AVSIM Commercial FS9/FSX Scenery Review

Hawaiian Airports
Volume 1

Product Information

Publishers: FSDreamTeam

Description: Commercial airport scenery add-on.

Download Size:
63 MB

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FS9 / FSX
Reviewed by: Mike Cameron AVSIM Staff Reviewer - November 20, 2010

Introduction
 
FSDreamTeam’s Hawaiian Airports Volume 1 contains two airports, Lihue on the island of Kauai and Hilo International airport on the Island of Hawaii.   I am reviewing the FSX version; a FS9 version is also available at no additional charge since the product serial number will work for both versions.

Lihue is Kauai’s primary airport and can handle both inter-island (both commercial and general aviation) and overseas flights.  Kauai is home to beautiful beaches, water sports and the Waimea Canyon.  Lihue has a tropical climate which means it has pleasant weather year round.  Lihue’s coldest month is January with an average temperature overnight of 65.4°F., and September being the warmest month with an average daytime temperature of 85° F.   June is the driest month of the year with an average of 1.82 inches of precipitation and December is the wettest month with 4.78 inches of precipitation.

Lihue Airport occupies 872 acres of land and is about 1.5 miles from the town of Lihue, on the southeast coast of the island of Kauai.   The airport has two 6500 foot by 150 foot runways, taxiways, aprons, eight gates, a control tower and helipads.   Navigational aids for the airport include ILS, VORTAC, DME and PAPI/VASI. The airports passenger terminal, cargo facilities, the helicopter area and the general aviation facilities are located on the west side of runway 3-21.  The airports fire station is located on the east side of the airport near runway 17-35. Airlines that currently service Lihue are Alaska, American, Delta, US Airways, Hawaiian, Island air, United and Go! Mokulele.

Hilo International Airport occupies 1391 acres of land and is about two miles east of the town of Hilo on the eastern shore of the island of Hawaii.  The island of Hawaii is known as “The Big Island” and is home to active volcanoes, orchid farms, waterfalls and a rugged coastline. The climate of Hilo is somewhat cooler and wetter than Lihue.  Hilo’s coldest month is February with an average overnight low temperature of 63.5°F, and September is the warmest month of the year with an average daytime temperature of 83.4°F.  June is the driest month for Hilo with an average of 7.36 inches of precipitation and November is the wettest month with 15.58 inches of precipitation.

The airport’s primary runway (8-26) is 9800 feet long and is used primarily for air carrier operations.   The crosswind runway (3-21) is 5600 feet long and is used primarily for general aviation traffic.   The passenger terminal including commuter facilities is located at the southern edge of the airport, the general aviation facilities is located along the eastern side of the crosswind runway and the parking apron for transient military aircraft is provided at the western side of the crosswind runway.   Hilo airport is used primarily by interisland airlines which include Hawaiian Air, Island Air and Go! Mokulele.

Test System

Asus G72GX Laptop
Intel Core2 Duo 2.53GHz
6GB DD2 Memory
500 GB Serial ATA HD(5400RPM)
Nvidia GeForce 260M Video Card with 1GB GDDR3 Memory
17.3” LED-Backlit LCD Screen
FSX with Acceleration
Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick.
Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel & Multi Panel

Flying Time:
12.5 hours

Installation and Documentation

Hawaiian Airports Volume 1 is a Try-Before-Buy product.   What this means is that you download the product as a demo first from the FSDreamTeam website, which uses mediafire.com for its file hosting service.   Here is where you may encounter a warning message from your browser’s anti-virus, adware or spyware utility, “That programs downloaded from this site may contain adware, spyware or other potentially unwanted programs”.   My Firefox browser uses the McAfee Site Advisor and the above warning is what I received but I was still able to download the demo without any more issues.    If you do have an issue with downloading the demo, I advise you to visit the FSDreamTeam forum on their website.

Once the demo is downloaded, installation of the product is very easy.   The setup program automatically finds your correct flight simulator directory, installs the files to the correct locations and updates the scenery library without any user intervention.   On my system the whole installation process took less than a minute.

