AVSIM Commercial FSX Double Scenery Review

Tonga Domestic and Fua'Amotu International NFTF V2

Product Information

Publishers: Pacific Islands Simulation, LLC

Description: Photoreal Pacific located Scenery for the Kingdom of Tonga plus Fua’Amotu International Airport.

Download Size:
Tonga - 740 MB
NFTF - 160 MB

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FSX
Reviewed by: Peter Hayes AVSIM Staff Reviewer - December 5, 2011

Introduction

Pacific Island Simulations (PIS – renowned developers of PNG/Raw Grit, etc) have produced another couple of winners in these two sceneries, which cover the Kingdom of Tonga and FUA'AMOTU INTERNATIONAL NFTF Airport.  In FSX default as with the Marshall Islands, Tonga is pretty sparse and PIS have added photoreal scenery to this extremely beautiful area   Tonga domestic gives us photoreal coverage of three Tongan island groups, Niuas, Ha'apai, and Vava'u (there are around 176 in the Kingdom) and basically 3 of the major domestic airfields on those islands. I will discuss these in more detail below.

The FUA'AMOTU INTERNATIONAL NFTF Airport scenery covers yet another island group Tongatapu (the main Tongan Island) with a fantastically detailed Fua’amotu International Airport (NFTF).  As I have stated previously that with all of their ‘Pacific’ software, we get beautiful sandy beaches, crashing waves, abundant tropical trees, local vegetation, a plethora of  custom objects, lots of background noise, animated animals and birds, etc, etc.

Background (Courtesy Wikipedia & Tonga Visitors Bureau)

The Kingdom of Tonga (Tongan: Pule’anga Fakatu’i ‘o Tonga), is situated on an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprising 176 islands scattered over 700,000 square km (270,000 sq mi) in the South Pacific, stretching about 800 kilometres (500 mi) in a north-south, around 50 of the islands are inhabited.  Tonga aka ‘The Friendly Islands’ because of the friendly reception given to Captain James Cook on his first visit there in 1773.

The other link to historical fame or should it be infamy is that in Tongan waters, near the volcanic island of Tofua, the famous ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ occurred and Captain William Bligh was set adrift in a small boat.  The population is estimated to be around 110,000 and increasing.

The climate is equitable being a tropical climate with 2 seasons, summer and winter with the rainy season occurring between February and April. They also experience a tropical cyclone season, which lasts from November to April.

Etymologically speaking, the word Tonga means "south", i.e. Tonga is the southernmost group of islands of central Polynesia. The correct pronunciation is toŋa] and not TONGA as used today. The derivation of the name of Tonga could be related to the Hawaiian region of Kona.  It is believed (by many) that the ‘Tongans’ originally came from Samoa and archaeological evidence seems to indicate that the Tongan archipelago has been settled since at least 500 B.C.

Tourism is a big part of the economy and as the Visitor’s Bureau states: The Kingdom of Tonga offers you incredible feasting and dancing, unique handicrafts, heavenly choirs, hiking, diving, snorkeling, fishing, sailing, surfing, kayaking and swimming with whales, so there’s plenty to see and do and PIS have made a good job of bringing this part of paradise to the FSX community.  There are volcanic islands i.e. Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou that lie in the very north of the Kingdom of Tonga, and we will see how PIS has modeled these.

Plants and Livestock

Many Tongans grow root crops such as cassava and yams, kava, vanilla beans, and squash as the major food and cash crops. Food animals are mainly pigs and poultry and horses are kept for various farming tasks e.g. farmers toiling on their ‘api’.  Horses are also eaten primarily during special ceremonial events.  In modern times, cattle production has increased and beef imports are declining.  Fishing is an emerging growth area with tuna, beche de mer, and seaweed being the major species being farmed.

Wikipedia has an excellent article covering Tonga and from the TVB.

Geographically the Kingdom of Tonga lies about a third of the distance from New Zealand and two-thirds to Hawaii.

There are quite a few airports/airfields in the islands, some having paved runways and most having unpaved runways and we have 4 in two scenery packages modeled by PIS and they have faithfully reproduce the surface and position of the fields.

The manual gives some interesting facts and figures about the islands as well as concise FSX details.

History (potted version)

Polynesians have lived on Tonga for about 3,000 years probably migrating from Hawaii.  Due to various explorations, Tonga became a British protected state in the 18th century, but became independent in 1970.

Tonga has a governing king, aided by a group of hereditary nobles and government officials, i.e. since around 1990 the direct powers of the monarchy have been somewhat curtailed.

There is a very good article on the King of Tonga.

