Funner Flight KLAX
When Angelique asked me to do a review on KLAX/LAX, I was excited, having flown through this airport many times- often on my way to or from my native country, New Zealand. Being such a busy airport, it’s always interesting to see the airline action here and there are always so many people!
I find airports equally interesting as reviewing the aircraft that fly into them, as each is so unique and interesting. So, let me introduce you to the Funner Flight (authored by Jeff Mueller) rendition of LAX. I am reviewing only the XP11 version of the scenery, as XP10 is long gone from my system. But first, some items of general interest to give us all perspective as to where and what LAX actually is.
Wikipedia tells us that Los Angeles (known simply as “L.A.” by many people) is the second largest city in the United States, and occupies an area bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the south and west, the Sierra Nevada mountains to the east, and the Santa Monica mountains to the north. Named “El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles” (The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels”) by the Spanish, it’s also called the “L.A Basin”, since it lies in a relatively flat area at near sea level with mountains nearby.
“Los Angeles is in a large basin bounded by the Pacific Ocean on one side and by mountains as high as 10,000 feet (3,000 m) on the other. Los Angeles has a population of 13.1 million”. The area is well known for the movies that are made in Hollywood- chosen because of the climate, years before the computer-enhanced movies made today with computerization. Source link.
The Los Angeles international airport, commonly known as “LAX”, is located the Pacific Ocean coastline. In 2018, LAX handled 87,534,384 passengers, making it the world’s fourth busiest and the United States’ second busiest airport. As the largest and busiest international airport on the U.S. West Coast, LAX is a major international gateway to the United States, and also serves a connection point for passengers traveling internationally.
The airport holds the record for the world’s busiest origin and destination airport, since relative to other airports, many more travelers begin or end their trips in Los Angeles than use it as a connection. It is also the only airport to rank among the top five U.S. airports for both passenger and cargo traffic. As large international airports have been newly built (such as KDEN), or heavily renovated (such as KSFO), LAX was starting to fall behind and became increasingly less attractive to passengers.
To meet this demand, the airport continues to undergo major changes even today, to cater for the ever-changing composition of airlines as well as changing up the passenger experience. Source link.
Installation and Documentation
Installation is very straight forward, and consists of downloading the folder containing the files (a ZIP file) then moving that into the Custom Scenery folder of XP11. There is a sub-folder named “Instructions and Documentation”, which contains an airport diagram as well as a manual and a Quick-Start Install document. You will also need to install the Open Scenery library (if you don’t already have it), and the “static and animated aircraft for Jeff’s airport sceneries- links are provided to file locations at the. Org download forum of at X-Plained.
There are many combinations of options that I have written about in this review- all consist of changing customized files (after backing up). My advice to someone getting this scenery for the first time is to read the manual in its entirety so you are aware of what you have to do to change these options if you wish. The documentation is well written and clear to the user.
All airports globally are assigned either a 3 character IATA code, or a 4 character ICAO code- often the two formats are very different, such as “LHR” or “EGLL” for London Heathrow. In the US, it’s simply a matter of adding a “K” as a prefix to the IATA code. Now for some screenshots- let’s explore this KLAX scenery add-on!!
No airport review would be complete without an Airport Diagram. Since the airport has undergone so much change in the past several years, I am including the version of the diagram that comes with the documentation of this addon. It’s dated in 2016, so may be different to the current airport diagram- however, it should give a reference for the following discussion.
First a look from the eastern end of the airport, looking to the west coast and the Pacific Ocean, and elevated to show a panorama of this beautiful airport. I have started this sequence with a look from this vantage pint of the default KLAX, followed by the KLAX from Funner Flight. It’s obvious right from the start that this scenery has a lot more depth and detail. OK, enough of the comparison to the default, now to start looking further at this nice add-on.
