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    REVIEW - KAUS Austin International Airport by Imaginesim for P3D


    WR269

    Review

    by Mike Cameron

    Introduction

       I am reviewing the recently released upgrade of Imaginesim’s KAUS – Austin Bergstrom International Airport for Prepar3D Version 3.  Imaginesim also provides free upgrades to owners of the FSX and P3D V2 versions of the original version of this scenery.

     Information for the introduction was gathered from www.austintexas.gov and www.airnav.com websites.

     

    Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is named after Captain John August Earl Bergstrom, while at age 34 on December 8, 1941, serving as an administrative officer with the 19th Bombardment Group, stationed at Clark Field in the Philippines.  In tandem with the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese air attacks were carried out against Clark Field and other military areas in the Philippines.  Captain Bergstrom was killed during this attack, was also a graduate of Texas A&M University and was also the first resident of the City of Austin Texas to be killed in World War II.  At the urging of his former employer, the Austin National Bank and Lyndon B. Johnson, who at this time was a member of the US House of Representatives from the Texas 10th District convinced the US Army Air Force to name the base recently opened in Austin after Captain Bergstrom.  On March 3, 1943, the Del Valle Airfield was officially renamed Bergstrom Army Airfield and was renamed Bergstrom Air Force Base after the Air Force became its own military branch in 1948.  The base would retain its name until it was decommissioned in the early 1990’s with all military aviation ceasing in 1995.

    Before Bergstrom Air Force Base was decommissioned, the largest municipal airport in Austin was Robert Mueller Municipal Airport.  It was owned by the City of Austin and was officially dedicated on October 14th 1930.  The main terminal building was dedicated in 1963 and expanded in 1983.  The east terminal was dedicated in April, 1990 and the Federal Inspection Station located near the terminal was completed in 1995.  Like many older airports, Mueller was located on the outskirts of town in 1930.  Over the years, the city of Austin’s population grew rapidly becoming a high tech hotspot.  Flights into the city also increased substantially, as more businesses were started and both import and export cargo also increased dramatically.  Eventually Mueller, which was now landlocked on 711 acres in the middle of the city, with urban growth on all sides was not an ideal situation for a major regional airport.  With the closed Air Force base located eight miles outside of town, this proved to be an outstanding opportunity for the City of Austin, Texas to meet the travel needs for the region well into the future.  After closure, the bases land was returned to the City of Austin and the former Air Force Base would prove ideal for Austin’s new airport.  In May 1999, Robert Mueller Municipal Airport was closed to commercial passenger traffic and Austin – Bergstrom International Airport opened to the public on May 23, 1999.  Because the new airport was adjacent to the city, the site was large enough to meet growing needs, runways and other facilities already existed and the surrounding area was sparsely populated.  City officials pledged that no tax dollars would be used to build Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.  Even though the city owns the airport, it is not supported by the City’s General Fund.  The people and businesses that use the airport pay for the entire ongoing budget.  All revenue generated by the airport goes back into its operations, covering its operating expenses.  The airport has been named one of the best airports in the world according to Airport Service Quality Awards.  Among the numerous awards, 2011 marked the fifth year to earn a ranking in the top five airports in North America and the world for excellence in customer service.

     

    FAA Information Effective 21st July 2016

    FAA Ident: AUS

    Elevation: 541.6 feet

    Location: 5 miles SE from Austin, Texas city center

    KAUS is opened to the public with a control tower, white-green beacon that operates from sunset to sunrise, has ARFF index D fire and rescue and has customs for international operations located on the airport.

    Fuel Available: 100LL and Jet-A

    Parking: Hangars and Tie Downs

    Airframe and Powerplant Servicing: Minor

    Bottled Oxygen: High/Low

    Aircraft based at airport: 209

         Single Engine Aircraft: 110

         Multi-engine: 37

         Jet Aircraft: 34

         Helicopters: 6

         Military Aircraft: 22

    Aircraft Operations: Average about 502 a day

        58% Commercial

        28% Transient General Aviation

        9%% Air Taxi

        4% Military

        1% Local General Aviation

    Runways and Helipads

    Runway 17R/35R

    Dimensions: 12,250 x 150 feet, concrete grooved in good condition with high intensity runway edge lights.

