Flightradar24 Blog

Over the Ocean—24 Hours of Transatlantic Flight

Share this article
Following our previous time lapse showing 24 hours of flights over the United States, we’ve moved east to see what 24 hours of transatlantic flight looks like. This time lapse shows traffic over the North Atlantic from 0000 UTC to 2359 UTC on 6 May 2016.

Over the Ocean

Eastbound transatlantic traffic picks up shortly before 00:00 UTC (20:00 on the US east coast) and flows steadily until about 09:30 UTC when the balance of flights shifts westward. Most transatlantic flights follow the North Atlantic Tracks: predefined flight routes that change twice daily based on factors such as the location of the jet stream. In our time lapse, the eastbound NATs begin off the eastern coast of Newfoundland and transit to the west coast of Ireland, taking advantage of the day’s strong jet stream. Westbound flights then fly either to the north or south of the eastbound traffic block, avoiding strong headwinds.

Peak eastbound traffic flowing along the North Atlantic Tracks (NAT).
An example of eastbound traffic flowing along the North Atlantic Tracks (NAT).

Mapped Ocean Tracks are available to subscribers with a Gold or Business account.


By the Numbers

On 6 May we tracked 2,464 flights over the North Atlantic. London’s Heathrow Airport had the greatest number of transatlantic departures (136) and arrivals (127). New York’s JFK Airport came in a close second with 134 departures and 123 arrivals. Given those numbers, it’s no surprise that London-Heathrow—New York-JFK is the busiest route with 41 total flights between the two airports.

Transatlantic flights by airport
Transatlantic flights by airport


On 6 May, United Airlines operated the most flights over the Atlantic. United completed 156 transatlantic flights, 73 of which either departed or arrived at Newark (EWR), United’s east coast hub. The other two major carries in the US with significant transatlantic service came next, followed by British Airways and Lufthansa.

Transatlantic flights by airline (top 5 airlines)
Transatlantic flights by airline (top 5 airlines)


The Airbus A330 family was put into transatlantic service most often on 6 May, operating 376 flights, with the Boeing 777 family close behind with 371 flights. The A330-300 was the aircraft sub-type to operate the most flights, crossing the North Atlantic 199 times.

Transatlantic flights by aircraft type
Transatlantic flights by aircraft type


Notes on the Video

If you watch the video closely, you’ll notice a few quirks in the paths of certain flights. Because of the way we track flights and our data sources we often lack full coverage of a flight over the ocean. For these flights, we’ll estimate coverage for up to 120 minutes after we last receive an ADS-B signal. Because flights are generally already in the cruise portion of flight at a consistent speed and track when coverage is lost, we can estimate with reasonable precision the location of the flight. If the estimation is off slightly, when the flight reenters our coverage area it can “jump” to its actual position.

For many flights over the North Atlantic we receive real-time North American radar data that allow us to track a flight all the way across the ocean. This data, however, may intermittently lack certain data fields, such as heading, which can cause the aircraft icon to display as a “?”. This can also occur momentarily as flights transition from one data source to another.

On The Radar Logo

Get the latest aviation news delivered to you

Get the latest aviation news delivered to you

Flight tracking and aviation industry news direct to your inbox

Aviation news comes quickly, so join more than 600,000 others who receive weekly aviation industry and flight tracking news from Flightradar24 direct to their inbox.

Share this article

Useful flight tracking glossary

View our glossary of terms which you may encounter either on our site or in aviation in general that we hope enriches your flight tracking experience.

About Flightradar24

Flightradar24 is a global flight tracking service that provides you with real-time information about thousands of aircraft around the world.

Don't miss out on the latest Flightradar24 videos!

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see our latest videos as soon as they’re published!

Latest video
On The Radar Logo
Get weekly updates on Flightradar24 and have the latest aviation news land in your inbox.
AvTalk Logo

AvTalk Episode 218: Asiana’s open door policy

How flight tracking works

Flightradar24 combines data from several data sources including ADS-B, MLAT and radar data.
Search the blog
Trending articles
Follow us
Latest AvTalk Podcasts
Related news

Flight tracking top 10 aircraft

Explore the top 10 most tracked aircraft and find out why these particular aircraft draw so much interest.

Help to grow our flight tracking coverage

We are continually looking to improve our flight tracking and the airports below are where new receivers will add the most coverage. Apply for a receiver today and if accepted you’ll receiver a free Flightradar24 Business Subscription.

Free ADS-B Receiver
Flightradar24 logo
Try the full Flightradar24 experience free for 7 days
Remove ads and unlock over 50 additional features
On The Radar Logo

Get the Flightradar24 Aviation newsletter

Flight tracking and aviation industry news direct to your inbox

Aviation news comes quickly, so we want to bring more of the aviation world to you with our weekly Flightradar24 aviation newsletter - On The Radar.

On The Radar Logo