Before continuing, looking at this screenshot (above) is a good point to note the runway usage at KLAX. Simply put, the airport consists of a central island that contains all terminals, the control tower, the multi-deck car park and the various hotels. The south runways, the “25’s, to the left, are longer than those to the north – the 24’s- (right), as can be easily seen here in this screenshot. More can be seen at Wikipedia.
When designing an airport, it’s always best to make landing runways as far away from each other as possible – to reduce the limiting effects of close parallel approaches. The normal landing runways are 25L (the far left (south) runway, and 24R (the far-right runway). So, 25R and 24L are used for staggered take-offs. The normal departure from 25R is a left turn to 221 degrees when crossing the coastline, to avoid traffic from 24L which usually continues straight out at runway heading.
Zooming into the hotel complex, still at the eastern end of the airport, shows a lot of detail- including hotel names. Zooming even further into KLAX, and best described by Wikipedia:
“The distinctive white Googie Theme Building, constructed in 1961 by Robert E. McKee Construction Co., resembles a flying saucer that has landed on its four legs. A restaurant with a sweeping view of the airport is suspended beneath two arches that form the legs…… Visitors are able to take the elevator up to the Observation Deck of the “Theme Building”, which closed after the September 11, 2001 attacks for security reasons and reopened to the public on weekends beginning on July 10, 2010”. See source link.
A look at the control tower and it’s unique shape, in the center area of the airport facilities. From here there is a commanding view of the airport, we’ll come back to this view later to look at the various options included in this package and their effect.
We get a little closer and look to see if we can see busy controllers through the tower windows- but not today. While I have never flown myself into KLAX, I have listened to radio traffic as a passenger and it’s literally a non-stop stream of ATC commands and instructions to pilots. This airport is always busy- not being a hub airport but rather a gateway in what is one of the world’s largest cities, so rather than the push sequences of a hub airport generating busy and not-so-busy times, it’s constant traffic, even through the night.
Another look at the hotels complex from the south side of the airport. I have stayed many times at the “LA Hilton”, even if my room is on the opposite side of the hotel to the airport, heavy jet blast noise can be heard almost constantly through the night- a sound that I love to hear! And a look towards Santa Monica. showing the Santa Monica hills to the north. I then show the LAX sign (the freeway entrance of Century Boulevard to the airport drives right by this, it’s great to see), with the light towers (installed for the 2000 Democratic National Convention) behind the sign.
Now we kick this review up a bit with a night time shot, shown at the same location as above, with the light towers and the lighted “LAX” sign. And a closer look at night, we can see the light towers changing color. The Theme Building is shown at night as we move further into the airport, along with the lights of much road traffic. And a close up to the Theme Building at night. This is truly awesome stuff. Makes me want to always fly into KLAX at night time in the sim!
Now we switch to dusk (under fair conditions) to show the various runway and taxiway, lights, and again that tower cab close by. A more detailed look at the north runways at dusk, also showing some of the airport structure. A look taken from above the approach end of the south runways at dusk, showing the size of this massive airport. I love this view at night time- beautiful stuff!
I now switch to the western end of the reciprocal of the “25’s”, 07 L and R. These are used occasionally through the daytime when the winds unusually come from the east, but much more often at night when the winds usually switch to be from the east and which also minimizes noise to nearby residents. And a similar look at 06 L and R, used similarly to the 07’s. A night-time view of the car park and road traffic with the terminals behind, and the multitude of lighting at this amazing airport.
The current terminal usage by airlines can be seen from this chart, which is current at the date that this review is being written (August 2019). I have noted differences below in the KLAX scenery which result from recent changes (see link).
So, a look at the various terminals. On the north side of the airport is Terminal 1, operated primarily by South-West Airlines. Parked and dynamic aircraft can be seen. Terminal 1 is seen – perhaps more notably- from the airside, showing the KLAX infrastructure behind. We then show Terminal 2, now primarily a Delta Airlines terminal since this addon was produced, and Terminal 3- also now a Delta Airlines terminal. The author has stated that he intends to bring the airport up to date when time permits.
