AVSIM Commercial FS9/FSX Scenery Review

Buffalo International Airport

Product Information

Publishers: FlyTampa

Description: Scenery of Buffalo International Airport & Surroundings.

Download Size:
395 MB

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FS9 / FSX
Reviewed by: Aidan Sandri AVSIM Staff Reviewer - December 23, 2010

History of KBUF.

Buffalo International Airport (KBUF), located in up-state New York, founded its name from the 'Buffalo' Niagara Falls metropolitan area. The airport itself serves Buffalo, New York and Ontario, Canada. Buffalo Intl Airport is the third busiest airport in the state of New York, with JFK being the busiest and LGA being the second in terms of boarding numbers.

The airport itself was built in 1926, thus back then was called Buffalo Muni Airport and is one of the oldest airports in the USA. By 1997, it was found to be un-economical to keep renovating the building and the airport was now completely re-designed and from then on called Buffalo International Airport. It now had 14 gates and later increased to 26 by 1999.

Between 2004 to 2010, the first Boeing 747 to land in Buffalo was Air Force One; also the San Diego Chargers made a stopover in a Northwest 747 before proceeding on to London.

Southwest Airlines has the most airline traffic going into Buffalo, with US Airways in second and JetBlue at third. FlyTampa have accurately developed a new fantastic version of Buffalo International Airport and have included the following features into the product:

- High Resolution Ground Textures.
- High Resolution Photo Scenery.
- Hand placed Autogen.
- Seasonal Textures including snow.
- Self Shadowing on most buildings.
- Custom Reflection Maps.
- Volumetric Grass.
- Compatible with Aerosoft's US Cities X - Niagara Falls/Buffalo.

The educational part of the product.

Test System

i5 750 @ 3.5Ghz
Nvidia 9800GT 1Gb
8Gb DDR3 Ram
Windows 7 64

Flying Time:
21 hours

Installing products from FlyTampa has always been straight forward. Once you have purchased the add-on for $26 USD, download the 400MB file and once the product has finished downloading, run the .exe file and follow the instructions given on the screen. Once you have entered your name and serial code, you will be asked which of the items on the screen you wish to add to your scenery, for this review I selected all of them. Depending on your PC Specs, the installation should only take a few minutes, and took me about 3 minutes.

Included into the documentation of this product, is 16 pages of:

- Information regarding the runways and statics about the airport itself.
- Diagrams of the airport.
- Gate Chart
- Installing the Product
- Features
- Performance
- Coverage
- Adding UT2.

I would mainly like to talk about the 'Gate Chart' included in the manual. From all the FSX scenery products I have, I’ve yet to see anything like this. The 'Gate Chart' shows you which airliners park at which gate, which will add that extra bit of realism when you begin your flight. I know that it is just a very small part of the manual, but it is something I believe all developers should add into their manuals at international airports.

Everything else in the manual will help give the simmer a better understanding on how to get the most out of their system. Plus what is covered 'outside' the airport, how to add Ultimate Traffic 2 to the airport and many more features. Although the manual is only 16 pages long, I feel that if it were any longer then it would be overkill, but I would have liked to have seen what approach is taken into each runway, but that could possibly be found on the internet via a quick Google search.

First Impressions, inside the airport.

When I first loaded up Buffalo Airport, I wasn't sure how to start off, do a flight in an A320 from KDFW to KBUF (or the other way around!), or just load a nice GA aircraft and explore what the airport itself has to offer. I choose to fly around the airport in the default R-22 helicopter to see how detailed the airport is and from looking at other work from FlyTampa, and the preview shots of FlyBuffalo, I was hoping I would not be disappointed!

Once my helicopter loaded up and I was sitting in the Virtual Cockpit, I was forced to push my jaw back up before it fell off as the runway straight ahead of me was too detailed to put into words, so I will try my best. The runway has a load (yes, a load, instead of the usual word, 'a lot') of 'effects' put into it. From the yellow taxiway markings, runway touchdown points and numbers, tire marks and in the winter, the snow that resides on the runway. Another company who has developed a few international airports, but mainly GA airports (I will not name them, but you can probably guess who it is), has a 'blurry' end of runway, but this product does not have that 'blurry' feature, making it a crisp and clear view of the entire runway from start to finish.

Once I flew off from the runway, I had a quick fly over the terminals and taxiways and the detail does not end at the runway (hence, does not drop in quality, and only improves!). When flying towards the terminals I was able to locate the taxiway night lights, taxiway signs, taxiway markings and the custom ground vehicles. All seasons inside the airport have custom ground textures where the grass is to represent what season you are flying at that time of year.

Exploring your way around the airport is an enjoyable experience, many will enjoy just flying over it for awhile and relaxing.

First Impressions, outside the airport.

As I mentioned above, I was flying around in the default R-22 to get a good look at what was covered in the product (right now, outside the airport). As with the inside the airport, all four seasons have a custom ground colour to represent what the airport would look like at that time of year. Fall and Winter are different, but when comparing Summer and Spring, I did not notice a difference, only a few extra trees appeared in the Top-Down view.

When flying around, you can notice that it is true photoreal quality textures on the ground as each road connects to another road without trees, houses or rivers over them (like some terrain products), with each house looking where it should be on either a road or a cul-de-sac.

There is a large amount of photoreal with autogen placed throughout the airport, something many GA flyers will appreciate when flying low level over the airport.

A more detailed look, inside the airport.

Now that I have had a quick fly over Buffalo Airport, I flew into and out of the airport, to and from various destinations in Canada and the USA, and first up is a negative. My first flight was from KBUF to KDFW. When trying to connect the jetway to the aircraft using the FSX default key shortcut 'Shift + J,' nothing happened. I searched into this a bit more to see if there was another way of activating the jetway, unfortunately nothing you can do without the use of Aerosoft's AES, which I do not have, but this adds customization to the airport including the movement of the jetways.