Kava (not modeled in this software)

KAVA details

We need to say a few words about KAVA!!  The KAVA plant is a member of the pepper family and an intoxicating and anaesthetizing drink is made from its roots throughout the Pacific Islands, Tonga included.  At the University where I once worked, we were given a demonstration of KAVA making by a visiting Tongan academic and I can tell you that it is a most potent beverage.  The taste did not suit my European taste buds but it was mighty potent even in small doses.  My head was anaesthetized for a week.   Basically, the drink is produced by grinding, chewing or pounding the roots.  (Fortunately, our guide did not use the chewing method!).  It is finally added to water and consumed as quickly as possible!!Which we did.

Kumala or Kumara (not modeled in this software)

Kumara or sweet potato

I should say a little bit about this vegetable although it has nothing to do with flight simulation.  Kumara (the NZ Maori name for the sweet potato), as I know it better, is a member of the sweet potato family and is grown extensively by Polynesian peoples.  There are literally hundreds of varieties grown throughout the world with the color varying through white to yellow to purple.

Kumara belongs to the Convolvulaceae (morning glory) family in the genus Ipomoea i.e. Ipomoea batatas, it is only distantly related to the common or garden potato or spud.  It is an excellent vegetable, full of vitamins and antioxidants and is part of many culinary dishes throughout the world, and you have not lived until you have tried crinkle cut Kumara chips or French Fries even the Colonel serves them here in the antipodes.

Installation and Documentation

Just click on the Kingdom of Tonga.exe file and it installs in the FSX\PacSim\Kingdom of Tonga folder as does FUA'AMOTU INTERNATIONAL NFTF Airport with a combined installed size of approx 1GB.  As I state above "Fua'amotu" and "Tonga Domestic" are separate stand-alone software packages, the simmer activates each separately.  Both products are manually activated through the Scenery Library within FSX (in game). They also appear at FSX root folder within "PacSim" folder. Instructions for activation are written into each product installers (.exe) and can be found at initial stage of product installation (within the  installer).

Test System

Computer Specs

Intel i7 860, 8 GB DDR 1600 RAM, Windows 7 64-bit HP, nVidia GTX560TI 1GB, 280.26 Driver, nVidia Control Panel;
FSX SP1 + SP2 (Gold); 120GB SATA II OCZ Colossus SSD;  (using ext HDD USB 2.0 for this review)
Saitek X52 + Pro Pedals,

No tweaks all standard and no over-clocking. 

Flight Test Time:

41.5 hours

There are two manuals provided covering the basic areas of FSX operation.  Both are concise and so will take very little time to read and/or digest their contents.  The recommended FSX settings are quite high but you do get a richness that you would not otherwise see at lower settings.

The Fua’Amotu International booklet (6pgs) covers the geopolitical history and background to Tonga, including the historical background of the airport, its accurate placement in FSX, Navigational and layout data, product features, FSX settings, and the usual suspects of disclaimers and acknowledgements.

The Tonga Domestic booklet (9pgs) covers similar ground but includes data on the 3 domestic airports modeled by PIS.  Both are well worth reading to give some insight into these fascinating places.

Note: Fua'amotu International is now version 2 (v2), and the following features have been revised:
•        Altered photoreal waterclass to render proper color shades at northwestern end of Tongatapu Island.
•        Brighten photoreal waterclass along shorelines
•        Added wave effects to shoreline
•        Removed default lights causing aircraft "sinking" effect at domestic terminal area. Replaced with custom lights.
•        Removed flickering building at domestic terminal area.
I can concur that these improvements seem to be present in my review copies.

Minimum system requirements: To run FSX with Tonga Domestic and Fua'amotu International

  • OS supported: WinXP, Vista and Win7 32/64 bit platforms with medium to high-end graphic cards. Specific requirements include:
  • Flight Sim Level: Microsoft Flight Simulator X (SP1, SP2/Acceleration)
  • Computer: Pentium IV 2.6 GHz (2GHz Duo2Core Intel and above or equivalent advised)
  • RAM: 1 GB RAM and above recommended
  • Video Card: 256 Mb DirectX 9/10 graphics card (512 Mb or higher recommended)
  • Other: Word for Windows or Adobe Acrobat® Reader 6 minimal to read and print the manual.
  • HDD Disc Space: 200 Mb + 700Mb i.e. around 1 GB for both.

FSX Settings:

  • Autogen Dense to Extreme Dense
  • Mesh Resolution 1 m
  • Texture resolution at least 30 cm
  • AI Leisure boats <30%
  • AI Road Traffic <10%

Even with these settings, I did not notice any significant performance decrease on my system, and it ran extremely smoothly during testing, but I was only using GA planes and the default heavy iron.  There was some drop in frame rates at various times but this did not affect the smoothness, remarkable really when you think that I was running FSX from a USB 2.0 external HDD as my e-sata link failed during the review.

