Shanghai Pudong Int'l Airport by ImagineSim
A review by Werner Gillespie
Shanghai Pudong International Airport (ZSPD) is the primary airport serving Shanghai and a very important hub for aviation from across Asia. The airport itself covers 40 square kilometers (9 900 acres) and is adjacent to the coastline in Eastern Pudong.
The airport is the main hub for China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines, and a major international hub for Air China. It is also the hub for privately owned Juneyao Airlines and Spring Airlines, and an Asian-Pacific cargo hub for UPS and DHL. The DHL hub, opened in July 2012, is said to be the biggest express hub in Asia.
Pudong Airport has two main passenger terminals, flanked on both sides by three parallel runways. A third passenger terminal is planned for 2015, in addition to a satellite terminal and two additional runways, raising its annual capacity from 60 million passengers to 80 million, along with the ability to handle six million tonnes of freight.
Pudong Airport is a fast-growing hub for both passenger and cargo traffic. With 3,227,914 metric tonnes handled in 2010, the airport is the world's third busiest airport by cargo traffic. Pudong Airport also served a total of 40,578,621 passengers in 2010, making it the third busiest airport in mainland China and the 20th busiest in the world. As of December 2011, Pudong Airport hosted 87 airlines serving 194 destinations.
Shanghai Pudong is the busiest international hub of mainland China, ranking 22nd globally in terms of international traffic. About half of its total passenger traffic is international.
With that background information, let’s jump in and have a look at Imagine Simulation’s FSX/FS9 offering...
Installation and Documentation
The file that you download is 97.4 MB large and contains the following once unzipped:
- An HTML readme file, which is one page long and deals with installing and uninstalling the scenery, how the AI traffic operates and has a little information on the installation keys; and
- The installer of the scenery itself.
Installing the package is a little unique in my experience being you receive an encrypted zip file that you need to enter a serial number (you will receive via e-mail) in order to extract the package. Once the package is extracted, you have to enter another serial number to be able to install the scenery into FSX. This is double protection against software piracy then and in today’s world this is certainly understandable.
Installation as I said was a breeze. It took about a minute or two to run through the installation. Once the installation is complete, FSX does the rest for you in the scenery library once you start FSX up for the first time after installation and presto, you can use the scenery!
The documentation is nothing more than a simple set of instructions on how to get the scenery installed. To be honest though, you don’t really need much more since there are no complex processes to complete before or after installation. No complaints here let us move on...
A Look at the Airport
We will now have a look around the airport to see what it looks like and to be honest, I will include screenshots more than write an in depth review, since we really want to see what the airport actually looks like don’t we? Okay then...
Firstly, from doing some preliminary research and having a look at some of the videos and photo’s from different sources on the internet, it seems that the dimensions, taxiways, runways and the like are all present and correct.
A further look around the airport and you can see that the jetways are very nicely detailed
The tarmac has its own distinctive texturing, and so do the runways. It is not the default texturing, but to be fair that is in the very least what you would expect from a payware scenery add-on.
Each terminal has an indicator, which will tell you when you are properly parked at the particular gate, which is in essence a lighting system as we have become accustomed to seeing at large airports. It works very well!
There are no airline specific parking for a particular gate position. Only HSBC is indicated on the boarding ramps. Here I have to admit that there is one aspect which I was a little disappointed with and that is that the boarding ramps do not actually move.
The areas where grass and tarmac meet in-between the taxiways and runways also blend in very nicely. It looks quite realistic.
Here is a look at the taxiways signs around the airport - beautiful!
At night the airport comes alive with lights. The lighting is beautifully done and adds to the immersion of the airport. Look at a nighttime approach...
Yes, the approach is a little high but this is actually more of a fly over than an approach, since I wanted to show you the blurring effects of the lights, very nicely done!
As the next shot shows you, another thing that is done very nicely is the blending in of the airport with the surrounding scenery. This was done beautifully and quite seemlessly. One thing that can be a bit of turn off in airport scenery is if the airport sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of the terrain. At least for me that is! I guess that reminds me a little too much of the FS 95 days!
Here is another beautiful feature of the airport - the transparent glass of the terminals! This is the first time I have come across this feature in add-on airport scenery!
In conclusion as far as the airport visuals are concerned I can say that when landing here, I can feel that this is in fact the airport it purports to be. It has a good used look to the runways and taxiways and the physical feel and look of the airport is all there. All the little details come together to give you that "I'm there" feeling. As far as that is concerned, the experience is immersive and authentic. I liked it!
This is the area where my first real grip comes from. Remember however I don't have the latest and greatest in hardware! I own a Q9550 Core2Quad machine with 6GB RAM and a GTX 480 Geforce with 1.5 GB RAM. When I fly approaches to the airport in good weather and during the day, I really lag a little in performance. I don't really get up to those 20 frames per second mark. It is not terrible, sitting at around 16 - 18 fps, but not that good either. Again, my hardware is a little dated so others may not have this issue.
I tested this with my PMDG 747-400X, the NGX and the 777X. As is to be expected the 747 did slightly worse than the NGX, which faired slightly worse than the 777X, since PMDG obviously refined their products over the years. When I try to fly the approach in the dark with the lighting system, it taxes my system more, dropping another 3-4 fps and getting slightly choppier. Adding bad weather doesn't make it any better!
Now folks as I said, my hardware is ancient by today's entry level machines, but to put this into perspective for you, the hub of my VA which I fly from is situated at Chicago O' Hare International (KORD) and for this I use the FS Dreamteam scenery. This scenery is a work of art as well, and no matter what PMDG aircraft I use and what the weather is, I don't battle to get over 20 fps.
So having said that, there could be some room for improvement in terms of the performance of the scenery fps wise, but I can live with the amount of frames I am getting. I should add that these figures are obtained from an environment free of AI aircraft. That may be something to ponder over too!
In the end what it comes down to, is that old bug bear that we have to live with as simmers - trading visual quality for performance.
So in conclusion then, the scenery is very well done, a little heavy on the frame rates, but not too bad either. It is not so bad that you cannot live with it. The airport is visually immersive. A lot of effort has gone into the lighting system that pushes up the immersion another notch. I enjoy flying into the airport despite the slightly worse performance that I am getting.
If you fly here often for your VA or if you do so simply because you like it, the airport will definitely tickle your fancy! Apart from the slightly increased performance hit I get, there is nothing that turns me off from the airport itself. Even the static jetways cannot turn me off. I also have a feeling that if you have a better machine than I do, you might not experience the slightly worse performance I get.
All in all, I would definitely say that it is worth the money you spend on it. The price - EUR 24.99. Yes it is might be on the expensive side but I feel that it is not one of those sceneries where you would look at it and feel that somehow it feels EUR 10 - 15 more expensive than it should have been. The developers have got a winner here!
What I like about it:
- Very high detail airport
- Seamless integration with surrounding terrain
- Excellent lighting system
- Used look of all textures
- Custom texture set
- High level of immersion in and around the airport
- They do still have an FS9 version available, which is becoming a rarity amongst developers these days!
What I didn't like
- Heavy on frames
- Static jetways