     

    17R

    35L

    Elevation:

    541.4 feet

    487.3 feet

    Gradient:

    0.6% Down

    0.3% UP

    Traffic Pattern:

    Right

    Left

    Runway Heading:

    173 Magnetic, 179 True

    353 Magnetic, 359 True

    Markings:

    Precision, Good Condition

    Same

    Visual Slope Indicator:

    4-light PAPI on Left (3 degree, glide path)

    Same

    RVR Equipment:

    Touchdown & Rollout

    Same

    Approach Lights:

    MALS: 1400 Foot Medium Intensity Approach Lighting System

    MALSR: 1400 Foot Medium Intensity Approach lighting System with Runway Alignment Indicator Lights

    Runway End Identifier Lights:

    No

    No

    Touchdown Point:

    Yes, no lights

    Same

    Instrument Approach:

    ILS/DME

    Same

     

    Runway 17L/35R

    Dimensions: 9,000x150, surface is concrete grooved in good condition with high intensity runway edge lights.

     

    17L

    35R

    Elevation:

    491.6 Feet

    473.6 Feet

    Gradient:

     

    0.2% Up

    Traffic Pattern:

    Left

    Right

    Runway Heading:

    173 Magnetic, 179 True

    353 Magnetic, 359 True

    Visual slope Indicator:

    4-Light PAPI on left (3 degrees glide path)

    Same

    RVR Equipment:

    Touchdown, Midfield, Rollout

    Same

    Approach Lights:

    ALSF2: Standard 2400 Foot High Intensity Approach Lighting System with Centerline Sequenced Flashers (Category II or III)

    MALSR: 1400 Foot Medium Intensity Approach Lighting System with Runway Alignment Indicator Lights

    Runway End Identifier Lights:

    No

    No

    Centerline Lights:

    Yes

    Yes

    Touchdown Point:

    Yes, lighted

    Same

    Instrument Approach:

    ILS/DME

    Same

    Obstructions:

    90 Foot Tower, lighted, 3807 Feet from Runway, 236 Feet Right of Centerline, 40:1 Slope to Clear

     

     

    Helipad H1 & H2

    60x60 Feet

    Condition: Concrete in good condition with left traffic pattern for both.

     

    Helipad H3

    50x50 Feet

    Condition: Concrete in good condition

    Runway Edge lighting: PERI

    Operational Restrictions: Cardwell Army Helipad is restricted to military use only

    Traffic Pattern: Left

    Some Additional Remarks:

    Bird activity on or around the airport.

    Declared low visibility conditions require ATC communications prior to push back and power backs are prohibited during these periods.

    Noise Abatement: All departures follow ATC instructions; climb ASAP to 4000 feet or above.

    During the hours of 0000 to 0600, arriving aircraft will be assigned to runway 35L or 35R and departing aircraft will be assigned runway 17L or 17R to avoid noise sensitive areas.

     

     

    Installation

    Installation of Imagine Simulations KAUS – Austin Bergstrom International Airport is very easy but does require an active internet connection to activate the product.  Imaginesim recommends closing as many Windows applications as possible, start P3D, load your default flight or scenery, let the process complete entirely, and when this is finished, shut the simulator down.  According to the developer this will ensure that you have a “fresh start” for the installation of this scenery.  I have installed many scenery products and this is the first time that I have been instructed to do this procedure first, other than closing Windows apps which is usually recommended.  This is very important and I may have skipped right over these instructions and did not do this procedure because I had some post install issues.  Also, if you installed the demo of this product (a great feature that allows you to get a good idea what system performance will be like), uninstall this first.  I appreciate that Imaginesim provides these pre-install procedures to alleviate possible install issues.

