Sydney’s Charles Kingsford Smith International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. Being one of the major inbound airports for traffic into Australia, it experiences mostly heavy traffic from all edges of the world. Not to forget that due to its population, it also gets more domestic traffic from inside Australia itself. This put together, makes it a busy airport in this corner of the world.
CLS has taken this into consideration and attempted to make every virtual pilot’s dreams of a long haul flight finishing at Sydney into an unforgettable wonder by creating an add-on scenery for this Aerodrome.
It seems they have put satisfactory time and effort into this project to make it look extraordinary. From important aspects such as realistic ground data to something as small as the shops on the side of the road have been included in this.
Installation and Documentation
The installation for this product is very simple. It is the same as any other installation. Most payware Flight Simulator add-on’s have some form of registration and this one is uncomplicated. Simply enter your registration code when it asks you for it and you are almost good to go.
I did have a few problems with getting mine up and running. Instead of the Sydney Professional X installer to have a folder called ‘Sydney Professional X’ in the scenery folder; it made a folder named ‘Sydney Complete X’. This meant that whenever I choose Sydney Professional X as the scenery I wanted, it comes up with an error that it couldn’t read that data and the scenery is still the default scenery. However after opening FSX, if you go to the Settings and go to the Scenery Library, you can add a new Scenery and when it searches, simply navigate it to your ‘Sydney Complete X’ package and the program works straight away. There will already be a ‘Sydney Professional X’ in your Scenery Library but that is the one that doesn’t work. This is an error experienced personally by me and therefore may not be a problem for everybody.
The documentation included is a simple 6 page manual. A pilot really doesn’t need anything further to get the program up and running. CLS has a great support service set up with an FAQ section, as well as Technical Support through the forums. It is however, highly disappointing that when one of these support services is used, as a reply isn’t always given by the producers and developers of the product and staff from CLS.
CLS Claims to have many features with this scenery. These features (directly off their website) include:
HD-resolution Licensed Aerial Image
of this is true. The features they have mentioned are all in
which enhances the realism and the feel of the airport.
I haven’t noticed the moving air vents on top of the terminals
but looking at the sophistication of the rest of the features,
this should be true.
Terminal / Taxiways
The texture of the ground in the terminal has been changed from
the default settings. The main change has been the colour. It uses
different colours in different areas. There are a few add-ons of
aprons. The apron south of Taxiway Juliet has been added. This
is there in the charts in real life but not in the Default scenery.
A small downside with taxiways is that they don’t go all the way to the stopping point in the parking spots but stop a fair way away from where you actually need to stop. This error is in all areas except for General Aviation / Regional Area of the Airport (the Parking to the East)
Land class Textures
The landclass textures of the ground at Sydney have been drastically improved in this version. Satellite imaging of the real Sydney Airport has been positively implemented in the Flight Simulator X ground landclass. In the default, the grass is almost all the same tone throughout Sydney airport’s ground but using this scenery, it is highly fascinating. This is good but the theory applies. “With great scenery comes great lag”. This affects the performance of the simulation as discussed later. (If you look through some pictures, you will find that in Txwy A just south of RWY 07-25 is an airplane’s wing proving this is satellite imagery).
Picture Comparison between Default and Sydney Professional X
The autogen in the scenery has most of the default autogen plus some more. There are lots of added special extras such as the new multi-storey car park, McDonalds, 2 petrol stations and a Krispy Kreme store, an extra bridge for cars and numerous passenger jetways. Most of the other autogen is the houses off the airfield (which is not part of the scenery) and the Terminals.
There are much more added extras that might not fall into the autogen category, such as extra vehicles (in different shapes and liveries, e.g. Qantas Trucks), Lots of witches hats, blast fences in many areas, portable working fences in the corner of aprons, holding point lights at various holding points and many other goodies. This all adds to the realism of the scenery.
The nighttime default FSX scenery has the domestic terminal all lit up and the International terminal all dark. The default scenery doesn’t have any lighting for the International terminal. This is fixed by the CLS add-on scenery by the lights in the jetways. All the jetways included in the scenery have their own lights which light up the whole International terminal. This makes it much better than the default scenery.