The Islands

Tonga Domestic

PIS Tonga Domestic models 3 domestic Tongan airports that vary in size according to their workload i.e. catering for small to medium type aircraft ferrying local passengers and freight between local Tongan islands and neighboring Fiji, Samoa, Niue and Cook Islands.

The airports are:

  • HA'APAI-LIFUKA AIRPORT NFTL, aka Salote Pilolevu Airport, is the airport for the Ha'apai Group of Islands, and it is situated due 99 nm north of Fua'amotu International (NFTF), and 75nm due south of Vava'u International (NFTV). The airport has an elevation of 126 feet with a single runway 10/28, 3,937ft bituminous/asphalt mixed runway.  The coordinates are S 19° 46' 37" - W 174° 20' 29".
  • VAVA'U INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT NFTV, aka Lupepau'u International Airport, it is located in Vava’u group of islands, being 75nm north of Ha'apai-Lifuka (NFTL) and 173nm from NFTF The airport is located 6 miles north of the capital Neiafu, The airport has a single run way, 08/26, elevation 236’, length 5,600’ and constructed with an asphalt-bituminous mix.
  • NIUATOPUTAPU NFTP, Niuatoputapu is located in the north of the country, 300 km away from Vava’u near the border with Sāmoa, and is 157nm from Vava'u, 230nm from Ha'apai-Lifuka, and 325nm from Fua'amotu International Airport. The airfield has a single runway 11/29 elevation 16’, length 4,265’ and is unsealed being surfaced with coral.
      HA'APAI-LIFUKA AIRPORT NFTL, aka Salote Pilolevu Airport, various screenshots showing the aerodrome layout, lush bush, night textures and surrounding beaches all shot from the A2A Cub.  The detail is just fantastic yet again.

 

VAVA'U INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT NFTV, aka Lupepau'u International Airport.  Showing the various aspects of this lovely airfield down to the tarpaulin clad dilapidated buildings.  The Island is feature rich and quite unique to fly around.

 

NIUATOPUTAPU NFTP, Fantastic spot – loved the Terminal building – chickens and all, lovely specimen trees and not the International toilets.

All the airports seem to be subject to crosswinds, which will make for some interesting flying (see below).  All of the features of small airports are depicted here, buildings, trees, tropical bush animals, etc.  The airport buildings are great with great realism being shown warts and all,  As with NFTF, the night lighting effects are good but I doubt too much night flying takes place at these remote facilities.  You want to fly during the day so that you can see everything.  I will let my screenshots show what I mean.

PIS have made an enormous number of improvements to the default scenery including:

  • •Accurate terminal buildings;
  • •Photoreal coverage of all three islands
  • •Custom runway and ground/apron textured polygons;
  • •Custom vegetation and objects;
  • •3D grass
  • •Upgraded terrain mesh for the airport area;
  • •Complete hand-textured coloration of land and waterclass;
  • •Night lighting and effects;
  • •15/30/60cm/pixel photoreal texture;
  • •Frame rate-friendly;
  • •Runway and apron/tarmac markings;
  • •MyTrafficX compatible for real-world schedules and airline liveries that frequent the Tongan islands;
  • •76m or higher resolution terrain mesh compatible.

Fua'amotu International Airport NFTF  (Courtesy Wikipedia & Tonga Visitors Bureau)

PIS NFTF basically covers this small but interesting International Airport which is It is on the south side of the main island, Tongatapu, 35 km from the capital of Tonga, Nuku'alofa. NFTF is equipped with VOR/DME (114.5) and NDB (245) navigational facilities, and ILS is apparently available, and lighting is only provided for the runway, apron, and taxiway.  All of these features are well represented in the PIS NFTF version.

There are 2 runways 11/29 and 17/35 with the former being the prime runway at an elevation of 126’, length 8,800’ with an asphalt construction.  The other, 17/35 is a grass/soil strip being 5,000’ long.

The night textures are excellent representative of this small busy airport.  As PIS says below the colors are quite something to behold so I can well believe that they all been produced by hand – excellent.  Pressing SHIFT + F does indeed activate the fuel truck so that was a nice touch.