     

    Now that the housekeeping is out of the way it is time to install the scenery.  Run the downloaded file, “Imaginesim_KAUS_2014_P3D.exe”, and follow the onscreen prompts.  As with all simulator add-on products, I recommend right clicking on the setup program and select “Run as Administrator”.  The installer will install the scenery into both P3D V2 and V3 if you have both simulators installed but during my conversations with technical support, this could cause some issues.  To activate, enter your purchase credentials which includes an Order Number given to you by your vendor (Flight1 or the FlightSimStore) and your purchase email address.  Activation should be very fast and once approved the installation will continue.  There is a nice progress bar and the entire install process is very fast.  After the files are installed, a scenery configuration window will open and after selecting your desired options, press “Exit” to complete the install process.  A new folder is created in your P3D directory (Imagine Simulations/ KAUS Austin 2014 P3D) which contains the scenery & texture folders along with a nice 14 page PDF manual that I recommend reading for proper simulator settings and other useful information.

    For most people, you should be able to load KAUS in P3D and start enjoying the scenery.  When I loaded KAUS on my system, I did not have any scenery objects just ground textures.  The nice people at Imaginesim provided some great troubleshooting procedures and I was able to get the scenery working on my computer.  For whatever reason, this scenery did not automatically activate on my system.  I had to delete the default folder location entered by the installer and manually activate the proper scenery location.  Once I did this, P3D gave me a scary error message that there were errors with my scenery.cfg file which I ignored and when I tried again to load the scenery, everything looked as it should.  The customer support specialist had never heard of this happening before but I chose to include it with the review just in case others might have this issue.  The demo scenery installed just fine which is strange, maybe the demo did not fully uninstall.

     

    Ground Tour

       Before installing new premium airports I like to load the default airport first and capture a screen grab to compare to the upgraded airport.  The first screen grab is of the Milviz Boeing 737-200 parked at the default Gate 10 – Heavy parking location and as you can see it the pretty typical bland looking default gate textures.  The Imaginesim KAUS scenery does not have this gate listed as “Heavy” so I load the same aircraft at Gate 5 – Heavy.  As you can see from the second screen grab, the upgraded scenery is spectacular!  Besides upgraded textures, this scenery includes realistic ground objects both static and animated.  I am now going to enter P3D Avatar mode and walk/jog around this large airport.  I like how you can see details of the inside of the passenger terminal.  This is a good time to view the night lighting effects and they are very impressive.  It is nice to see the Jetway lighting along with the associated shadow effects and I am impressed that the animated ground vehicles have realistic headlight effects.  From this screen grab I can also see the small but realistic details on the Jetway, the gate at the open area.  Returning to the P3D daytime setting, I continue my ground tour of Austin – Bergstrom International Airport.  As I have come to expect from premium scenery products ground objects are very detailed with real world company names.  I do not know if this is a design decision for better performance but I could not see any AI traffic no matter what time of day that I selected and set airline traffic to 100%.  It would also have been nice if there were some static airliners included with this scenery.  I have My Traffic Professional installed and I know it is working because I can change my view to nearby traffic and I can see traffic in the air.  Later in the review I did see some AI traffic so it probably depends on the exact time of day for this airport.  Performance with this scenery loaded is outstanding, I do not post frame rates but while on the ground with all of the animated vehicles, I did not encounter any performance issues.001

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     Ground textures and ramp signage are very clear and easy to read.  Nearby buildings and static objects are equally impressive looking.  Trees though do not show fall colors even though I have the fall season loaded in P3D.  Although seasonal colors would add to the overall experience, I do not consider this a must have feature because I consider a more realistic looking airport more important than seasonal vegetation textures.  The arrivals area and parking garage look nice but I would have liked to see some static automobiles and people in the area.  I cannot believe that this would have affected performance that much.  I could not walk up the ramps so the departures area will have to wait until I perform my aerial tour.  At least the airport parking lot has static autos and I like how they look.  Airport signage have very realistic looking textures, another feature that I look for with quality scenery products and the night lighting effects are also very impressive.

