maps.

The BBC has always referred to it as the Persian Gulf.


User currently offlinecmf From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 17790 times:

Quoting SOBHI51 (Reply 3):
I remember few months ago Iran wanted all airlines to show the Persian Gulf and not the Arab Gulf on the in flight maps.

It is only the last 50 years or so Arab countries have used Arabian Gulf. This is good reminder for everyone who think Iran is an Arab country.


User currently offlinerampart From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 3109 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 17732 times:

Quoting SOBHI51 (Reply 3):
I remember few months ago Iran wanted all airlines to show the Persian Gulf and not the Arab Gulf on the in flight maps.

I've never heard reference to it as "The Arab Gulf", so had to look it up. The geographic community, the UN, and shipping industrry all consider it the Persian Gulf, though there appears to be a controversial movement to call it the Arab Gulf in some circles. So I can't see how much "wanting" needs to be done. Do the airlines of the "Gulf States" (and the rest of the Arabian Penninsula) refer to it as the Arabian Gulf on their maps?

-Rampart


User currently offlinecmf From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 17601 times:

Quoting rampart (Reply 9):
Do the airlines of the "Gulf States" (and the rest of the Arabian Penninsula) refer to it as the Arabian Gulf on their maps?

The ones I have seen, yes. First time I noticed it was a couple of years ago in UAE. After that I have checked almost every time I have seen a map of the area and every map inside GCC have it marked as Arab Gulf.


User currently offlinebwaflyer From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 689 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 17455 times:

bmi had a bit of a nightmare a few years ago. The aircraft acquired from BMed which operated to the Levant / Middle East did not show Israeli cities on their maps (although showed the Israeli border in outline). However bmi started using these aircraft on the LHR-TLV service unaware of the omissions. Passengers quickly kicked up an understandable fuss, reported in the press, and the maps were deactivated immediately until a software update could be uploaded. Since the suspension of the TLV service, the maps remain unchanged and continue to show Israeli cities.

User currently offlinepenguins From United States of America, joined Mar 2010, 280 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 17308 times:

I've always wondered about the route shown on there inflight maps aboard the planes. I f you were drastically off court would the map show so or does the plane always stay on the "yellow line"?

User currently offlinebwaflyer From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 689 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 17219 times:

Quoting penguins (Reply 12):
I've always wondered about the route shown on there inflight maps aboard the planes. I f you were drastically off court would the map show so or does the plane always stay on the "yellow line"?

From what I understand as a lowly chicken chucker down the back, the map is linked to the FMC so the route is constantly updated from the navigation system.


User currently offlineB777LRF From Luxembourg, joined Nov 2008, 1308 posts, RR: 3
Reply 14, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 17133 times:

They're not "censored" per se, there are just more than one version available of a map  

You'll never see Tel Aviv on the map when flying a Gulf carrier, but you might very well see Jerusalem. Neither will you see Israel, but chances are good you'll see Palestine written on the screen.

If you're flying certain Gulf carriers the map will read Arabian Gulf, to everybody else it's the Persian Gulf. And I bet you that if AR flew anywhere near the Falklands, their map would say Malvinas.



From receips and radials over straight pipes to big fans - been there, done that, got the hearing defects to prove
User currently offlinereality From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 469 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 17070 times:

Quoting BRxxx (Reply 5):
Sometimes they just show the 'big' cities.

I flew over that region on the way to LHR and got this on the map:


Flight map


This map see seems to confirm the OPs observations. No cities in Iraq or Syria are shown, even though they are larger than the "big" cities.

Not shown on map:

Bagdad--population 7 million
Tehran--8 million
Demascus--2 million

While at the same time, "small" cities are shown:

Mecca--2 million
Sana'a--2 million
Beiruit--2 million


So it seems that markboston, the OP, is correct. But why is this so? As he asks, are the maps "censored." Or does it just depend on the specific airline and what they think are important cities, or, does the map exclude Bagdad and Tehran simply because very few airlines fly to those cities?


User currently offlinecmf From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 16996 times:

Quoting reality (Reply 15):
This map see seems to confirm the OPs observations. No cities in Iraq or Syria are shown, even though they are larger than the "big" cities.

I have often question how highlighted cities are selected. For example showing Limerick but not Dublin.


User currently offlineShamrock137 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 141 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 15768 times:

Quoting cmf (Reply 16):
I have often question how highlighted cities are selected. For example showing Limerick but not Dublin.

I was once told that obscure cities shown are because the map is linked to the FMS. This is why small towns such as Gardner, Massachussetts are shown over larger towns nearby such as Worcester. Simply because the FMS recognises GDM as a fix.



Time to spare? Go by air!
User currently offlinekann123air From United States of America, joined Jun 2009, 866 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 15296 times:

Quoting cipango (Reply 4):
Am I right in saying the in flight maps over the US have a 5 minute delay for security reasons?

So that explains why every time I see an airplane over my house it's always about 70 miles away on flightaware....



Moving forward with the New American
User currently offline777klm From China, joined Apr 2005, 527 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 12476 times:

Quoting penguins (Reply 12):

I've always wondered about the route shown on there inflight maps aboard the planes. I f you were drastically off court would the map show so or does the plane always stay on the "yellow line"?


