Utility Review | Stairport SAM3 Airport Vehicles
A long time ago Stairport Sceneries was known of their X-Plane sceneries, but while time progresses, Marten, the lead developer behind Stairport, started with SAM Suite. SAM Suite was and still is a collection of add-on features for X-Plane 11. It started in the beginning with all kind of free add-ons packed together as SAM Suite, but slowly payware add-ons where added like World Jetways, Airport Vehicles and Follow Me for airports.
Was it then a brand new idea to add these features to X-Plane? No, the idea was not really new. You had already for years the Marginal AutoGate feature, but it is no longer updated. You had from JARDesign the FollowMe Car payware add-on and yes, many airport developers created there own static and animated ground equipment. So, the idea of adding these kind of features under own program is not strange. And it must be said, it’s also refreshing, renewed and remodeled.
For sure some simmers will say that it’s a lot of money to buy – as of March 2022 – all these three Stairport add-on features for SAM3 Suite, but on the other hand, you’ve got then one program that takes care for compatibility, being always updated, and easy to use. That’s not always the case with individual programs. That said, I decide after my first Stairport SAM World Jetways review to start with the next add-on, reviewing and finding out all the ins and outs of Stairport SAM3 Airport Vehicles.
According to a dedicated Stairport SAM3 AirportVehicles text page within the SAM3 app “Make your X-Plane world even more realistic with this custom vehicle replacement package – SAM AirportVehicles. 30 new HD vehicles created by ShortFinalDesign a.k.a. MisterX will populate your airports statically as well as replace the default animated vehicles.
The vehicle set vary on the 3 included regions: North America, Europe and Asia. A regional drawing system ensures to select vehicles and even different paints depending on your position in real time – no need to restart your sim! Finally, you can extend it even further by creating own paintings and applying them to your favorite airport or implement own custom vehicles to your liking.”
StairPort SAM3 information can be found at the following Aerosoft forum page and you can also download SAM3 from thus URL. In case you’re only seeking for the direct link to the latest – March 2022 – SAM3 then you use this link.
Stairport SAM3 Suite is a free application for Windows, Mac and Linux although it should be noted that I have no Linux on my Mac, so that’s something I haven’t tested. And when I say “a free application” I mean the the free packages for the base plugin with Global Trees, Seasons and the Developer Pack. All other add-ons for this SAM3 Suite which are World Jetways, Follow Me and Airport Vehicles, are payware. You can buy a copy of these add-ons from Steam, Aerosoft and X-Plane.Org.
Installation and Documentation
As I highlighted in the previous section, you can either downland and install SAM3 via the provided link or you install SAM3 via the Aerosoft One app which you can grab via this link.
Once installed, please follow the HOW_TO_INSTALL_AND_ACTIVATE.txt file for further instructions since there are known issues with Linux and macOS. According to this text file “For Linux and Steam there’s a known issue that currently prevents SAM3 on running on this configuration, you may run into a CTD when trying to run in this configuration. For macOS most likely a message like “App is damaged and can’t be opened. You should move it to trash” and similar errors may come up when trying to run Content Manager or starting X-Plane. SAM components are notarized, but the automatic deployment process, such as zipping, uploading, etc might interfere. When this happens, please run the `macos_remove_attributes.sh` script provided in the SAM directory from the command line, or if you have iTerm installed, you can right-click on the script and select ‘Open with iTerm’.”
A note from myself for macOS simmers; in case you haven’t iTerm, you can grab a free copy via this link. iTerm2 is a replacement for Terminal and the successor to iTerm. It works on Macs with macOS 10.14 or newer. iTerm2 brings the terminal into the modern age with features you never knew you always wanted. Additionally, since the SAM folder is located in the X-Plane Resources/plugins folder, I find it convenient to create a shortcut to my Desktop.
The SAM3 package doesn’t really come with a detailed manual except then for the previous mentioned text file, however, all other related SAM3 manuals can be found online. (https://stairportscenerieshelp.freshdesk.com/support/home) You can also access these manuals via the SAM3 app, either from the external app without having X-Plane up and running, or via the X-Plane menu Plugins – SAM.
Layout SAM3 Airport Vehicles
Perhaps you know it already, perhaps you’ve seen or read it somewhere, but in case you haven’t, the SAM folder – X-Plane Resources/plugins – has a subfolder called lib. In this lib folder you find different sub folders including the SAM_AirportVehicles. Besides that if has many files and folders, it also contains the folders liveries, objects and objects_static with three different areas namely AS, EU and NA. AS is related to all kind of airport vehicles in Asia, EU for Europe and NA for North America. Except for a couple of exceptions, the objects and objects_static folders only come with obj and xml files. That said, you can’t do much with them, but the liveries folder is different. Every sub-folder of each region comes with dedicated texture files.
In the introduction I wrote the following “30 new HD vehicles created by ShortFinalDesign a.k.a. MisterX”, right?