     

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       Now I am going to jog to the other side of the airport.  Ramp signage looks very nice both during the day and at night.  I do not know if this is a side effect of Avatar mode, but I am not wild about the tall grass textures, especially when viewed up close.  Most people will probably not be exploring the airport on foot so this is probably not an issue overall.  Building and sign textures on this side of the airport are just as impressive as the Terminal side.  Unlike the airline parking area, the general aviation area has plenty of static and AI aircraft.  The general aviation hangars look great but I wish some were open.  I like that building signage are legible which greatly adds the experience.  I am going to load the final two areas of the airport that I have not explored the cargo and military facilities because this is a very large airport and I decided it would take too long to walk/jog to these ramps. 

    The building and static object textures are just as impressive as the other areas but similar to the Terminal area, there were not any static cargo aircraft when I visited.  The Southwest parking area is for military aircraft; even though there are no static aircraft I like that the hangar’s doors are textured differently than the general aviation hangars which add to the realism.   I really like all of the detail that Imaginesim has included with this scenery such as the fence and gate features.  Scenery objects that I did see on my tour were the fire station and any fire or rescue vehicles.  I consult the aircraft diagram and I do not know how I missed it because it is near the tower north of general aviation parking.

    After going back to this area I realize that I did look at the fire station although with this scenery there was only a single airport security vehicle parked next to this building and no emergency vehicles to be found.  Maybe they are parked inside but it would have been nice to see a fire vehicle among the static objects.

     

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    Aerial Tour of Airport Area

       To explore the airport from the air I going to use Ant’s Airplanes Drifter Ultralight to get a good view of the airport and the surrounding area from the air.  I am going to start at the active runway and the runway markings are very impressive.  Ramp lighting effects also look very nice.  Premium airports should also have realistic looking runway textures and Imaginesim’s does not disappoint.  It would have been nice to have seasonal vegetation textures because I can clearly see where the scenery area ends and the Orbx Global scenery starts because the Orbx scenery has seasonal fall tree textures and this scenery does not.

    The corporate and general aviation ramps look just as impressive from the air as it did from the ground.  I did notice some nearby blurry ground textures in a fenced area but maybe this area is supposed to look like this in the simulator or maybe it is a photo area and I am flying too low for better textures.  There are other places that look like photo scenery that are also blurry from this low altitude but to be honest, other than for this review I probably will not notice on my regular flights.  The tall grass textures definitely look better from the air but at some places it looks like it needs to be mowed.  One of the features that I did not see on my ground tour was cars waiting for a gate to open, very realistic!  Animated gates would have been nice but I like there static vehicles are included for that real world atmosphere.  Unless this is a real would feature which I accept, as you can see from my screen grab, cement blocks are partially blocking each lane of the road near the gate. 

    The gate textures look great though.  Some features are better observed from the air such as all of the various antennas and the other three dimensional objects both large and small.

    The static objects at the cargo facility look as impressive from the air as it did from the ground.  Also from the air I can see the impressive details of the parking garage, the terminal roof and the departure area.  I am now going to set up an approach so that I can see the approach features and lighting effects and as I have said before, are impressive looking during the day and at night. 

    The last two screen grabs are after completing a cross country flight into Austin Bergstrom International Airport.  The first displays one of the scenery features if you operate airliners into and out of this airport’s gates, the simulated docking system.  The manual does a good job explaining how to use this system.  I am a general aviation virtual pilot so I personally did not use it but this is one of the features that put Imaginesim KAUS scenery to the top tier of premium scenery products.  It is nice that that this realistic feature is included without the need of premium or free utilities for this function.  The last picture is of a Delta Connection aircraft in the process of loading or unloading with animated ground objects.  I take back everything I wrote in the last section.  Not only are there a couple of static airliners (must be a time of day feature) but the ramp workers and objects are interacting with it which greatly adds to the experience.   Lastly, If you own the Orbx Global series of products, there are several airports included in their free NA Scenery Pack that would make nice cross country flights to and from Austin Bergstrom International Airport.  Located South of Austin in San Antonio is T94 Twin – Oaks Airport.  West near Fredericksburg, Texas is T82 – Gillespie County Airport, Northwest in Burnet is KBMQ – Burnet Municipal Kate Craddock Field.  The closest airport is KEDC – Austin Executive Airport.  I flew a multi-leg flight that started at T94 and ended at KAUS.

