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Commercial Scenery Review

KDFW- Dallas Fort Worth – American’s Country

Add-on: Realistic presentation of Dallas Fort Worth (KDFW)
Publisher | Developer: X-Plane.Org | Tom Curtis
Description: Accurate Reproduction of KDFW- Dallas Fort Worth
Software Source / Size: Download / approximately 263MB (unzipped)
Reviewed by: Jude Bradley
Published: July 3rd 2016
Hardware specifications: - Intel Core i7-47900K @ 4.4 GHz
- 32GB RAM @ 2400MHz
- Gigabyte NVidia GTX 970 4GB
- Saitek Pro-Flight Yoke and Rudder pedals
Software specifications: - Windows 10 Professional 64-bit
- X-Plane 10.45
- Skymaxx Pro Version 3.2

Introduction

Ask anyone who’s an aviation geek about KDFW (Dallas Forth Worth), and they will probably tell you that the opening ceremony included the first ever flight from Paris to the United States with Concorde back in 1973, or perhaps mention the Lockheed Tristar microburst accident back in 1985. Or the fact that it’s a major hub for UPS or that it’s the third busiest airport in the world. Like many U.S airports which tend to have more land area than European ones, It has a total of 7 runways according to the charts. Nearly 65 million people passed through this airport in 2015.It’s also had the distinction of being voted the best cargo airport in North America 6 years ago.

Over 200 hundred destinations can be reached from Dallas Forth-Worth and about 900 flights per day on average, with over 50 of those outside the US. The Airport is a major hub for American and UPS, and a Focus City for Spirit Airlines and Sun Country.

KDFW currently consists of 5 passenger terminals and a future terminal 6 is in the planning stages. The publisher of this product is Tom Curtis who’s also known for Inside Passage, a Canadian software package which covers an area from Vancouver to Alaska (which is no mean feat in itself!)

Tom has made some interesting features to make this airport attractive, from the use of the Ground traffic and AutoGate plugins from Marginal and the Real Flag plugin and plenty of static aircraft – both freight and passenger are covered here.
Some semi-reflective transparent illusions that make you feel as if you are looking through reflective glass – this really adds to the immersion. – As I stated before, there are 7 runways in total consisting of the following attributes.

Runway number Length (Feet) Length (Meters) Surface
13L/31R 9000 2743 Concrete
13R/31L 9,301 2,834 Concrete
17C/35C 13,401 4,085 Concrete
17L/35R 8,500 2,590 Concrete
17R/35L 13,401 4,085 Concrete
18L/36R 13,400 4,085 Concrete
18R/36L 13,400 4,085 Concrete

Terminal A’s main user is American Airlines, along with its regional variant American Eagle and the terminal is undergoing renovations at this present time. Terminal A consists of 30 gates in total.

Terminal B (previously known as Terminal 2W was a former host to the Braniff Airways (anyone remember “Big Orange” ?, known for their very colourful aircraft back in the 70’s and 80’s.
Since Braniff folded back in 1982. Luckily for you, it’s possible to re-live these glamorous moments with the FlyJSim 727 in use with the BI liveries.
The colour has faded slightly with the demise of BI, and now only American Eagle has gates there now.

Terminal C again, is dominated by the plentiful American Airlines and it’s a good starting point for you if you have the MD80 aircraft installed. Nestled between Terminal C and D is the Regency Airport Hotel. I hope it’s got sound-proofing, as it’s bound to be noisy, positioned as it is between two runways! Terminal C has a total of 31 gates in operation at this present time.

Terminal D is the international terminal and has 30 gates in total. Servicing the following Airlines among others:
– Aeroméxico
– American Airlines
– American Eagle
– Avianca
– British Airways
– Emirates
– Etihad Airways
– Japan Airlines
– Korean Air
– Lufthansa
– Qantas
– Qatar Airways
– Spirit Airlines
– Sun Country Airlines

The Grand Hyatt Hotel is directly connected to this terminal and it’s possible for non-flying guests staying at this hotel to access other parts of the airport for shopping and restaurant use. This is of course, subject to special screening via security. There are spaces for over 8,000 cars in the 8-level garage. I hope I remember where I parked my car!

Terminal E, which is the final current terminal is the former Delta hub no longer used by them.
With the exception of American and Sun Country Airlines, it’s the terminal used by US and Canadian carriers and has a total of 35 gates. Like KORD, there is a below-ground access to a sub-terminal which currently services US Airways and Sprit Airlines.. According to the Airport Diagram (dated 2013), there would appear to have two Cargo Terminals – West Air Freight (for UPS) and East Air Freight which covers Fed Ex. In 2013, KDFW handled over 60% of all cargo freight in Texas. Of this, 50% originated from Asia, and 30% from Europe.