As this photo shows (taken on the tragic day of 9/11/11) the map shows the correct information.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Michiel Jas




Next flight: AMS-PEK
User currently offlinePlaneInsomniac From Canada, joined Nov 2007, 676 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days ago) and read 11710 times:

Automatic map annotation / labelling is a non-trivial (and sometimes unsolvable) problem, since a huge number of geographical place names contend for a very limited screen real estate. I have observed odd behavior (i.e., laughably irrelevant places being shown and world cities being ignored) on practically all in-flight maps I have ever used. It is also worth mentioning that most in-flight map software appears to be somewhat sub-par in quality, to state it diplomatically. If your favorite city doesn't show up, it is likely a sign of the algorithm trying its best and failing. No conspiracy theories necessary...


Am I cured? Slept 5 hours on last long-haul flight...
User currently offlineplanesavvy From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2007, 65 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 11244 times:

I had a bizarre onboard map issue flying Virgin Atlantic from LHR to Cape Town a few years back. I like following our track on the map when I fly so turned it on fairly soon after departure. The map said we were flying from LHR to Shanghai!!! It even showed all the normal info such as ETAs and local times for PVG. I found it amusing that for about five hours it continued to show a track over northern Russia until it was turned off when it was clear that something was wrong. It wasn't corrected to show that we were actually heading south over Africa.

It did leave me doubting the accuracy of the maps which, as others have mentioned, I thought was linked to the FMC.


User currently offlineEagleboy From Niue, joined Dec 2009, 1797 posts, RR: 2
Reply 22, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 11150 times:
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Quoting SOBHI51 (Reply 3):
I remember few months ago Iran wanted all airlines to show the Persian Gulf and not the Arab Gulf on the in flight maps.
Quoting skipness1E (Reply 7):
The BBC has always referred to it as the Persian Gulf

I have always known it as the Persian Gulf war rather than the "Arabian/Arab Gulf"

Quoting penguins (Reply 12):
I f you were drastically off court would the map show so or does the plane always stay on the "yellow line"?
Quoting bwaflyer (Reply 13):
From what I understand as a lowly chicken chucker down the back, the map is linked to the FMC so the route is constantly updated from the navigation system.

No. The route on the map is fed by the actual route of the aircraft. I have seen the map display the aircraft diverting before the flight crew were able to made an announcement to that effect. (It was a sudden thing so their responsibility was to talk to ATC and divert before informing the pax)

Quoting cmf (Reply 16):
I have often question how highlighted cities are selected. For example showing Limerick but not Dublin.
Quoting PlaneInsomniac (Reply 20):
a huge number of geographical place names contend for a very limited screen real estate. I have observed odd behavior (i.e., laughably irrelevant places being shown and world cities being ignored) on practically all in-flight maps I have ever used. It is also worth mentioning that most in-flight map software appears to be somewhat sub-par in quality, to state it diplomatically.

I have seen that too, as the map 'zooms' in and out some very random towns/cities are noted. And the screen can only show 5-6 at any time without cluttering up the map image with text.


User currently offlinespeedbird217 From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2012, 334 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 9575 times:

Sometimes they also define a whole new world. This was taken on a KLM B737-700 en-route to Bergen. Look at where they placed Tripoli on the map (I give you a hint, try to find Beirut   )...

http://i1149.photobucket.com/albums/o593/madmax15787/2012-04-27_09-30-46_486.jpg


User currently offlineoffloaded From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2009, 871 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 9463 times:

Quoting speedbird217 (Reply 23):

There is a Tripoli in Lebanon and Libya, so the Lebanon one looks about right...



To no one will we sell, or deny, or delay, right or justice - Magna Carta, 1215
25 Post contains images speedbird217 : Of course you are right! Well, my bad. Anyway, I guess most people would expect to see Beirut there, since almost all the other cities on the map are
26 AviRaider : You're absolutely correct, as a geographer who works with such systems, it's more likely the software trying it's best to keep up. To keep the map fr
27 markboston : I don't think that was what was happening on my flight. While we were flying over Iraq and Syria the map wasn't showing ANY cities even though I coul
28 brilondon : I think that that situation you had may have had was that the system may have been faulty.
29 DTWPurserBoy : You are correct--the map is slaved to the FMC. However, it is possible that the purser either forget to enter the departure and arrival cities into t
30 Post contains links and images edds : Thanks or starting this interesting topic. Most of the in-flight moving maps are horrible design and really the worst cartography you could find. I am
31 planefixer : Airlines can pick and choose what cities they want to show on the Airshow system, they can also highlight points of interest on the trip, and the newe
32 Stratacruiser : I remember my Dad telling me after one of his business trips to Kuwait in the early seventies that all maps in his firm's offices there were altered t
33 rfields5421 : In October 1973 my US Navy squadron operated out of Bandar Abbas Iran for missions over norther Saudi Arabia and the northern Red Sea. We were warned
34 Burkhard : Sometimes these maps show tiny villages and not hte names of the multi million cities nearby - never took them serious, but nice to have them...
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