Besides the scenery, the setup program installs two flight simulator modules.   The first module is the Add-on Manager which allows you to purchase and activate the scenery from within FSX.   The second module is the Couatl Engine (YouControl utility) which allows you to interact with the scenery; I will explain more about this module later in the review.   The first time that you start FSX after installation you will be asked by Windows if you trust each of these newly installed modules, depending on your Windows language you will need to select “Execute” or “Run”.  After allowing windows to trust the modules, a similar dialog box from FSX will appear.   Select “Yes” for each of the modules and FSX will now trust these modules each time it is started.

Two documents are included with the installation and they are located in the FSDreamTeam folder in the FSX directory.  These are the Online Purchase, Installation & Activation Guide (18 pages) and the User’s Guide (30 pages).   An eighteen page installation and activation document may seem overwhelming but because the scenery is downloaded as a demo, a couple of options for purchasing and activating the scenery are provided.   This document does a very good job explaining these procedures so I am not going to comment on all of them here.   I am going to discuss the purchase & activation process that I used and it is really very easy.     If you do not want to purchase the scenery through the Add-on Manager in FSX, you can purchase the scenery from the FSDreamTeam website.

After entering your purchase information and your credit card or PayPal account has been approved you will receive an invoice with the product serial number both on your computer and via email. This process happened instantaneously on my system.  When you are ready to activate the scenery, have an active internet connection on your FSX computer, launch the Add-on Manager from FSX and select the “Register Serial” button.  Enter the serial number (I recommend copying and pasting it from the email), and select “ok”.   The Esellerate servers will be contacted to verify the serial number and if correct, the scenery will be activated.   Like the purchase process the activation procedure is very fast, on my system it took less than a minute.

One feature that I like about the FSDreamTeam installation procedure is that once the scenery is activated the program creates a Windows Registry key which includes the serial key for the scenery.   Should you need to reinstall the scenery, double click this registry key file, and the serial number is automatically added to your Windows Registry without the need to use the online activation procedure.

On October 8th 2010, a patch was released that addressed some post release issues that were discovered.   If you have version 1.0 of the scenery, visit the forum on the FSDreamTeam website and download the patch which installs over the top of the current installation.   An update to the full installer will soon be available and if it reads version “1.1” then you do not need to apply the update.

General Scenery

Before commenting on the scenery itself, I want to discuss the demo and the recommended FSX settings.   The timed demo stays on for about six minutes and contains all of the scenery features.   After six minutes the demo stops and reverts back to the default FSX scenery.   If you need more time to evaluate the scenery, exit and restart FSX and the demo timer starts again.

I recommend starting at different parking positions so you can see what the scenery looks like from the various airport locations.   I wish other scenery developers would provide a demo because it is an excellent way to evaluate the scenery before purchase.   Plus, if for some reason the scenery does not perform well on your system, you will know this before spending your money.

The included documentation does a good job explaining the scenery features, purchasing, installing & activating and with providing the relevant charts for both airports but fails to provide the recommended FSX settings for the best experience possible.   In my opinion scenery products should always provide recommended flight simulator settings rather than letting the purchaser adjust the settings by using trial and error.   I own a couple of other Hawaiian airport scenery products and used the settings from those products.    I also asked about recommended FSX settings on the support forum but have yet to receive an answer.

The scenery includes everything that you would expect from a medium to large airport.  Passenger terminals that are modeled from both the aircraft side and the passenger arrival/departure side, jetways, cargo terminals with cargo containers on the ramp, general aviation facilities with parked aircraft, helicopter area, ground equipment & vehicles, rental car terminal with vehicles, parked cars at both the airport parking & general aviation area, control tower and fire station.  Hilo International Airport also includes scenery objects representing the old terminal, tower and military parking facilities on the western side of runway 3-21. Also included are very realistic looking palm trees that you would expect from airports in Hawaii.