The next four shots show the international terminal, also known as the Tom Bradley International Terminal, or abbreviated to TBIT. This terminal is the western end of “island” that forms most of the airport infrastructure, and is where the roadway turns back to go to the east. So, this terminal encompasses the entire width of the “island”. This first shot shows the eastern side to the north- the recently renovations to this terminal can be seen with the elevated roof structures giving it a much more spacious feeling when inside it.
Next is the western side of TBIT from a northern perspective. The taxiway that runs from here to the western side of TBIT is called “The Alley”, and signage as well as literature in the Airport Supplement is full of disclaimers that portions of The Alley cannot be seen by the tower, so to be careful! Next is the western side of the terminal looking south, and finally the eastern portion.
Moving eastwards on the south side of the airport, we next see terminal 4, occupied by American Airlines. I should add here that if you fly into KLAX internationally on one of the major US airlines (American, Delta or United), that the aircraft will most times not park at TBIT, but at the domestic terminal used by the airline. Since the customs facility is located in the TBIT structure, there are secure walkways to follow that sometimes seem to never end, to get to the customs area.
Terminal 5 is next- here can be seen Delta Airlines, which up until recently occupied this terminal but (as said above) now occupy terminals 2 and 3. American Airlines have now expanded into Terminal 5. Terminal 6 is used for “general use” or “low cost” carriers such as Frontier Airlines. Terminal 7 is still occupied by United Airlines, as is Terminal 8.
Next a shot of the multi-level car park and other airport buildings. I love the palm trees which contrary to many people’s knowledge are not native to here but were planted when the LA area started to grow. Natively this area is too dry to support much at all, so irrigation has done wonders for this area of the US- most of which comes from dams on the lower reaches of the Colorado River. Next, I show the roadway the runs under the eastern edge of the airport- this is South Sepulveda Boulevard. There is a taxiway (in the foreground) that leads to the east remote stands, which are shown next. I next show the east cargo ramp, with hotels behind.
In this quick tour of KLAX, we now show the west remote stands. Recently there have been substantial additions made these remote stands with terminal facilities. Passengers get to the remote stands by bus. And a look at the south cargo complex and FBO facilities.
To conclude this portion of the review, a look at Gate 50A, several views moving into gate 133 (at the Tom Bradley International Terminal), these are very well done and show the modern gate facilities, and is very representative of the real thing. I have also shown the Visual Docking Guidance System, seen from a perspective of too far left, too far right, and just right!
Finally, also looking at the gate labelled “Lufthansa Cargo”, at the South Cargo complex; and a look at the runway and taxiway textures at the approach end of 25L. Plus, a look towards downtown LA, also showing Terminal 1, at dusk. This is beautiful stuff!
This KLAX scenery package comes with lots of options for Ground Traffic (including World Traffic), Ortho Aprons and Objects on Ortho Surrounding Airport, to suit user preferences and system specifications.
Ground Traffic Options
Firstly, as referred to in the Installation and Documentation section of this review, the user will need to download the latest “Aircraft-Static_and_Animated” library. The links to that library (both at the .org download forum and at the X-Plained downloads) are in the installation documentation.
The variables that are addressed in Ground Options are:
- Airport Vehicles- these are specialized airport vehicles that are located on the various terminal taxiways and other terminal areas, such as fuel trucks, etc.
- Auto Traffic- these are the motor vehicles driving into, out of and around the airport on public roadways, and include automobiles, buses, etc.
- Taxiing Aircraft: Probably self-explanatory, these are aircraft taxiing around the airport as programmed, and park at gates (I believe they only park at cargo “gates”, from my limited observation, however they are very well done and good renditions of the real aircraft. The aircraft appear to taxi around the airport, and while not as accurate as a good World Traffic 3 rendition of taxi routes (such as a “KLAX.txt”), it does provide immersion. I have often seen aircraft taxying across the airport on non-standard routes and so there is some realism here.