Enhanced features in NFTF include:

  • •Accurate airport terminal buildings;
  • •Photoreal coverage of the whole Tongatapu island and downtown Nuku'alofa
  • •Custom runway and ground/apron textured polygons;
  • •Custom vegetation and objects;
  • •3D grass
  • •Upgraded terrain mesh for the airport area;
  • •Complete hand textured coloration of land and waterclass;
  • •Night lighting and effects;
  • •15/30/60cm/pixel photoreal texture;
  • •Frame rate-friendly;
  • •Runway and apron/tarmac markings;
  • •Active Fuel truck between international and domestic terminals (Shift+F for animation)
  • •Radio navigation enhanced for instrument approaches (ILS/DME, VOR and NDB)
  • •MyTrafficX compatible for real-world schedules and airline liveries that frequent Fua'amotu.
Fua'amotu International Airport NFTF – a glimpse of the features of this airport and island night and day – showing how much there is to see in this stand alone piece of add on scenery.  The detail is incredible and the accuracy means that you set your course and land exactly where you want to.

Tongatapu Island (Courtesy Wikipedia & Tonga Visitors Bureau)

Tongatapu (‘Sacred South’) is the main island of the Kingdom of Tonga and contains the capital Nuku'alofa, it is located in the south, and is the country's most populous island, with a population of approx 72,000 , i.e. 70.5% of the national population.  Tongatapu is Tonga's centre of government and this where the King resides.

General

Now the coastlines resemble the real world, the sand, vegetation; land and sea are what you would expect to see on a tropical paradise, quite a remarkable and amazing transformation, with white coral sands that are blindingly white during the day..  The airfields have the correct buildings, runways, aprons, markings and items such as trees and grass and other features indicative of the local area.  As I say at around noon, the bright white coral sand gives off quite a glare as it does in real life, but at dusk or dawn, the colors are more muted and easier on the eye.

There are AI ships, cars, truck and other animated objects.  You certainly feel the vastness of the area when you fly from one island to another across miles and miles of unending ocean with the occasional ship for company.  I did not see too many birds this time, but there were one or two chickens around static as opposed to dynamic though.

Tonga Domestic Airports/Airfields (see manual for navigation details)

As I state above, PIS modeled 3 Tongan domestic airfields, and as I have stated many times about PIS scenery enhancements these now look more realistic, and they are a significant increase in quality and realism over the default FSX airfields in the same area.  We will look at these in a little more pictorial detail, as I believe that the pictures will give a better impression than any of my verbal descriptions.

They are all realistic to take off and land and dialing up local weather produced some crosswinds, which fortunately were manageable.  There are oodles of detail at each airfield even down to decaying buildings covered in a bright blue tarpaulin!!  Living as I do in a hot climate, steamy, due to recent rains, you can almost feel the heat and humidity at these Tongan aerodromes.

The Vegetation

What more can I say other than, lush, tropical and extremely dense springs to mind, in other words typical of a tropical bush region. (See pictures above).  There is even a specimen tree on Niuatoputapu that you can see for miles – quite a landmark.  The colors are vibrant, I visited Tonga (many years ago) and seem to recall how vivid the colors were, and so the PIS colors seem to be true to life as I remember it.

I turned on DX10 preview for a while and the colors became exceptionally vibrant compared to the default DX9c.  They have packed a lot of trees, bushes, grasses into these 2 scenery packages so that the bush does indeed look very lush and verdant.

The Boats and other AI traffic

There are boats and ships everywhere, liners, cargo ships, warships, small cruisers, yachts, etc etc. too numerous to count and see in this brief visit.  There are also heaps of vehicles, buildings, and other objects (many animated) in this fascinating scenery.

The various AI ships that I spotted, vehicles are included in the screenshots above and below.

AI Air Traffic

PIS recommend My Traffic X as being compatible with these two sceneries; I do not have this installed any more so I did not see too many AI planes at the various airports.  The presence of AI traffic would certainly enhance the experience.

Roads

The roads are well modeled and seem to be accurate when compared to those on Google Earth.

Showing the roads and road traffic – birds eye view

Sounds

As always, nice custom background sounds, being mainly those associated with the sea.

Summary / Closing Remarks

I have to stress that I have reviewed, albeit briefly, 2 separate titles from PIS and in my opinion if you liked this part of the FSX world then you need both of them to do the area justice.  I keep repeating myself with regards to add-on scenery from this company, but the honest truth is that these two packages are quality add-ons for FSX.

I have tried to give an impression on how beautiful and impressive these 2 sceneries are but I am the first to admit that and my superficial review just doesn’t do them justice. Repeating myself again, “Every time that I flew, I saw something new”.  Checkout the great screenshots.

 

What I Like About These Islands

  • Vivid colors
  • Accuracy
  • VFM
  • 2 great representations of the FSX Pacific
  • Good in both DX10 and DX9.0c

 

What I Don't Like About These Islands

  • Nothing of note.

 

Printing

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Tonga Domestic and Fua'Amotu International NFTF V2

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