When you and I read this, you could get the idea that the latest MisterX Library version 2.0b does have all those airport vehicles too. No, the correct answer to this lies somewhere in-between. The SAM3 add-on package textures and object files are dedicated made for the Stairport Airport Vehicles with textures resolutions of mostly 2K and some with a resolution of 4K. And yes, when you dig into the MisterX Library you will see many airport vehicles, even more to be honest, but as far as I have seen, the texture resolution is 2K or lower, so yes, that’s one difference. But there’s an other big difference between the airport vehicles objects from the freeware MisterX Library and the payware Stairport SAM3 and that is how en what to use, so what’s then the real difference. Let’s check that out.
Really a Difference?
Let me try to explain this. The MisterX Library airport vehicles are only used and seen when the airport developer – mostly applicable to freeware airports – adds the MisterX Library objects in his/her scenery. If the airport developer doesn’t add any of these MisterX objects in the scenery, you won’t see any airport vehicles unless other libraries are used, and other libraries could also be the default X-Plane vehicle objects.
Hold on, that’s interesting. It now becomes interesting because the payware Stairport SAM3 Airport Vehicles add-on are always, I repeat always, replacing the default Laminar Research airport vehicles with better quality textures and different liveries depending on their location which was either Asia, Europe or North America.
That said, under normal conditions you’ll always see at default X-Plane airports the SAM3 Stairport airport vehicles, provided of course that you’ve activated this feature. If so, you can ask yourself, is the difference worth the price. Ok, let me show you some comparisons between default X-Plane vehicles and those from Stairport Airport Vehicles.
The above screenshots are taken at the default Frankfurt am Main (EDDF) airport. On the left-hand side you see some of the implemented Stairport Airport Vehicles ground equipment while the right-hand side shows you the equivalent default Laminar Research texture models. Although I mentioned it before, the Laminar Research on the right-hand side are all over the world the same since there’s only one region.
That said, all the modified object files from the Stairport Airport Vehicles package, read the way the ground equipment looks like including the belonging texture files, are in this case taken from the EU (Europe) region. This means when I fly to for example KLAX (Los Angeles International Airport USA) or to Singapore (Asia), I will see different textures for the catering trucks. Hold on, not only you’ll see different textures that cover these objects (catering trucks), but also different object files and this means the way the catering truck looks like. And yes, different trucks are used in the USA, in Europe and in Asia. Let’s check that out.
Although this is just one screenshot with the different animated catering truck “regions” layout, it’s basically the same for all other “animated” replacement airport vehicles. It should be noted that the Stairport fuel truck is available in different sizes namely small, medium and large. I wrote on purpose “animated” since you also have “static” Stairport Airport Vehicles.
Most of these static replacement objects are divided into the previous mentioned three regions, however, some static objects like the air starter, cargo containers and container dollies, HPU (High Pressure Air Power Unit) and ULD (Upper Deck Loader) come with one set of textures that’s used not only in the North America region, but also in the other two regions whenever applicable.
The following screenshots shows you with on the left the modified and high resolution static Airport Vehicles objects and on the right those from the default X-Plane.
Just to be clear, these two example static objects as well as the previously mentioned ones – air starter and HPU (High Pressure Air Power Unit) – are of the same shape, size and textures irrespective of the region you’re in.
I started this section with the question “Really a Difference?” and yes, i can conclude that it really makes a difference seeing the default airport vehicles and the ones from Stairport. But remember that this add-on only works with default X-Plane 11 airport or add-on airports that are using or equipped with the default X-Plane vehicles. Keep in mind that freeware or payware add-on airports will most likely have their own set of objects or use for example the Mister X Library.
How to Use It
After the installation and activation of Stairport AirportVehicles it’s immediately activated. This can be seen via the green band on the left-hand side in the SAM3 Content Manager. On the following screenshot you can see that the Airport Vehicles app has been activated while the apps World Jetways and Follow Me aren’t. The Global Trees ands Seasons are blue which means that they haven’t been installed yet and that they are free. And finally, everything that is green means it’s installed which is for the Base plugin always since it’s the heart of the Content Manager.
Remember that you can only activate an Stairport app when X-Plane is not running. Although I mentioned it before, you can start the Content Manger, depending on your Operating System, via one of the apps in the X-Plane Resources/plugins/SAM/content_manager folder.
Next, start X-Plane, and select from the X-Plane menu Plugins – SAM – Main Window. Then click in the right-hand upper corner the gear symbol that opens the SAM3 Settings page. On the left-hand side click the AirportVehicles button marked with green square on the second screenshot. Not that there’s much to do on this page except for activating the 3D Vehicle Driver object. Oops, what does this mean?
On some of the animated Stairport vehicles like the tugs, you can have a driver sitting in the front behind the steering wheel. You can hide or show the driver via this option (see the thirs screenshot above). This is the only available option in respect to the AirportVehicles add-on. That said, all other AirportVehicles features are automatically implemented provided you’re on a default airport or an add-on airport that uses default X-Plane airport vehicle objects who in turn are replaced by the Stairport AirportVehicles add-on.