When comparing the scenery to the included airport diagrams and Google Earth Maps, the scenery objects appear to be accurately placed.   The quality of the included ground objects is varied.   The passenger terminal’s gates & jetways are very detailed and are very good looking.   Some of the other airport buildings have textures that look ok and have a three dimensional look to them while others look more like FSX default buildings with  blurry looking textures and widows & doors that look painted on the buildings.   Also, signage on some buildings is blurry but still readable.

On the positive side, all of the building textures have a weathered look to add to the realism of the scenery and the night lighting effects is also very good.   Both of the airports runways, taxiways, lights, navigation lights and signage are realistic looking and also appear to be in their correct locations.

The airport ground vehicles and equipment are very realistic looking but the various parked cars look like cardboard cutouts with sharp angles and are not as realistic looking as the parked cars & trucks in some other scenery that I own.

Hilo Cargo Terminal
Hilo Passenger Terminal - Passenger Arrival Side
Hilo Terminal
One Of the Open Hangar’s
Lihue Cargo Terminal
Lihue Tower
Lihue Passenger Terminal – Gate Side
Lihue Airport from Public Parking Side
Parked Cars at General Aviation Hangar
Wonderful Looking Night Lighting

Sounds, Animations & Extra Features

The only sound effect that I heard were the engine sounds of the airport vehicles when they are nearby.  I like this because it adds to the realism of the scenery.   Since these airports are located in a tropical climate it would have been nice to have some sound effects of birds included also.  I personally like having bird sound effects at airports and if done right really adds to the overall experience.  Since there are no birds flying around that is probably why these sounds are not included. A control panel that allows you to control the sound effects would be great and if the end user does not like a sound effect they can turn it off.

Animations include moving airport fuel trucks & fire engines, jetways (both user controlled and AI controlled), animated palm trees (my favorite) and user controlled hangar doors via the included YouControl utility in FSX.  On my system, the animations had no effect on performance.

The YouControl utility probably can be considered an extra feature.   Another extra feature is the ability to adjust some of the FSX.cfg settings via the previously mentioned Add-on Manager, so if you have read about an awesome FSX tweak, you may be able to adjust that setting here.
The Animated Palm Trees
Moving Airport Fire Engine
Hilo Passenger Terminal with Animated Jetways
General Aviation Hangar with Door Open
Partially Open Doors on Air Kahui Hangar

Summary / Closing Remarks

My first impression of this scenery was that it was mediocre at best.  When I install premium, non photoreal scenery on my system, I expect all of the ground objects to be detailed and of high quality.  A small number of buildings have blurry looking textures and some of the parked vehicles have an odd shape too them and do not look like realistic cars & trucks.

After spending some time at these airports my opinion has changed.   FSDreamTeam has done a lot of things right with this product and not having all of the ground objects be of the same quality does not detract from a wonderful experience.    Also, when viewed from a distance or at night, you probably will not even notice.

Both of these airports have commercial, cargo, general aviation & helicopter facilities so the scenery should appeal to all flight simulator pilots who like to fly either large or small aircraft.   Hawaiian Airports Volume One is a good value because it includes two airports for one price.   Of the two airports, I liked Hilo more than Lihue, simply because Hilo is a more unique airport with the included old section of the airport.   Lihue is nice but is more modern and looks like a lot of other large airports.

I like that a demo is provided because it allows the potential purchaser to see if this is the right product for them.

 

What I Like About Hawaiian Airports Vol 1

  • The try before you buy feature.
  • Animated palm trees and airport vehicles.
  • The scenery is frame rate friendly.
  • Good night lighting.
  • Good value for the money.
  • Engine sound effects of the airport vehicles.

 

What I Don't Like About Hawaiian Airports Vol 1

  • Some of the buildings have blurry textures and some of the parked vehicles are unrealistic looking when viewed up close.
  • No animated birds or sound effects.
  • User Guide does not include recommended FSX settings.
  • Your computer’s security software may give a warning message when accessing & downloading the demo.

 

Printing

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Hawaiian Airports Volume 1

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