Blueprint Simulations has taken on Detroit Wayne County Metro Airport (KDTW) as their latest release.
This Michigan airport is a major hub for Delta Airlines utilizing the vast terminals built for Northwest Airlines before it was merged with DAL. The South Terminal, named the McNamara opened in 2002 and was a major expansion for the airport, with over 60 gates in the A Terminal and an additional 52 gates in the adjacent B/C Terminal that services the regional feeder aircraft for Delta. This allows accommodating all of Delta’s Sky Team partners in one area.
In 2008 a new expanded North Terminal was opened to other airlines at the airport and this scenery treatment depicts the airport as currently configured.
Installation & Documentation:
Download was the usual easy operation and installation is standard although the scenery does need to be activated in the scenery library before it will appear. The installation offers an option to install static vehicles and to utilize actual airline gate assignments.
The usual BluePrint attention to detail is readily apparent. Everything is of top quality rendering. The surface areas with signs and pavement markings are crisp, clear and accurate and airport buildings appear to have been realistically reproduced. This scenery boasts a full complement of 142 gates in the terminal area along with general aviation hangars and buildings on the east side of the airport and cargo facilities to the west.
It has been at least five years since I have been to KDTW and my visits took me only so far as the McNamara terminal. Viewing that terminal in this scenery was very impressive as to the level of detail, they even placed the illuminated crew notification screens at each gate.
While the scenery can only display generic information on these screens in the simulator, in actual use they identify the flight number, destination, ship number and a countdown clock to the scheduled departure time. Inclusion of such a detail speaks highly of the developers and based on that I imagine that the rendering of the North terminal, built since I was last there, is also highly accurate. I do know that what I see in the scenery certainly looks realistic and customized. There is even a detailed chain link fence preventing access to the adjacent terminal under construction.
BluePrint has taken to including runway hold short lights and oversized parking aids at the gates. While these may not be entirely realistic as far as what is actually present at the airport, they are a welcome addition for the functions that they serve. The hold short lights are an exceptionally good feature as KDTW has a complex and confusing layout of taxiways many of which intersect runways, so the lights help to avoid runway incursions.
There is an option to download a set of high resolution terrain textures of the area outside the airport perimeter from the BluePrint website. The default scenery shows this as a heavily populated area which is not the case and the substitution offers photo real texture instead.
But this addition comes with a tradeoff of a clear demarcation rectangle where the new textures blend with the default when viewed from higher altitude. I thought about adding it but elected not to because the aircraft traffic areas of the airport are not that close to the perimeters so the difference might not be noticed while on the ground. Further, during final approach I don’t pay much attention to the surroundings as I am much too busy inside the cockpit guiding the aircraft to appreciate more than the relatively thin band of concrete to which I am aiming. I prefer to retain the slightly more realistic view from up high when I do have an opportunity for sightseeing.
Night operations are always challenging in FS as lighting can be difficult to model but BluePrint has done a pretty good job in that regard given the limitations of the program. The ramp area floodlights are very bright with light blooms at the lamps but the lighting of the ramp area is subdued yet effective.
Taxiway lighting is good and the green centerline lights are very well displayed. There are too many flashing red building roof lights during the day with a mast light source on the edge of the roof adjacent to each gate. These lights are not seen at night when the floodlights are illuminated and the only red building lights seen are those nicely modeled on the control tower.
Curiously, I found that with this scenery in use and My Traffic X operating, the aircraft would park with the nose wheel on the first stopping point, aligned with the gates but a few feet back from the jet bridge. I suspect this is an issue with the MTX being designed for the default scenery.
A note is in order about technical assistance. I had a question and could not find the subject in the FAQs on the BluePrint website or a forum listed there. But there is a “Contact Us” link that opens a blank email form. I sent my request and in just a few hours I had a personalized response that solved the problem and extended an offer for additional assistance if needed. I was impressed at the speed and usefulness of the response.
All in all, another solid effort from BluePrint and an airport package worthy of bearing their name. If you have familiarity with any previous BluePrint airports then you have a rather good idea of what to expect with this one.
Their specialty seems to be in accurately representing the buildings and layout of an airport and in this regard they do not disappoint. Aficionados of Detroit Wayne Metro will surely enjoy this homage to the airport and feel as if they are at the real thing. For a mere $US 17.50 you get a lot of airport.
What I Like About KDTW
What I Don't Like About KDTW
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