More interesting effects at night include the runway approach lighting. They are beautifully set out on Rwy 16. They seem to have a realistic amount of elevation from the ground and have a nice shine on those lights. This doesn’t forget the PAPI included on all the runways, unlike the default.
The holding point lights are also noticeably better at nighttime. It isn’t included in all taxiway holding points (as it isn’t supposed to). Only a few holding points in Sydney have it and some, if not all, of those holding points do have them on this Scenery.
The Domestic terminal doesn’t have much of a difference in regards to the lighting and appearance during the night. The only differences is what the scenery offers even during the day. The street lights (or what are supposed to look like street lights) and the car lights all work on this scenery, making an approach at night a whole lot better. (As a side note, the cars in the scenery overspeed doing 60mph which is around 110km/h)
Finally, the extra added buildings (McDonalds, Petrol Station, etc) also have lighting which enhances the looks during approach.
The rain in the Sydney Professional X Scenery doesn’t affect the looks in much of a different format than the default. The default has water reflections of the taxiways and runways and the CLS Scenery performs the same effect. The only thing that may look different is the intensity of the reflection. Due to the change in texture of the taxiways on the Pro X scenery, it makes it look like there is a deeper reflection. This is just a mere ‘way that it looks’ and isn’t what it actually is. There is no other change (that could be clearly observed) with rain effects in this scenery.
Performance. The Difference between ‘zzooooomm’ and ‘z z z z o oo o o o o mm m m’
Performance. Computer performance. Flight Simulator performance. Every Flight Simulation enthusiast wants to grab as much frame rate as possible for smooth running of an aircraft. It all finally falls into the hands of extra realism. In real life, no-one gets lag. You don’t see people walking down the street moving in stutters.
This performance is one of the things that make this scenery from the best to the worst. The one and only true reason why I, personally, got bored with this scenery was the simple reason of lag. Sydney Airport on FSX gives you lag by default due to its structure and the amount of detail it has (not as much as many American airports such as Miami, Denver, Boston and Los Angeles) but it still sucks a computer’s performance to a high degree.
On top of the ‘already performance sucking’ Sydney Airport, the Sydney Professional X Scenery sucks it even more. It is a REAL frame rate gobbler. About 5 frames less due to scenery is highly understandable, but on my computer I got as much as 15 and even sometimes 20 frames less than without the scenery (This was mainly tested on the FSX Powered Hang Glider. Other airplanes still showed to lose about 10 – 15 FPS).
There was so much lag that when I was flying a passenger flight inbound to Sydney, I saw the way the airplane was flying (bump bump bump) and knew for sure the scenery had to be activate even without actually seeing the scenery. Then I ended up turning off the scenery, because personally, I will not use this scenery much more in the future. This may not be a problem for users that have better computers than the one listed but it is almost hard to judge your flare on final just before landing due to the lag.
There may be future fixes available from CLS to make this problem less of a hassle but until then, I found it ‘boring’ to fly with this scenery. I apologise to anyone if this seems like a harsh way of mentioning this, but I have to report what I saw.
On a positive note, with full settings I only loose 1 FPS between default and Pro X scenery. I get 1.4 on the Pro X and 2.4 on the Default.
I see that some people really like to max out their scenery. If you have a computer capable of doing maxed out scenery with no lag, or you just want to know what the scenery looks maxed, then these few screenshots are just for you.
Summary / Closing Remarks
This scenery is an excellent scenery for a person with a computer having high specifications. It gives the desired realism, has extra add-ons with so much detail as to have shops (McDonalds, Krispy Kreme) included. They even claim to have trees in the same position as in real life. It is a great product only for people that can afford the loss of frame rates. If you get about 40 frames with default aircraft in Sydney, this scenery will be smooth. (note this may vary).
CLS seem to have put in a lot of work to enhance all aspects of this scenery and it can be seen. Examples include, as mentioned before, the cones on the aprons, blast fences, advertising signs (advertising a Flight Simulator add-on company) and even Citibank banners on most or all of the jetways, and not to forget the Virgin Blue symbol in the Virgin Blue terminals. It offers realism but at a cost to frame rates.
What I Like About Sydney Professional X
What I Don't Like About Sydney Professional X
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