AVSIM Commercial FSX Scenery Review

YSCB Canberra Airport

Product Information

Publishers: FTX Orbx

Description: Australian scenery add-on .

Download Size:
1.2 GB

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FSX
Reviewed by: Peter Hayes AVSIM Staff Reviewer - June 8, 2011

Introduction

FTX AU YSCB Canberra Airport is yet another airport title from the Orbx FTX group who are quite famous for their superlative 'add-on scenery' for FSX.  This airport is situated in the excellent FTX Australia series and is yet another enhanced airport for that continent.

In FSX, Canberra YSCB is almost non-existent, and while FTX Au Blue improved the airport scenery enormously, this paid add-on takes the visual experience to the next level with oodles of detail, including, taxi-ways, aprons, buildings, vehicles, moving people and roads. As I have noted on many previous occasions, is that with all the ORBX FTX scenery, if you are not careful you can spend more time on the ground than in the air as there is so much to see.

Canberra YSCB is an exciting and innovative add-on that makes for high detail VFR flying in FSX.  In addition, it fits seamlessly with Orbx' FTX – Australia AU BLUE, as you would expect it to.  To recce the airport and the surrounding area, I used the FSAddon Super Cub, the default Bell, Real Air Scout, default B-737, and the ubiquitous 'ORBX BOB' as my exploration vehicles.

FTX AU Canberra airport YSCB is modelled in this version at a 7 - 15 cm resolution with the northern regional area of Canberra being presented at a resolution of 60 cm, (Canberra City and ACT in FTX Au Blue are at 1m resolution) ideal for VFR flying.  I did experience a modicum of impact on frame rates but it was still a smooth visual experience.  As I have stated many times before, it would be difficult to go back to the default FSX airport having flown in this one.

Background: (courtesy Wikipedia)

Canberra City & The Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

Canberra is Australia's capital city, it is situated in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), and it has a population of nearly 350,000, it is located 280 km from Sydney, and 660 km from Melbourne.  In 1908, when Australia became a federated nation, it was decided to build a site for the new parliament in Canberra, resulting in a formal planned city carefully draped around the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.  The aboriginal people of Australia have lived in Canberra and its surrounds for over 20,000 years and it is believed that the name Canberra may be derived from the aboriginal word for meeting place, 'Kambera'.  However, there may be other derivations for the name.

Canberra occupies an area of around 820 km², is located near the Brindabella ranges (and the Great Dividing Range), and is approximately 150 km from the East Coast of Australia.  It has an elevation of around 600 m and the highest point is Mount Majura at around 900 m.  It is totally surrounded by native forests, with the eucalypt species being the predominant tree.  Initially logging was a prime industry, but due to the depletion of the native forests, this has now been abandoned except in plantation forests.

It is an extremely pleasant city with many parks and it is built around a huge lake (Lake Burley Griffin) in the middle of the city, the roads are excellent and the number of trees adds to a park-like atmosphere.  Canberra has an excellent airport that is serviced (at the present time) only by domestic carriers mainly ferrying federal politicians to and from the Australian Parliament.  This is a very good wine growing area and the city is surrounded by wineries, and extensive bush land with trails for walking, etc.  The climate is it equitable, being warm to hot in the summer and cool to cold in the winter, with not too much rain.  There are also millions of sheep and tiny irritating flies.

Canberra Airport YSCB: (courtesy Wikipedia & Canberra Airport)

Canberra Airport, YSCB services Australia's capital city, Canberra, and the city of Queanbeyan, NSW and is located at ENE Canberra.  It is the 8th busiest airport in Australia, having only domestic flight traffic.  The airport has two runways, 17/35 which is 3,273m (10,738') long with Asphalt paving and the 12/30 runways 1,679m (5,509') long also with Asphalt paving at an elevation AMSL of 1888 ft / 575 m.  

The domestic airlines flew >3,000,000 passengers to and from YSCB in 2009.  Two new terminals have been planned with the Southern Extension of the new terminal being completed in November 2010, and the Western Extension to be constructed and completed by 2011/2012. 

