The world from your Air France seat

I’m one of those travellers who enjoys a window seat on a flight, and I love to look out of it to see something of the world below. I realise that I am probably in the minority, and that most passengers have little interest in the land they are flying over; their prevailing interest being in how much longer the flight will take, and whether the in-flight meal and movies are up to scratch.

As a perennial out-the-window-watcher, I am delighted to learn that Air France gives you the opportunity to look at the landscape that you are flying over, and it is from a very high eye-in-the-sky perspective, a set of satellite images that have been enhanced to show the Earth at its very best.

Clouds can’t obstruct this view: the crystal waters of the Andaman Islands while en route to Singapore; the snaking Senegal River after taking off from Dakar; the rolling dunes of the Gobi Desert before landing in Beijing. Satellite photos of the landscape below the aircraft are now accessible by passengers aboard almost all Air France long-haul flights thanks to a four-year partnership with ESA.

This year, ESA, the European Space Agency, provided Air France with over 1,200 new images to incorporate into the in-flight Geovision programme which displays captivating satellite acquisitions that correlate to the route on the onboard screens. The mesmerising acquisitions have been selected by ESA from various Earth observation satellites including ESA’s Envisat and Proba, Korea’s Kompsat and CNES’s (French Space Agency) Spot.

For eastbound destinations from Paris, 628 new Earth observation images have been added such as the mouth of the Ganges River emptying into the Bay of Bengal and the 3776 m peak of Mount Fuji in Japan.

Passengers on flights heading west can – for the first time – enjoy the show comprised of 390 images including the Canary Islands and Canada’s shallow Foxe Basin.

The route on southbound destinations can be followed thanks to 367 new images that cover landscapes such as the vast Sahara Desert and Mount Kenya.

The collaboration began in 2007 with only 250 images available on flights operating between France and India, China, Japan and Singapore. Today, the show is accessible on over 67 flights covering Asia, North and South America, Africa and Oceania and now displays up to 1,200 images.

2 comments to The world from your Air France seat

  • John Ross

    I’m with you. I love looking out the window and what Air France are offering sounds great,. I often wonder why no-one has ever put a camera on the nose or on top of the tail fin and CCTV to the screens for the passengers to see. A long time ago a now defunct Australian domestic carrier, TAA, mounted a camera on top of the tail fin of a DC9 and shot film whilst flying for their own TV commercial – it was a hit! It would be so much simpler and cheaper to do it live today and I’m sure the technology challenges, cold, icing etc can be readily addressed. Mind you some 10 hours over the Pacific would be boring but it’s a big world with some absolutely fascinating landscape.

  • Emirates offers live cams on some of its planes – there is one in the front and one looking straight down from the undercarriage

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