The files (all of them are various versions of GroundTraffic.txt, with an additional backup file) are located in six folders, all labelled with the various options, and are all within the folder “GROUND TRAFFIC INSTRUCTIONS AND OPTIONS”. There is also a .pdf with instructions on what the various options represent and how to enable them.
The options included in this scenery package are:
- Airport Vehicles Only
- Airport Vehicles with Taxiing Aircraft only
- Auto Traffic only
- Ground Traffic 700+. This is the full traffic for KLAX
- Ground Traffic lite 350+. This is a lite version and has about one-half of the traffic of 4 above. It is also the default option in the scenery package.
- A World Traffic option. This folder contains two sub-folders, as there are two sub-options for World Traffic. Both include Airport vehicles and Auto Traffic, but exclude Taxiing Aircraft and any static aircraft in the package. The difference in the two options is that one is more intense than the other- one being similar to 4 above in traffic intensity, and the other similar to 5 above.
I like the way that these options are provided. They are easily changed (although X-Plane 11 needs to be restarted).
I checked these options out by positioning my view-point where I could see the various traffic streams. While I believe that night or dusk really makes this add-on shine, I decided to do all of this (and the following options) in the afternoon daytime- simply so the screenshots would actually show what I’m writing about. I also wanted consistent views so I could re-create them for comparison, since a re-start is required.
One obvious viewpoint is the Tower view, and I chose to look east and west (and downwards), as this airport is primarily aligned physically east-west. I also used the free view (‘C’ key) to zoom down to traffic level for a closer look.
The first view I show is listed as 5 above, and is “Ground Traffic 350+”, or otherwise known as the “lite” version. I started here as this is how the airport comes configured by default. I tried to get some pics showing all of the variables in this option. One aspect to note is that some Auto Traffic and Aircraft (those parked at gates) are static and do not change in response to selecting an option for Ground Traffic.
My next view, to compare the “350+’ to the “700+”. “Full traffic” is listed above as option 4. My first reaction on this ground traffic option was the increase in the number of Auto Traffic. The amounts of Airport Vehicles and Taxying Aircraft looked the same, however it is hard to measure since it takes some time to spawn some of the traffic movement. It also should be noted, as seen in some of these screenshots, that the auto traffic is not limited to just on the airport, but around the airport perimeter as well, adding even more realism.
Next, I show the Airport Vehicles only, number 1 above. Any motor vehicles you see in the screenshots are stationary scenery objects, as are any aircraft (usually parked at terminal gates or cargo ramps). All Airport Vehicles are dynamic.
My next view option is number 2 above, “Airport Vehicles with Taxiing Aircraft only”. Once again, starting with the Tower view and panning to the east and west, I now see several dynamic aircraft moving around the airport (as seen on the screenshot, they are the ones not at gates), and the presence of dynamic Airport Traffic. I find myself missing the Auto Traffic, which in any option where they are active are by far the most numerous. Any Auto Traffic seen here are static.
The next option, number 3 above, is Auto Traffic only. True to form, the busy motor vehicles are back- I love them! There are no Airport vehicles, and only static Aircraft at the gates.
I then tried the option of World Traffic 3 (WT3). There are actually two sub-options, both exclude the Taxying Aircraft, but include all other Ground Traffic. The difference in these two sub-options is the intensity in the Auto Traffic and Airport Vehicles. One has a similar intensity to the “350+” option, the other to the “700+” option (see both above), but once again- no Taxying Aircraft.
Before I started WT3, I decided to see what Jeff had done with the WT3 options. While I did note the absence of Taxying Aircraft, I also noted that the static aircraft were still present (similar to the static auto traffic, they are always present throughout these options). This had the effect, when starting WT3, of spawning aircraft on the runways for takeoff, or having them disappear on the runways after landing and stopping, since all gates must have appeared to be full with the static aircraft.
