Why Shipwrecks Are Included on In-Flight Maps

by SharonKurheg

When you’re on a plane, the in-flight entertainment (well, if there is any…) could have many options. Movies, TV shows, games, music channels…lots of stuff to keep you occupied. Sometimes you might want to have an idea of where you are and what you’re flying over, so there’s usually an in-flight map, too.

Screen Shot 2020-01-25 at 7.18.00 PM

But you may have noticed that if you’re flying over the ocean, although some oceanic ridges or trenches might be marked, you may also see a little more than you expected.


Yes, shipwrecks. So, what’s up with that?

  • CSS Alabama (sunk off the Normandy coast during wartime, 1864)
  • SS Andrea Doria (sunk off the coast of Nantucket due to a collision, 1956)
  • RMS Douro (sunk off the coast of Spain due to a collision, 1882)
  • HMS Edinburgh (sunk in the Barents Sea during scuttling, 1942)
  • Stora Kronan (sunk in the Baltic Sea during wartime, 1676)

All these shipwrecks, and more, might be on your in-flight screen.

Screen Shot 2020-01-25 at 6.39.25 PMWhy? Well, why not? Seriously, they’re there simply to make the picture more interesting. And you can thank a company called Collins Aerospace for the visuals.

Collins Aerospace (previously known as Rockwell Collins until December 2018) is a multinational firm based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and the bulk of its business is aviation. Commercial aviation, business aviation, defense & government, airports, you name it. One of the things they build is seatback touchscreen monitors and their moving map feature is called Airshow.

Clint Pine, who had a 20+ year history at Collins Aerospace and was a program manager for Airshow, told Conde Nast Traveler in 2017 that the shipwreck info began being added in 2004:

“When traveling over the ocean, there are often large portions of the flight where only water is visible…Airshow includes shipwrecks and other undersea items so that passengers can be informed about items that they are flying over but cannot visually see.”

So yeah…they do it because they can.

Not all airlines

Not all airlines offer this perk(?).  CN Traveler specifically mentioned American Airlines, British Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, and China Eastern Airways, but there could be others.

So the next time you’re flying overseas, check your in-seat map and see if any shipwrecks are listed. Just don’t think about the fact that they went down while traveling on the same waterway you’re traveling over that very moment. I mean, as long as you’re not seeing them live and in person, you’re good 😉

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