Taxing from Gate 6 to the active runway, which at the time was runway 05, I did notice before pushing back that parts of the terminal textures were blurry, though if you look at the terminals in Locked Spot at 0.30 it is hard to notice the blurry textures on the terminal.

Now, enough with the negatives, let’s taxi to the active runway and find some positives! Okay, so we have now pushed back from the gate and the first thing you will notice is that the airport has VERY clear taxiway markings, even though some of them are covered in the blurry snow textures; the parts of the taxiway that aren't covered are very crisp and clear.

The engines are now started, and we are taxiing via Alpha 2 then Alpha which will lead us to Runway 05. Everything during my taxi was detailed from the taxiway signs, to the taxiway lights (for use at night). Minor things like gas tanks, cars and even cracks in the taxiways are included in the scenery, which can all be referred to the pictures below.

Before we move on to the 'departure part', it is worth noting that unlike at default airports, I did not have to use the progressive taxiway lines that the default ATC use to get you to the runway, adding that small bit of realism to the airport itself.

So we are all lined up, ready to give 100% N1 thrust. When looking straight ahead at runway 05, to the right you will be able to see the terminals which we just taxied from and the nice crisp, clear runway straight ahead. We are now on takeoff roll. If you were not looking at your instruments (which you should, especially if you are in a commercial airliner) you can see that everything would appear just like it would if you were actually taking off from Buffalo. There were also tire marks on the runways (showing how used it is)!

Finding the airport on approach is easy to do for a few reasons: The detailed runway, it's hard to miss; and there is no surrounding terrain that it really blends into (by that I mean it isn't a 'region' like from Orbx, for example.)

A more detailed look, outside the airport.

Now, I didn't think it would be good to take an A320 to explore the surrounding terrain in detail, so what better aircraft to use than a nice low and slow aircraft, better known as the Piper Cub (something you would not see at Buffalo)!  I decided out of all the seasons to fly around in, I’d choose the 'Fall' season as it is the most attractive season to fly around in, but all four seasons are colour correct.

First off, the textures outside the airport all appear to be photoreal textures. Some of the textures seem to have autogen placed on top of them, but for a large majority of the product, I did notice that the autogen was 'sparse' and not as much as you would expect when having your sliders set to 'Very Dense.'

This product seems to be focused more for the commercial airliner pilot then the general GA pilot as they will be focused mainly on their instruments. Where the photoreal textures are, the commercial pilots are done with the after takeoff checklist and thus the default FSX will be in place. With that said, GA pilots will enjoy flying over the photoreal areas instead of the bland default FSX scenery.

The main roads/highways are all clearly shown, which makes for great VFR waypoints for the general simmer.

When the sun sets, the moon rises.

The night lighting at FlyBuffalo seems to use the default FSX lighting in some places (the terminals and taxiways do not, but the car parks do). Though this may sound like a turn off, it actually looks very good. From the lights at the parking gates, to the taxiway lights it looks fantastic with their GLOW.

I thought when Orbx YBBN was released that night lighting could not become any better or even be on par with that, but I have been shown wrong as FlyTampa have truly done a fantastic job with the lighting. Even on approach it is hard to miss the runway as it lights up and is easy to see!

The leaves fall in fall, it’s cold in winter, in spring flowers grow, and in summer it’s hot.

Earlier in the review I motioned that all four seasons have custom ground color textures to represent the season. All the seasons represent well on what the actual region would look like at that time of year. The exterior and interior of Buffalo International Airport have the same colored textures. Seasons aren't what a lot of companies accommodate for in their product, hence they don't even add snow (yes, I know I said it was blurry but they put the effort in.. right?) so it was great to see that effort put into this airport.

Smooth as butter, or not?

By 'smooth as butter,' I am actually referring to what the performance is like. Now I can run everything pretty much with all sliders to the right (otherwise known as MAXED), and achieve an excellent FPS rate. FlyTampa are known to have detailed yet at the same time FPS friendly, airports and Buffalo is no exception.

I am able to taxi around in Captain Sim’s 767 (which is a resource hog) and still maintain 35FPS (locked at 35FPS) whilst being smooth. The same goes for GA add-ons from Carenado and A2A.

So what do I think..

FlyTampa have raised the bar again with FlyBuffalo. This airport package represents what all international airports can achieve, highly detailed sceneries yet at the same time still achieve fantastic performance rates. If you are considering getting this package, I seriously cannot see a reason why not to, especially if you fly in the USA with short flights from KJFK, KBOS, KDFW or any other high quality airport by FlyTampa and other vendors.

FlyBuffalo is priced at a bargain $26 USD, now that is underpriced in my opinion considering what is included in this add-on when compared to other add-ons. Well done FlyTampa.

 

What I Like About Buffalo

  • Something I very much like about the manuals, the 'Gate Chart' feature.
  • Those small details are added that simmers will enjoy (visible taxiway markings, taxiway signs and lights).
  • Different ground texture 'colors' to match with what season it is.
  • Night Lighting looks fantastic.
  • As expected from FlyTampa, the frames are excellent.

 

What I Don't Like About Buffalo

  • Blurry snow textures placed among the airport
  • Terminal seems to be blurry.
  • Jetways do not move. Though, this can be fixed by purchasing AES, I feel this should be a free feature and not something people should have to purchase additionally for.
  • Even with autogen settings on 'Very Dense' there is not as much autogen as id expect outside the airport.

 

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Buffalo International Airport

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