While there are several WT3 ground Movement files available at the online Downloads Forum that I could have used, I had WT3 generate its own Ground Routes. This is not a criticism of this add-on or WT3, rather acknowledging that WT3 will act in the way I have described when static aircraft are at the gates, and may just be a limitation of WT3.
The screenshots below show both the presence of static aircraft at the gates, and in some of them I had WT3 running, so there are aircraft in the air as well, on approach to land, or taking off.
These options for airport ground traffic are very comprehensive, however there’s more!
There’s a folder “Ortho Aprons Option”. As Jeff says “This OPTION allows the customer to use the ortho textures for different areas of concrete and asphalt around the airport. Some people may prefer the look of the real thing, especially flying over the airport.“
This option contains a unique version of the folder EarthNavData. Jeff warns in his documentation to back up the version that is included in the main KLAX folder first, then to copy this unique version of the folder to the main KLAX folder. This option has the effect of changing the aprons. I have first added a screenshot (below) showing the aprons as comes default in the KLAX scenery, followed by a similar screenshot of the Ortho Aprons.
And there’s more. Another folder in the scenery package is “No Buildings on Ortho Option”. This has two sub-folders, named “No Objects on Ortho surrounding Airport with X-Plane Taxiways”, and the other “No Objects on Ortho surrounding Airport with Ortho Taxiways”. Both contain the folder Earth Nav Data, within which is the file “apt.dat”. There is also installation documentation provided.
This option allows for removing buildings surrounding the airport while either opting for default XP11 textures on taxiways, or choosing ortho textures.
I chose a view from the Tower to show the Taxiway textures, and another view east of the runways near the Interstate 205 freeway. The shots below first the Ortho taxiways, then two screenshots with firstly the default buildings in this KLAX scenery, and then the lack of them if this option is chosen.
Another folder in the scenery package is named “Greener Grass and Newer Asphalt Option”. In it there are two subfolders, one for the greener grass where a modified copy of rway_pave.dds is found- this is used to over-write the XP11 stock file in Resources/bitmaps/runways/goodgrass. The other subfolder, for the newer asphalt, contains a modified copy of rway_pave.dds and is used to overwrite the XP11 stock file in Resources/bitmaps/runways/asphalt. The user is advised to back up the original file(s) before over-writing, and the fact that the P11 updater will try to restore the original file unless action is taken to ignore it.
Therefore, many options for customizing your version of KLAX! Remember that a re-start of XP11 is required to implement option changes.
I bet this gets your attention- test flying an airport? I’m used to reviewing aircraft where I usually do a flight to demonstrate some of the features of the aircraft. So, no, I am not going to fly the airport, but fly into the airport.
I need to mention here that KLAX has been under substantial development for the past several years, both in enhancing runway/taxiway infrastructure (including a north-south taxiway joining the north and south runway pairs that is capable of carrying the A380), and enhancing and expanding the terminals.
Therefore, it’s important that I measure the KLAX scenery to the included airport diagram as that is representative of the timeframe that the scenery was made, and not compare to the current charts. The included chart was published for the September 15 2016 – October 13 2016, whereas the current chart is in the July 18, 2019-August 15 2019.
In “flight testing” the KLAX airport, I decided to first simulate an impression a pilot might have, both on approach, landing and a long taxi. This would give me the chance to check the taxiway and runway signage against the included airport diagram as well as the terminal infrastructure, and (using one of the options included in the addon) the ground traffic- including aircraft ground movements, airport traffic and road traffic movements.
The fictitious flight is a Beechcraft Baron (XP11 stock aircraft), and we pick it up on short final to KLAX runway. Although our cargo terminal is located on the south side of the airport, we have come from the north so are vectored onto the north runway- we know that means a very long taxi procedure! Having flown into KLAX before, we knew to be prepared for the rapid-fire instructions from SoCal (SOuthern CALifornia) Approach, and that once we are inside the Final Approach Fix (FAF) and on runway heading, to switch to Tower frequency without having to be told to do so- there’s no time for Approach to give this instruction, they are so busy.