    There are probably plenty of other premium and free airports available in this area of the United States to make Imaginesim’s KAUS Austin – Bergstrom International Airport a perfect starting point for your simulator travels especially if you like to fly larger aircraft.

     

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    Conclusion

    Accessibility

    Imaginesim’s KAUS Austin Bergstrom International Airport is only available from Imaginesim direct for $29.99 and the FlightSimStore for about $26.00USD currently so I suppose it could be more accessible but many developers are starting to sell their products themselves so I do not have an issue with this.  Both stores allow both credit card and PayPal as forms of payment and because this product is download only, most people should be able to purchase without issue.  The unpacked download size is only 119MB so downloads should not be an issue for most people.

     

     

    Affordability

       First time buyers have a choice to make with Version 2 of KAUS; it is a separate purchase for FS2004, FSX or P3D (yes, FS2004 is still supported with this scenery product).  At $29.99 each that can get kind of expensive if you own multiple simulators.  Normally, I do not like developers that do not provide multi-installers but most developers also do not provide a demo of the scenery to try before you buy.  Also, I think most people that have multiple simulators will probably use one more than the others and will probably only purchase for that simulator similar to other products with single installers.  Imaginesim also provides free upgrades for previous version purchases and according to the install notes, FSS customers simply log in to their account for the new P3D version.  Considering the incredible detail with this scenery, I consider the purchase price a good value.

     

    Ease of Installation

       Installation is more involved than most scenery products and this product does require an active internet connection for activation.  Despite the issues that I detailed which seems to be very unusual, if you follow the recommended procedure, installing KAUS should proceed without issue.

     

    Features & System Performance

    This is my first Imaginesim scenery product and I am very impressed with the amount of details that are included with this scenery.  Just about everything that I would want in a premium scenery product is included such as realistic looking buildings & static objects, great looking night lighting  and legible ground & building signage.  System performance is outstanding even with all of the animated ground vehicles that I witnessed.   This is a very detailed scenery area so you may have a slight performance issue when approaching the airport but Imaginesim explains this with the FAQ available to download from the website so everyone can know this before purchase.  That is why a demo is available to see if your system can handle this very detailed scenery.

     

     

    Final Thoughts

    KAUS Austin Bergstrom International Airport from Imaginesim is a fantastic scenery package which provides a great hub for simulator pilots of all skill levels to use with aircraft of all sizes.  As mentioned previously, everything that you would want with a scenery product is included which is great.  Even better, if you are an airliner pilot the included parking assist is a nice feature that should be included with all large airport products.  Jetways are not animated but this scenery is compatible with airport ground handling utilities.  Two minor nitpicks that does not affect the overall experience but would have been nice are I would like to see some more static vehicles (fire trucks, military & cargo aircraft) and seasonal tree colors would also have been nice.

     

     

     

    Test System

    Hardware:

    Computer Specs:

    Intel Desktop Computer

    Intel i5 4670K 3.4Ghz Non OC Processor

    8GB DDR3 1833 Memory

    2TB SATA HD (7200 RPM)

    NVIDIA GeForce GTX970 Video Card with 4GB GDDR5 Memory

    Saitek Cessna Pro Flight Yoke, Rudder Pedals & Trim Wheel

    Saitek Pro-Flight Switch Panel and Multi Panel

    Software:

    FSX: Steam Edition, Prepar3D Version 3

    Windows 7 – 64 Bit

    REX 4 Texture Direct with Soft Clouds

    Orbx HD Trees, Global, Vector, Europe & NA Landclass & Multiple Regions

    FS Global 2010 FTX Compatible

    P3D Fair Weather Theme

    Flight Test Time:

    25 hours

     



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