Basically this is it. When the installation is completed and you’ve activated AirportVehicles, you’re done and all static and animated airport vehicles at the default airports are replaced by a new high resolution set of textures and modified object files. And by default, the drivers on all animated objects are visible. Drivers can be found in the following vehicles; bus, loader and tug. And just in case you missed this, remember that tug, loaders and buses staying steady at the ramp thus “being static vehicles” will never show drivers, irrespective of the SAM32 driver selection.
I could show you with lots of screenshots all possible airport vehicle layouts including the different colors that are used for the three regions, but I think that the following Aerosoft movie shows you very well how it looks like.
One last word; can you enable or disable this AirportVehicle add-on with a simple click?
When you startup the SAM Content Manager from the Resources/plugins/SAM/Content Manger folder, you won’t find an option that says deactivate Airport Vehicles. You’ve got a “question mark” icon on the right-hand side of the line that points to the dedicated Stairport webpage with additional info of the add-on. Then you’ve got an “information” icon that brings up a popup window with the Airport Vehicles app information and finally you’ve got the “trashcan” icon that deletes more or less the app from the SAM lib folder.
And consequently, all default X-Plane airport vehicles are used again. Although there’s also another way to deactivate the Stairport AirportVehicles, the way I just described is perhaps the most elegant way since when you decide to activate it again, you click the download icon and once everything is installed, no need to re-enter your personal data since it’s already stored in the SAM Suite app.
This is my second Stairport SAM Suite payware add-on review. A while ago your personal reporter Angelique van Campen reviewed World Jetways and although this was reviewed with an older version of SAM Suite, the basic principle of the payware add-on stays the same. And now – March 2022 – I’ve completed our second SAM Suite review, the AirportVehicles add-on. Most likely we will soon review their third SAM product, the Follow Me.
I’m aware that this add-on only replaces airport vehicles at default X-Plane airports and not at freeware or payware airports although I have to correct myself since freeware airport developers can implement default X-Plane vehicles from the Laminar Research library. And when they decide to do so, then these vehicles are also automatically replaced by the high quality airport vehicles from Stairport. But in most cases with add-on airports, developers will either use for example the MisterX library that comes with lots of different airport vehicles while other developers created their own set of airport vehicles.
That said, you could ask yourself the question if it is worth the price. SAM Suite is free of charge as well as the global trees and seasons options and of course the base plugin is free too, but that makes sense else the app can’t work. At the dedicated Aerosoft webpage it shows me a price of 18.25 Euro including VAT. No additional costs are added since it’s delivered to you via an URL. So, is 18.25 Euro a lot of money and will you use default airport or add-on airports that use the default X-Plane set of airport vehicles?
It’s not cheap, but on the other hand, I know that there are still lots of simmers who fly and use default X-Plane airports. That said, when they have this plugin, better quality vehicles are implemented and vary with the region you’re flying.
I’m aware that I didn’t cover one part of this app and that’s the Developers Pack. With the developers pack airport payware and freeware developers are able to create and implement their own objects with own textures or as can be found at the dedicated Stairport help page ; “You as a scenery author can paint our objects or even integrate your own object to be used in your custom scenery package.”
Since I don’t create my own airports, I’m also not sure if it is difficult to use and follow these instructions on the above URL, but what I know is that this developers page doesn’t come with a tutorial or movie, at least, I couldn’t find anything at the Web. Perhaps it’s for every airport designer easy and no additional documentation is needed.
For this review I use the latest SAM Suite which was version 3.0.14, and of course, the latest AirportVehicles add-on. All of that in combination with X-Plane 11.55r2 (build 115501 643-bit, Metal) and macOS Monterey however, I’m aware that there are also many Windows and Linux simmers, but the principle on how to install SAM3 Suite, how to activate and to use it is the same except for the Windows and Linux installers.
Angelique van Campen
|Add-on:||Payware Stairport SAM3 Airport Vehicles|
|Publisher | Developer:||Aerosoft / X-Plane.Org | | Stairport Sceneries|
|Description:||Realistic airport vehicles|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately 1.67GMB (unzipped SAM3)|
|Reviewed by:||Angelique van Campen|
|Published:||March 8th 2022|
|Hardware specifications:||- iMac Pro
- Intel 3GHz Intel Xeon W / 4.5Ghz
- Radeon Pro Vega 64 16368 MB
- 64 GB 2666 MHz DDR4
- 1 internal shared 1TB SSD (Big Sur 11.x)
- 1 internal shared 1TB SSD (Bootcamp Windows 10)
- 1 external 2TB LaCie Rugged Pro SSD (Big Sur 11.x)
- Saitek Pro Flight System X-52 Pro and X-56 Rhino
- Honeycomb Alpha Flight Controls
- Honeycomb Bravo Throttle Quadrant
- Thrustmaster TCA Captain Pack Airbus
- Thrustmaster TCA Yoke Pack Boeing edition
|Software specifications:||- macOS Monterey (12.2.x)
- X-Plane 11.55r2