Likewise, we know that once switched to Tower frequency, to not say anything other than read back clearances. You can get into a lot of trouble here for failing to observe ATC radio protocols.!! I am also using the view “without panel” in the aircraft while on approach, then the “free view” so I can zoom into signage and other interesting things to see.
Our clearance is “…Cleared to land, runway 24 Right, expedite vacating the runway at Zulu, hold short of 24 Left, remain this frequency”. I chose an awesome real-weather scenario at dusk for the approach to the runway- the large cloud adds to the look! Then switched to late afternoon so I can see the taxi/runway signage.
Tower then clears us to cross 24L “after the 787 has vacated 24” …. and to “contact Ground on the other side”. We cross 24L, and switch to the Ground frequency for the north taxiways. Ground tells us “Left turn on Echo, hold at Sierra”. Luckily, we have an airport diagram with us so we know where Sierra is- it’s “The Alley” running to the south side of the airport and adjacent to TBIT.
I also now enable WT3 so that we can see some aircraft landing and taking off, although not taxying to the gates- see my comments in the Ground Traffic section regarding WT3.
As we approach the signage that has the arrow pointing to taxiway Sierra, we here from Ground again “…. Turn right into Sierra, Right in Tango 1, Tango, hold at Charley and report, monitor South Ground frequency. Caution lack of visibility in The Alley”.
South Ground calls us once we are holding at taxiway Charley: “Cross Charley and Bravo, hold at runway 25R, monitor South Tower…”.
South Tower calls us “Cross 25R and 25L without delay, hold at Alpha, monitor Ground….”.
We check each way on the runway before starting to taxi- we know what a busy airport this is, and we don’t want to have a fight with a larger aircraft! Luckily, we can see Alpha on the other side of the parallel runways and we know that is our last taxiway!
Ground says “…. Turn left on Alpha to follow the Cathay Pacific B744, , Alpha to Alpha 5….”
Nearly there! We can almost start to relax at last!
I have a “late 2017” iMac, and while I love it, I find it is often not performing as good as some of the machines (Mac or PC) that are released today. My XP11 graphics settings are as follows:
I was pleasantly surprised to see fps numbers of 25-30 when using the XP11 Cessna 172 in positions where the scenery in view included many of the buildings, static and dynamic auto and aircraft traffic, and airport ground traffic.
This airport scenery is well done, and reminds me of how much difference third-party airport scenery makes to the immersion of the flight sim experience. Even though the taxying aircraft do not follow traditional ground routes to and from the terminal gates and the runways, they certainly provide immersion.
The addition of buildings surrounding the airport (such as hotels), plus the auto traffic in those areas, is another piece of the immersion. The use of options to render the scenery as desired by personal choice is something I have rarely seen before, at least to this scale.
My clear preference (as I state in the review) is to fly into this airport at dusk or night-time, it really shines! I found Jeff to be responsive to questions and comments from me to his e-mail address found in the documentation. This scenery package will add to your flying experience!
More information can be found at the dedicated X-Plane.Org store page. As of this writing, the product has been updated to version 2.5 and has a retail price of 24.95 USD. An important note is the version number 2.5. Although it looks like at Org that this is already a version from a while ago, the package is, with the help of Bruce, updated and several errors are solved. According to Bruce, the latest and current version at Org is the latest updated airport.
|Add-on:||Payware Funner Flight KLAX|
|Publisher | Developer:||X-Plane.Org | Funner Flight|
|Description:||Realistic rendition of KLAX|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately 880MB (unzipped)|
|Reviewed by:||Bruce Knight|
|Published:||August 30rd 2019|
|Hardware specifications:||- iMac Mid 2017|
|- Intel i7 4.2Ghz|
|- AMD Radeon Pro 580 8192 MB|
|- 32 GB 2400 Mhz 8/30/198/30/194 RAM|
|Software specifications:||- Mojave (10.14.4)|
|- X-Plane 11.32 – 11.33|