Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Computer Engineering and Computer Science

Committee Chair

Ouyang, Ming

Author's Keywords

Flight visualization; Haversine; KML; Flight analysis; Great circle distance; Google Earth API


Flight recorders; Three-dimensional imaging


Human being can easily acquire information by showing the object than reading the description of it. Our brain stores images that the eyes are seeing and by the brain mapping, people can analyze information by imagination in the brain. This is the reason why visualization is important and powerful. It helps people remember the scene later. Visualization transforms the symbolic into the geometric, enabling researchers to observe their simulations and computations (Flurchick, 2001). As a consequence, many computer scientists and programmers take their time to build better visualization of the data for users. For the flight data from an aircraft, it is better to understand data in 3D computer graphics rather than to look at mere numbers. The flight data consists of several fields such as elapsed time, latitude, longitude, altitude, ground speed, roll angle, pitch angle, heading, wind speed, and so on. With these data variables, filtering is the first process for visualization in order to gather important information. The collection of processed data is transformed to 3D graphics form to be rendered by generating Keyhole Mark-up Language (KML) files in the system. KML is an XML grammar and file format for modeling and storing geographic features such as points, lines, images, polygons, and models for display in Google Earth or Google Maps. Like HTML, KML has a tag-based structure with names and attributes used for specific display purposes. In the present work, new approaches to visualize flight using Google Earth are developed. Because of the limitation of the Google Earth API, the Great Circle Distance calculation and trigonometric functions are implemented to handle the position, angles of roll and pitch, and a range of the camera positions to generate several points of view. Currently, visual representation of flight data depends on 2D graphics although an aircraft flies in a 3D space. The graphical interface allows flight analysts to create ground traces in 2D, and flight "ribbons" and flight "paths with altitude" in 3D. Additionally, by incorporating weather information, fog and clouds can also be generated as part of the animation effects. With 3D stereoscopic technique, a realistic visual representation of the flights is realized.