LatinVFR - San Juan Int'l Airport
A review by Rick Desjardins
The Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, ICAO: TJSJ is located in Carolina which is about five kilometers southeast of the city of San Juan on the island of Puerto Rico. It is a joint civil-military international airport which can trace its roots back to 1955 when it first opened. Originally it was called Isla Verde International Airport because of its location in area known as Isla Verde. The airport was built at a time when many airlines were switching from propeller to jet aircraft and the nearby Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Airport could not handle them with its short 4,000ft runway. The airport is now the Island's main international gateway and its main connection to the United States. The airport also serves as the Caribbean hub for Cape Air, Air Sunshine, and Seaborne Airlines, as well as a focus city for JetBlue Airways. The airport is also home to the Puerto Rico Air National Guard. In 2012 8.5 million passengers passed through the airport’s facilities. The airport has two runways; 8/26 @ 10,400ft and 10/28 @ 8,016ft.
Installation was very straightforward. After running the installer executable it was a simple matter of adding the product serial number and selecting which flight simulator I was running. The product can be installed in FSX, P3D or P3Dv2. It is here that you will also be given the opportunity to make choices with regards to several scenery options. The installer will add the airport to the FSX scenery library.
There are several configuration options presented at the time of installation; the choices, as you can see in the screenshot, are self-explanatory. If you decide that you want to change any of them you will need to rerun the installer.
The manual is a 12 page PDF document and is accessible after you install the product and provides some useful and interesting information. They begin with a list of scenery features and then move on to the airport with a brief description, an aerodrome chart and also a listing of airlines that frequent TJSJ plus their destinations and also which concourse they use. The last few pages of the manual are devoted to FSX scenery settings, tips on how to best appreciate the airport its surroundings and also a page of FAQs.
The manual did not contain any specific information for the P3Dv1 or v2 installations.
I’d like to begin by including the list of scenery features as the developer lists them.
San Juan TJSJ Package Features
- TJSJ (SJU) airport completely modeled with significant attention to detail
- Texturing in HD mapping for all buildings and ground polygons
- Shading and occlusion (texture baking) effects on all buildings
- Custom reflection maps and customized global environment map (FSX)
- Pond effect by which areas of the ground show as if there was a water pond only when it rains (FSX)
- Surroundings extremely detailed, 2 square miles of customized buildings and objects (not autogen)
- More than 70 square miles of photo scenery with hand placed autogen. Covering both east and West of San Juan
- Surrounding land class and water class
- Custom designed and placed landmarks, buildings, stadiums for the city of San Juan
- High resolution ground textures / Custom runway textures
- Static derelict aircraft, and static Military aircraft
- Fully AI traffic compatible
- Crosswind runways operations
- Excellent night effects
- Optimized for excellent performance
- Inclusion of manual in PDF format
- Modification of TJIG airport making it more realistic and correctly placed with stock objects
- Birds (FSX)
- Native vehicle animations lines on many surrounding bridges and highways (FSX)
- FSX, Prepar3Dv1 and Prepar3Dv2 support
- Much more!
Here is a comparison of the San Juan area as seen in FSX and also how the area appears after the installation of this product.
Photo images were used as base textures throughout the scenery in all areas except for the aprons/runways and taxiways. For these they used high resolution graphic textures.
Beginning with the photo imagery textures. They are great for providing accuracy at the location and for including lots of accurate detail you just need to be aware that there are areas where details are visible and no objects have been added. Not my favourite thing but very common in many scenery addons.
The hard surface textures were pretty good and did show some signs of the abuse brought about by regular aircraft traffic. However, I felt that they looked too clean when compared to real world images.
The airport has taxiway bridges which allow the main access road to the terminal to pass under taxiways A and B. I liked this added feature.
The largest structure at TJSJ is the main passenger terminal and its concourses. It is centrally located between runways 8/26 and 10/28 with aprons 1 thru 4. Moving away from the main terminal complex there are many other smaller structures which are located next to aprons 5A – C, 6, 7, 8, 9 and the ANG (Puerto Rico Air National Guard) apron.
The airport structures lacked the quality that I was hoping to see. From afar they didn’t look too bad however when they were examined up close the imagery often lacked crisp textures and details and most walls or roof tops tended to be flat with little in the way to give them a 3 dimensional look.