According to the X-Plane.org, the following features are listed in the KDFW- Dallas Fort Worth – American’s Country product.

Features
– Gates and terminals accurately modeled
– Static Aircraft at gates
– Animated Aircraft
– Photoreal Ground textures
– Custom ATC
– Realistic night lighting
– Many custom starting locations

Very large airport
– 5 terminals
– 7 runways
– 165 gates
– 3 control towers

Animated Airport
– Ground Traffic (plugin by Marginal)
– All gates utilize ‘Autogate’ by Marginal
– Real Flags plugin

The system requirements to run this airport smoothly are:
– Any version of X-Plane 10
– 8GB RAM- 1Gb VRAM Video card Minimum (2GB+ VRAM Recommended)
– Runs on Linux, Windows, and Mac OSX

Installation and Documentation

Installation of sceneries in X-Plane is straightforward and usually follows the process of unzipping and placing the extracted scenery folder and placing it into the “Custom Scenery” location inside the X-Plane folder. On some occasions, you may have to adjust the scenery.ini text file to change the order of some reference files, but in this case, there is only one folder, so a simple restart of X-Plane, should allow your newly added scenery to be visible in all it’s glory.

Once purchased, you will be presented with a .zip file called “KDFW_AMERICANS_COUNTRY_OPEN ME!!!!.zip”. When extracted this will give you three files named
– _OPEN_ME_FiRST
– KDFW – Dallas Fort Worth International
– PLUGINS_OPEN_ME

Starting with _OPEN_ME_FiRST, read the readme instructions which need to be followed exactly.
There is a small error in the readme which states “Copy the folder titled “KDFW – American’s Country” to your custom scenery folder.” In fact, the folder is actually called “KDFW – Dallas Fort Worth International”, but this is a small matter which can be easily fixed.

Tom also recommends from the readme to download the autogate plugin from http://marginal.org.uk/x-planescenery/AutoGate.zip

And the “Real Flag” plugin included in the PLUGINS_OPEN_ME folder. In this case, the complete subfolder “CustomSBDatarefs004” needs to be copied directly into the
X-Plane 10 \ Resources \ plugins folder.

Prior to the up-and-coming X-Plane 10-50, the “runways follow terrain contours” needs to be unchecked, otherwise some buildings will end up floating and others will appear to sink into the ground. If this is not already the case, uncheck it and restart x-plane to have the changes take effect.

It’s also recommended that HDR is enabled for night-time flights. As per the manual: “Make sure that you DO NOT have both FXAA AND FSAA turned on at the same time. FXAA does nearly the same job smoothing out the “jaggies” that FSAA does, but gives you much better performance.”

First Impressions

OK, this is a big, I mean really big airport, they say that everything is bigger in Texas, and they are not kidding, even when it comes to airports. You can only get a true impression of size when you load up the sim. The basic format of this airport is 5 “U” shaped terminals surrounded by 3 and 4 runways on each side respectively. Only in the Americas, where you have so much space to play with can you design an airport in such a manner. In Europe, you have no such luxuries.

All the terminals have the same appearance with the exception of terminal D which is is more of a squared off “D” shape. Terminal D again is capable of handling the A380, so if you’ve already purchased Peter’s A380, then feel welcome to do some long-haul trips to Sydney.

To get from one terminal to another, there exists the “Skylink” infrastructure which was built in 2005 to replace the inefficient Airtrans APM system which had severe limitations. The Skyink system is prominent and a very distinguished feature throughout the whole DFW airport and is a total of 8km in length and the average journey time is about 5 minutes. The only drawback with the Skylink is that in severe weather, the service is suspended meaning quite a long walk in bad weather.

A Closer Look

Starting at terminal A, B, C and E, which are virtually identical except for “E” which has a small “control tower” – which I can only guess was probably the original one before the airport expanded- are very interesting, not because of the actual structure, but because if you look closely, Tom has inserted reflections of the airport into the windows,which give the impression of transparent glass – very clever.

From further away, the windows look a bit lifeless,- a bit reminiscent of the Blueprint scenery for FSX, but unlike Blueprint, there are plenty of other distractions such as the animated Gate Gourmet catering trucks and the Skylink rail service.

Terminal D – the International terminal is a squared-off large grey affair and the large Hyatt hotel fitting snugly in behind the terminal. The hotel itself doesn’t have any reflective texture effects, but it’s good enough considering. Moving on, an air bridge allows passengers to move between terminal D and C, and an older structure between A and B and dotted over the complete airport there are plenty of static long and short-haul aircraft to keep you company.

