Exploring Airports and Airplane Fatalities Worldwide
A little background about why I decided to explore airports and airplane fatalities worldwide. I love traveling; one of the things I would like to do is to travel all over the world. I recently started my adventure, and I have visited 5 countries in the past 2 years. I know this is not a big number, but it is just the beginning. Even, I happen to enjoy waiting for departure in the airports. This might sound a little odd, but that waiting time can be enjoyable if you know how to take advantage of it exploring. Personally, I like visiting the stores, buying souvenirs, tasting the traditional foods, learning about the culture, and more.
While thinking about my project idea, I found the World Airports dataset from the ArcGIS Hub, and I wanted to explore it. In the previous semester, I worked with the Airplane Crashes and Fatalities dataset from the data.world site, and I thought putting these 2 together would make an interesting exploratory project.
Data and Methods
To process my data, initially, I used a combination of 3 very popular data visualization tools: Tableau, the open-source GIS software QGIS, and ArcGIS Online. After downloading my data, the first step in the data exploration process is to make sure to set the right map projection for your project. I worked with 2 projections, for the “world map”, I used the Coordinate Reference System WGS 84, and the USA Contiguous Lambert Conformal for the “US map”.
Note: My project presentation was made with the visualizations I created using the software mentioned above. However, as I picked “Medium” for my web post, I was not able to use them for this post, rather, I used “Datawrapper” which is a very flexible tool and is supported by “Medium”. For your reference, here is the link to the Tableau presentation.
Exploring the Data
First, I decided to take a high-level look into the “Airports' Dataset”. The first question I had in mind was, which countries have the most airports? I chose a Cloropleth Map to visualize the result. Surprisingly, the USA was the winning country with 25,317 airports. It worth noting that these are all kinds of airports including domestic, private, international, heliports, and others.
An interesting fact is that the US has almost 4x more airports than Brazil, which is the second country with the most airports.
But why there are so many airports in the US? Let’s take a look at these airports broken down into categories.
By analyzing the pie chart, we can clearly see that most of these airports are small and heliports. As expected, there are many heliports and small airports in private areas throughout the country. Also, 3,676 of these airports are closed, which brings the total number of active airports to a lower number.
From now on, I decided to focus my analysis on the USA because it is the country with the most airports. Now let's see the distribution of these airports from a statewide perspective.
Surprisingly, Texas is the state with the most airports in the country with 2,848. Let’s break them down into categories.
Here again, we can see that most of the airports in Texas are small and heliports. Also, there is a large number of closed airports, which is represented by dark orange in the graph.
Exploring the Airline Crashes Dataset
Now, let’s explore the Airplane Crashes and Fatalities dataset. This data is from 1908 to 2009. As I did with the Airports dataset. I’ll look into which countries or areas have the highest incident numbers.
The symbolization map shows the distribution of fatalities worldwide. The size of the circle represents the number of fatalities. We can clearly see, North America and Russian are the regions with the stronger concentration of fatalities.
Let’s do an airline ranking now. Which airlines have had the deadliest fatalities? and where did they happen? Take a look at the table below. Air India had the deadliest fatality near the Atlantic Ocean with 329 victims. Then, American Airlines is the second deadliest with 271 fatalities by the airport of Chicago.
To conclude, it was very interesting exploring and learning about airports and airplane crashes and fatalities. The objective of this exercise was to put into practice the skills I learned in the Geospatial Data class. I took the exploratory approach because I think graphing as much as possible while using different tools is an efficient way to apply the knowledge acquired in this class. If I had more time, I would have done an in-depth exploratory data analysis applying more statistical principles. Anyway, I have to say this class was a good start point to begin my journey learning about GIS techniques. I loved your teaching style, it worked very well as least for me. Thank you, Dr. Sun