The main terminal is one place where I saw a mix of both good qualities as well as some deficiencies. Beginning with the good. The main terminal did include some interesting details or features. The concourses had windows and doorways and I was happy to see that many were recessed so that the walls weren’t simple flat images. Also along the arrivals side the roof has a multi-peak design that they recreated, the jet ways were detailed and some included open canvas covered walkways going down to the tarmac from the jet way. Terminal A also has a unique round sloped roof and that was also modelled. Of all of the airport structures this was their best work.
As I stated there were some problems however and here are some examples; an elevated road that doesn’t quite seem to fit at either end, this same road also includes some odd textures that would seem to have been borrowed from another object. Another example of parts not seeming to fit properly, many of the jet ways appear to attach to the terminal’s walls in places where they don’t belong. One last example, there are parts of the roof that don’t appear finished with visible gaps between textures.
Other structures at the airport include the control tower, various hangars, some cargo buildings plus other miscellaneous structures. These structures were recreated using similar techniques as the terminal so I came away with many of the same observations.
Something positive that did stand out was that many of the hangars were depicted with their large bay doors open allowing us to see their interiors. This exposed some good detailed wall textures. A nice feature if you want to park your aircraft inside one of them.
Objects and Vehicles
The airport was populated with an adequate variety of objects and vehicles. Aprons and aircraft parking stands both at the main terminal and in other areas such as near the cargo hangars included lots of the different vehicles and objects. The areas looked like they were full of activity and ready to handle the arrival and departure of aircraft. I noticed that many of the service vehicles including baggage trailers were also painted in airline colours, which is always nice to see as it adds a bit of ground level realism.
The airport included the typical infrastructure type objects such as fencing, ground lights, markers and nav aids plus some others such as road signage near the terminal and street lighting. All of these different items play an important role in creating that feeling of realism.
The airport has a designated area for the Puerto Rico Air National Guard and to further enhance this area they include an option to add some static C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. As you can see I chose to enable this and the results can be seen in the screenshot that follows. I thought that this was a welcome addition as all too often these military aprons typically remain empty, void of any aircraft.
Something that I felt was lacking were civilian type vehicles such as cars, light trucks and buses. There were several in the parking lot near the terminal and a few on the roof top level of the parking garage but the road in front of the terminal entrance was completely empty. Without animated road traffic adding a few parked cars here and more to the parking garage would have helped in bringing a bit of life to the airport. The way they left it, the airport unfortunately looks deserted.
There were no additional animations included with this airport addon.
The scenery coverage area extends well beyond the airport to include the scenic coastline area to the north plus a large swath of the city of San Juan to the south and west of the airport. The area has been modelled with an accurate coastline, ground textures are comprised of photo images and the area has been populated with both custom and generic objects.
Both on arrival and departure this area that they modelled proved to be a boon to realism. You have the combination of the photo imagery with all of the objects--the results are impressive.
Unfortunately for me the nighttime experience was underwhelming. The scenery was good but I didn’t see anything that stood out as exceptional. There was very little in the way of nighttime lighting effects. As an example aprons and hard surface areas were basically all the same shade of grey with no real variations in light intensity that you’d expect to have from the overhead lighting. Areas not covered by hard surfaces were simply black. Buildings were monochromatic, again with little or no evidence of variations in lighting. There were some buildings were the imagery showed realistic interior and exterior lighting but they were few and far between.
Moving away from the airport to the San Juan city area I have to say that this part of the scenery was actually better than the airport. Interior lighting could be seen on the buildings and the ground images showed some surface night light textures.
Despite some misgivings about the quality I still believe that this is a welcome addition to the growing number of Caribbean airports now available for FSX. I liked that they included the city of San Juan and port areas. This is a nice feature, which for me enhanced the overall appeal of the product.
- 15 hrs
What I Like:
- That they modelled a large area of the landscape surrounding the airport.
- Easy on frame rates.
What I Don’t Like
- Airport structures modelling was simplified.
- No animated service vehicle traffic.
- Night time was poorly done.
- Intel i7 960 OC @ 4.2 Ghz,
- 6 Gb RAM, EVGA GTX560 Ti w/1.2 Gb video,
- Win 7 Ultimate 64,
- FSX w/acceleration,
- Ultimate traffic 2,
- REX Overdrive,