Articles | Volume 4
06 Jun 2023
 | 06 Jun 2023

Evaluating and Comparing Airspace Structure Visualisation and Perception on Digital Aeronautical Charts

Adrian Sarbach, Thierry Weber, Katharina Henggeler, Luis Lutnyk, and Martin Raubal

Keywords: cartographic analysis, aviation map, airspace structure, evaluation grid, user study

Abstract. Given the challenge of visualising 3D space on a 2D map, maps used for in-flight navigation by pilots should be designed especially carefully. This paper studies, based on existing aeronautical charts, the visualisation, interaction, and interpretation of airspace structures with aviation infrastructure and the base map.

We first developed a three-tiered evaluation grid for a cartographic analysis of existing aeronautical charts. Subsequently, we evaluated four countries’ maps based on our evaluation grid. To validate our analysis, we conducted a user study with 27 pilots, the users of aeronautical charts.

The results of our cartographic analysis show that aeronautical charts produced by different countries all fulfil the need of pilots being able to orient themselves. According to our evaluation, the Swiss aeronautical chart scored slightly more favourably than the other evaluated charts for effective map-reading. These findings were confirmed in the results of the user study.

The major contribution of this work is the evaluation grid for the cartographic analysis. With its different layers, adaptable main- and sub-topics, it can be used to compare and improve the design not only of aeronautical charts, but for a broad spectrum of thematic maps.