The new 'Southern Terminal Concourse' has in the region of 8 x fully glazed aerobridges (jetways) with parking positions available for a total of 14+ aircraft, ranging from the Metro to B747 planes.  It also has a fully capable international terminal with dedicated customs, immigration and quarantine facilities, should it ever be needed, i.e. for all of those foreign VIP's (ambassadors, trade delegates and the like) who live and work in Canberra. (The FTX version is the pre-Southern terminal model and depicts the old terminal facilities, but the locations of various parts of the airport complex are largely unchanged.)

The Airport is located about 8–10 minutes drive from the city centre, and is usually easy to access except at peak traffic times.  The airport has 5 discrete areas:

  • The passenger terminal and GA terminal are on the south -western side of the main runway 17/35.
  • The Brindabella Business Park is adjacent to the passenger terminal, is set in 28 hectares of landscaped grounds with stunning sculptures and water features.
  • Part of the ex-RAAF base, now known as Fairbairn (home to RAAF No 34 Squadron), is on the eastern side of the main runway 17/35.
  • The Remainder of the ex-RAAF base area has been named Fairbairn Park (it is the third commercial precinct at Canberra Airport), occupying a massive area of >90 hectares.
  • Majura Park is another retail and mixed use business area (discount retail) located at the NW sector of the airport.

(These are all included in FTX YSCB see below).

Typical Australian Domestic Destinations:

Airlines Destinations
Brindabella Airlines Albury, Brisbane, Newcastle, Tamworth
Qantas Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney
QantasLink Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney
Tiger Airways Australia Melbourne
Virgin Australia Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney, Townsville

 

Canberra Airport YSCB Old Terminal Layout
courtesy Google Earth

Installation and Documentation

Using the download option, you extract the zip file and run the OrbxFTXAUYSCB100.exe file produced.  You the fill in your order number, date of purchase and key and the installation is seamless.  During the extraction a 'readme text' file is generated that warns about having .NET framework 3.5 pre-installed (as with many FSX packages).

Test System

Computer Specs

Intel i7 860, 8 GB DDR 1600 RAM, Windows 7 64-bit,
nVidia GTX560 1GB, 260.99 Driver, nVidia Inspector 1.95.5;
FSX SP1 + SP2; 120GB SATA II OCZ Colossus SSD;
Saitek X52 + Pro Pedals,

No tweaks all standard and no over-clocking.

Flight Test Time:
42.5 hours

In the user guide, you are also given a method for installing from the DVD edition (as available).  The configuration in the FSX scenery library is usually automatic but again the manual displays a manual method if needed.

Ver. 1.1 Patch:

I also installed ver. 1.1 SP1 which includes the following updates:

  • Static airliners option
  • People flow animated ground staff
  • Updated YSCB control panel options
  • Choice to use static airliners or AI traffic
  • Native FSX option to disable ground polys for medium spec PCs
  • Revised texture formats to relieve GPU load.

ORBX Libraries:

Once installed it is imperative to re-install the latest ORBX libraries as this will update many of the ancillary AI objects and textures including, in this case, people flow.

The User Guide:

The User Guide, entitled, "FTX AU CANBERRA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT V 1.1", is 23 pages long in pdf format, and is saved to the desktop during installation.  It is quite a comprehensive document covering an introduction, ORBX FTX Aus requirements, compatibility, history, geography, sights, installation (auto and manual), features, system requirements, coverage area, recommended FSX quick reference settings, community forums and details of the airport (charts) which are all included.  Also included are details of the FTX Aero Tool and the YSCB control Panel.  It covers any aspect that you need to know about this scenery.

FTX YSCB Manual ver. 1.1

FTX Aero Tool for YSCB:

During installation of the software, the Aero Tool is loaded to the desktop and it is basically an 'enhancement' environment rendering tool with 3 main functions:

1.       Detail Bump Map
This adds realistic textures to the runway surfaces, including default, coarse, fine soft or cracked surfaces.

