Featured Map for 12 September 2014:
Moscow to New York, No Ukraine


After the destruction of MH 17 near Donetsk on 17 July 2014, which is widely believed to have been caused by a Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) launched from Ukraine, air traffic was rerouted to avoid the airspace above the Ukranian war zone. That led to a conversation with a friend about how much US airlines would be affected.

United Airlines once flew between London Heathrow and Delhi using the Boeing 767-300ER, but this route was dropped years ago. Following a great circle path, that flight would have flown over Ukraine, within 19 nm of Kiev.

The only other flight which came to mind is Delta Airline's service between New York (John F. Kennedy) and Moscow (Sheremetyevo), also operated with Boeing 767-300ER aircraft.

Mapping a simple path—a path between involving just two points—with one other point (e.g., LHR-DEL,IEV) will also produce information about where the point comes closest to the path and the cross-track distance at that point, provided the point is not beyond either end of the path. For SVO-JFK,IEV, that didn't work. Changing Kiev to a path from Moscow (today's Featured Map), it seems obvious that Kiev is along the path, with the closest point being about 200 nm west of Moscow.

The problem turned out not to be a bug but rather a misperception created by the problem of drawing a more-or-less spherical planet on a two-dimensional map. By changing to an orthographic projection centered on Moscow it's easier to see that Kiev is in fact "behind" the path from Moscow to New York. Comparing the initial headings from Moscow one sees that they differ by 90.2, confirming what the orthographic map appears to show.

References and additional information:


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