I like the idea that there is both the old and new-style American Airlines Logo as it reflects the real-life state as it is today. The “DFW” logo is present on all the gates and plenty of 3D cars present in the outdoor carparks which give the impression of a living airport. The large semicircular carparks behind each terminal for practical reasons have only 2D cars present. Adjacent to Terminal B is a canopied carpark with a selection of 3D and 2D cars. I don’t think this is too much of a problem as it is an Airport representation, not a car-sim.

Moving to the vicinity of “Fire Station #1” We have some maintenance hangars belonging to American Airlines,and some tank farms and 3D cars and a radar station with animated radar scope – clearly Tom likes to give value for money and has an eye for detail.

“Fire Station #2” is similar in layout to the first one,but has a fluttering Stars and Stripes to keep you company. You can almost smell the warm breeze! The nearly “Flight Safety International” building is represented by it’s own space too, so even training flights can be covered from this airport if you wish! Beyond this, are some admin buildings and a cargo terminal which also has some reflective glass effects, and even a disabled parking spot can be seen here.Nearby, the Control tower is nicely done (compared to pictures I’ve seen anyway), and again, a tank farm and an “American Eagle” maintenance hangar are present to complete the picture.

In the Cargo West, area, we have a DHL 767 – or is it an A300?
In all it’s glory with plenty of cargo containers to keep you happy if you are a freight jockey. Below this, at Fire Station #4, a treat awaits you in the form of a Purolator 727 and a generic Fire training aircraft. An American Airlines MD 80 is also in the vicinity. Not sure if these are retired or for fire training. Time will tell I guess. Beyond this, more admin and training buildings with the trademark reflective effects , belonging to Bombardier Aerospace and CAE “Canadian Aviation Electronics” – nice logo and fountain there Tom!

Coming round to the South of the airport, between the main runways, we have a main catering area, with a good serving of Sky Chef and Gate Gourmet vehicles – being as they’re rivals, I hope they don’t start a fight! I almost missed Fire Station #5 but I guess this is the correct building with the American Flag fluttering in the breeze. Perhaps the appliance is out firefighting, or else it’s getting serviced.

In case you’re getting tired of seeing American Airline logos everywhere, a welcome break comes in the form of the Delta/United Cargo terminal in the south of Terminal E. Again, plenty of 3D cars and truck trailers to keep your eyes busy. This brings us back to Terminal E where you have a mixture of Delta Frontier and Spirit Airlines to grab your attention.

Completing the circle, we end up at Fire Station #3 and the East Freight Terminal run by Federal Express. A Pity we don’t yet have a DC-10 or MD-11 for X-Plane , as it would be nice to be able to fly from here with their workhorse, but never mind, you can always use the 727 for this role if you want to step back in time to 3 years ago.

To round off this trip around the airport, I ended up in the Corporate Section where there is an aircraft C-HOWD. If this doesn’t show that Tom has a sense of humor, I don’t know what does.

How about at night?

At night-time, this airport really starts to shine (if you pardon the pun) The impression at night is that this is a busy airport. All the main terminals are illuminated, and the glass effect really comes to the fore.

You can forgive the lack of “glass effect” that I’m so fond of in Prepar3D that you get in Flytampa CYYZ. The catering and baggage trucks have rotating beacons and working headlights where applicable, but I noticed that the Skylink headlights are not showing. No matter, it does not take away from the overall experience.

The interior of the terminals clearly show the destination boards timetables and bars where passengers can grab a last-minute drink before departure time. The Hyatt Hotel is suitably lit with more subtle lighting, and the cargo terminals and emergency services are clearly lit as you would expect.

There is even an “active” fire truck with flashing lights and beacons to let you know that an emergency is in progress!

Performance

On my system, I am getting 30 fps with the IXEG parked at the gates. Considering this is quite a large airport and in tandem with the Skymaxx Pro, this is for me an excellent result. Of course, your mileage can vary greatly depending on your aircraft, your cloud settings, your individual rendering settings and of course lastly but not least – your hardware.

Summary

I have to say that I am very pleased with this scenery add on and there are lots of nice touches which make this special. Although at first it looked a bit bland when I first loaded it up,this was not the fault of the developer as the design of KDFW is more functional than aesthetic. Tom has paid major attention to detail with this product, and all types of aviation are catered for here. Whether you are a GA, Freight-Dog or Passenger Hauler, there is something in this airport for you.

I hope that Tom continues to produce for X-Plane as the bar is raised higher and higher as new products come to the fore. After spending some time at this major airport, it’s fast becoming a firm favorite of mine. At night time, Tom’s version of KDFW beats the FSDT version hands-down.It’s a major hub in the US and you are guaranteed plenty of real-life flights with this scenery. I would definitely recommend this addition to your stable. The price of this add-on is currently 24.95 USD.

More information can be found at the dedicated X-pLane.Org web page.

With Greetings,
Jude Bradley

1 Comment

  1. Edward Melant

    Love this airport !

    Reply

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