2.       Runway 18 Texture
Here you can choose the resolution of the runway, with default, 1024 x 1024 and 2048 x 2048.  The latter are magnificent)

3.       Taxiway Markings
This changes the taxiway markings with default, single yellow or double yellow as options.

FTX Aero Tool

YSCB Control Panel

During installation, the YSCB control panel is loaded to the desktop and it manages the complexity of the detail that you want to experience in YBCS.  You can disable or enable any feature and by default, all selections are enabled.  You can select such items as:

  • Ground poly type and static airliners (4 levels + 2 x default FSX i.e. no ground polys with or without static AI): In the Release notes for ver. 1.1 in the manual it is recommended to choose the default FSX options if your PC struggles with ground polys.
  • Car Placement: - 4 Levels: Off, Lite; Medium & Heavy:
  • Mesh & Fences type - 2 levels: More Detail & Less Detail:
  • Industrial Estate Density - 2 levels: Lite & Heavy:
  • Other - 3 x choices: Light Poles, Ground Service Equipment, Ground Service People.
YSCB Control Panel Options

FSX Set up:

The manual gives excellent guidelines on how to set YSCB up optimally in FSX.  Using the default recommended settings; I saw some minor performance impact but the stunning visuals more than made up for that.  There are also recommended FSX slider controls for Graphics, Aircraft, Scenery, Weather and Traffic and again following these settings balances quality to performance. 

There is even a section on the Autogen Density slider with values being given for computers from 'entry level' types such as Core2duo @ 2.5GHz plus moderate GPU, to an 'extreme' type such as an i7 9xx @ 4GHz and state of the art video card.  I set my i7 860 to Mid to High End and did see some slight drop in performance, i.e. lower fps, but it was always a smooth experience.

The Scenery - Simvisualisation of the Airport – Avsimvista

Accurate and vividly detailed are the descriptors that spring to mind when you select and explore this airport scenery.  FTX have wisely restricted the scenery to the main airport area and have not re-modelled Canberra City including Lake Burley Griffin and the Parliament buildings surmising that these would already be well modelled in FTX AU Blue. 

However, the suburbs of Queanbeyan (not all), Harman, Fyshwick (you can almost see the Go-carts whizzing around the track), Pialligo and a little bit of Campbell are included albeit at 60cm regional coverage.  They have also modelled (very accurately) the Canturf farm at Fyshwick with the round circle(s) of the turf farm depicted in 60cm resolution. 

Also depicted (I may have missed some) are the Fairbairn Golf Course, Fairbairn Pine Plantation, Jerrabomberra Wetlands, part Symonston, Canberra Nature Park, Mt Ainslie, Mt Majura, Majura Pine Plantation, Redwood grove park, The cross shaped aircraft beacon, Mt Coree, plus two small forest plantations either side of Sutton Road.

An overview of YSCB from the air and ground showing the surrounding environs and attached Industrial Estates

Terminals:

The terminals are accurately depicted within the scenery showing the airport before the 'Southern Terminal Extension' was completed.  There is even a 'building site' depicting the area that will eventually be the 'Southern Extension.  All the terminal buildings are accurately placed with regards to apron, taxiways and runways.  All of the old terminal gates are included as well as the GA ramps and parking areas.

General Views of the Canberra Terminals including the construction area of the now opened Southern Terminal

People Flow

This is a new innovation now active in several FTX add-on airports including YSCB, and it does add to the experience to see not only AI traffic and vehicles moving but now we have baggage handlers and other airport personnel and the like perambulating about in a very realistic manner.  It is quite amazing to see a baggage handler putting your luggage onto a moving conveyor belt and watch it disappear into the plane. Awesome!  Here is a still photograph to illustrate what I mean.

People Flow in Action - note the raised hand!

The Runways, Aircraft Taxiing and Parking

The taxiways are accurate with excellent textures (including the grass and asphalt), great lighting and very clear signs guiding you to the departure or parking point.  There are two runways and these are faithfully reproduced down to the asphalt surface, they look worn enough to have been used.  Again, I used the default FSX taxi pointers to taxi the default B737 from the runway and taxi to the “gates” and vice versa, i.e. taxi from the gates to the runway.  There are around 6 air-bridges or jetways (the new Southern Terminal has 8 fully glassed jetways) but they do not appear to be docking with a particular aircraft and I couldn't get them to work with the default FSX CTRL + J.

YSCB is accurately depicted in terms of official charts covering runway heading, RNAV, GPS, ILS/LOC, DME, NDB, GNSS etc.  Approaches using STAR RAZZI according to the chart results in accurate placement on final and the appropriate SID procedure likewise.  The various runway lights, beacons, etc are numerous and accurately placed in the sim.  The various charts for YSCB are available online.

IFR Flights:

Flying an IFR flight from Brisbane in poor visibility, in a default B737 and using the GPS for navigation, I had no issues in finding the correct runway at YSCB and being directly in line when I re-emerged from the low level gloom.

Showing the various taxiways and runways in FTX YSCB

Night Textures

These are excellent; the buildings, the lights, and the runways are beautifully lit much, much better than the default.  The pictures I publish can’t really do justice to this unique piece of software.  Some of the lights were very bright and dazzling, so I used the lighting option in FTX 3D Lights Tweaker eventually settling on "Holger" lights.  Even so, the lights were still extremely bright.

The various night lighting features of FTX YSCB, all changed using FTX Central and the light 'tweaker'.

AI Traffic

There was quite a lot AI traffic as this works very well with the freebie add-on from FTX,  AU traffic ver. 3.02, adding to the simming experience and a couple of times I had to wait in a queue to take-off.

Surrounding scenery

YSCB blends totally in with the FTX AU Blue surrounding scenery.  I couldn't find the seam!

The Vegetation, Roads, and Car Parks

Very realistic but not customisable via a menu as in some other FTX titles.  The local 'forests' and vegetation where shown were dense and realistic.  The roads inside both the airport and the access roads and interchanges are all accurate and well modelled and the car parks contain nice 3D models that do not flatten as you approach at ground level.

At a couple of bridges I did see some slight mismatch in the textures but I was right in close and it would be something that you would NOT notice at 5,000'.  At the real YSCB there is now a 2 level U-shaped road, one upper for departures and one lower for arrivals.  This is not depicted by the FTX team, as it was not built when they developed YSCB, instead they accurately depict the old road access layout.

The various scenery features that you can find in FTX YSCB, The car parks; Brindabella layout, suburbs, canturf turf farm;
Cross trees beacon; Fairbairn Golf Course, Communications tower, Forest areas, and fence details.

Sounds:

I did not notice any special sounds other than the usual AI traffic etc.

Support:

Support is via the FTX Payware forum, where no question goes unanswered.  http://www.orbxsystems.com/forum/forum/15-full-terrain-experience-ftx-payware-support-forum/

Places of Interest

  • Jerrabomberra Wetlands (spot the platypus or platypuses or should that be platypi?)
  • Redwood Grove Park
  • Fairburn Golf Course
  • Canberra Nature Park
  • Kevin Rudd

Like it Scale:    

Summary / Closing Remarks

This was a very enjoyable experience using this quality add-on for FSX.  In my review I couldn't cover every aspect of FTX YSCB so instead I attempt to show the most important features of this fabulous airport scenery.

It really does enhance the simming experience, especially if you are like me, a low-level GA Flyer.  This is a great improvement over the default scenery, it is much more realistic and is accurately mapped so both accurate VFR and IFR flights are possible.

Now all we have to do is to persuade Hugh Johnston to upgrade the airport when the Western Terminal is completed in 2012.

 

What I Like About Canberra

  • Superb scenery
  • Accuracy and detail

 

What I Don't Like About Canberra

  • No people flow air hostesses

 

Printing

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YSCB Canberra

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