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Scenery Review : KDFW - Dallas Fort-Worth by Tom Curtis

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Scenery Review : KDFW - Dallas Fort-Worth by Tom Curtis

 

Major mega airport hubs are today a way of your in transit flying life. But besides a way of crossing a country or going from a regional centre to a major metropolis they are also very important gateways into the country and in redirecting foreign passengers to connect easily onwards to their final destination. Take Qantas an Australian airline for example. The airline changed their main route into the United States from San Francisco to Dallas Fort-Worth (San Francisco has since been returned with a limited service) and the idea is that it puts their passengers not only further upcountry into the United States and not left on the coastal fringe, but to also allow the seemless transition to their code-share partner American Airlines to distribute them onward to their final destination...  seemless, systematic and simple. And that sums up DFW (Dallas Fort-Worth), a mega import hub and a mega airline base for American Airlines...  Welcome to American Country.

 

Dallas Fort-Worth is in Texas, and let us not forget that when the Texas do big, they do really BIG...  huge, monstrous, gargantuan...  you get the idea. And Dallas Fort-Worth International lives up to that representation of the Texan way of doing things.

 

17,000 acres, seven runways (one helipad), 165 gates and a major hub for American Airlines, American Eagle and UPS Cargo... big.

DFW by American Standards is not an old airport, it is quite modern and was only first initiated in the early 70's. Dallas was at the time well served by KDAL - Dallas Love Field (love that name) and Meacham Field, and that both airports had been around since the 1920's (1927). But Love field was feeling the strain by the late sixties and there was plenty of space around Fort-Worth to build a bigger mega airport, but Fort Worth didn't want a mega airport and the area only used 1% of the areas traffic, but finally the clear heads won out with the coming The Wright Amendment of 1979 increasing the pressure on the activities and restrictions of any more growth of Love Field.

 

Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport opened on January 13, 1974, at a cost of $700 million. The name change to Dallas/Fort Worth International did not occur until later in 1985.

 

At the time of its opening, DFW had four terminals, numbered 2W, 2E, 3E and 4E. During its first year of operations, the airport was served by American Airlines, Braniff International Airways, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Eastern Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Ozark Air Lines, Rio Airways and Texas International Airlines. The Wright Amendment of 1979 banned long distance flights into Love Field (partially repealed in 2006, then fully repealed in 2014), leaving Southwest Airlines as Love Field's at the time only jet airline and operating solely as an intrastate air carrier in the state of Texas.

 

Braniff International Airways was the original major operator at DFW in the airport's early years, operating a hub from Terminal 2W with international flights to South America and Mexico from 1974, London from 1978 and Europe and Asia from 1979, before ceasing all operations in 1982. Delta Air Lines also built up an early hub operation at DFW, which occupied most of Terminal 4E through the 1990s. The Delta hub peaked around 1991, when Delta had a 35% market share at DFW; its share was halved by 2004, with many former mainline routes downgraded to more frequent regional jet service in 2003.Delta finally closed its DFW hub in 2004, and relocated to Love Field it's remaining services. From then on American Airlines, which had already been one of the largest carriers serving the Dallas/Fort Worth area for many years, established its first hub at DFW on June 11, 1981 and from that point on became the airport's main tenant.

 

Expansion was completed with a seventh runway which opened in 1996. The four primary north–south runways (those closest to the terminals) were all lengthened from 11,388 feet (3,471 m) to their present length of 13,400 feet (4,084 m). The first, 17R/35L, was extended in 1996 (at the same time the new runway was constructed) and the other three (17C/35C, 18L/36R and 18R/36L) were extended in 2005. DFW is now the only airport in the world with four serviceable paved runways longer than 4,000 metres (13,123 ft).

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport now has five terminals totaling 165 gates. The airport was designed with expansion in mind and can theoretically accommodate up to thirteen terminals totaling 260 gates. But there are no more plans for any more expansion in the foreseeable future.

 

DFW is the third largest airport in size and the tenth in passenger movements with a record number 64,174,163 passengers in 2015.

Tom Curtis

 

Tom Curtis is a very well known X-Plane scenery developer. His scenery projects are not just standalone airports but mostly significant areas of aviation in the United States. Inside Passage, Final Frontier, Canadian Rockies, Seattle - Boeing Country, Golden Gate (San Francisco), Las Vegas - Glitter Gulch and KDEN - Denver International are all masterful projects available that have had a significant impact on the X-Plane simulator scenery collections.

 

So if Tom Curtis focuses his attention on a new area and in this case Dallas, you know it is going to be another significant scenery to add to yor custom scenery folder.

 

First Impressions

I get into bubbles of flying routes between certain airports with different aircraft to see how the route responds to the various ways you can connect the two airports. KRSW (Florida South-West) is a favorite hub point at the moment and services to KATL (Atlanta) were fun and interesting, so I tried the same ideas to spread out further to KDFW (before I even knew this new DFW scenery was coming).

It is an interesting route because you head straight out over the Gulf Of Mexico and pick up the southern US coast around New Orleans, then you follow the coast before going inland around Vermilion Bay (Louisiana) just south of Lafayette and fly up country over Nacogdoches until reaching Dallas, Texas.

 

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My equipment is Rotate's MD-88, and one aircraft I have flown on this route a few times already. One thing you are not short of at KDFW is the choice of arrival runways, with seven on offer it is a smorgasbord. Arrival is via 36R homing in on "Maverick" (113.10 VOR). STAR is DUMPY4 trans HERRI with an approach via SLOCO...  got all that :)

 

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For such a very large airport KDFW does not stand out as much as you would think it would on approach, but once on finals for 36R DFW starts to become visible with the runways all well and correctly defined. 

 

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On approach you have highways 360 and 161 left and right and you cross over HWY 183 on the southern airport boundary, giving you a lot of visual movement for any southern approach. A significant change with Tom Curtis's sceneries with KDFW is the way he has more intergrated the orthophoto textures into the X-Plane surrounding default scenery better, the infields are still flat, but the main surrounding areas are now really good compared to like his KDEN, which I really didn't like at all. So a big progress there. This change in design direction makes the approach into DFW now excellent.

 

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Visual runway textures are excellent and the huge amount of airport buildings and terminal infrastructure that make up DFW open up on your right, considering the amount of objects built in here the frame-rate is quite good.

 

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The visual aspect of so many terminals means there is a lot going on in your viewpoint, which is very satisfying in the context of arrival, this scenery is packed to gills with static aircraft and ground equipment (many are animated). DFW is a huge scenery and most approaches are interesting, however 13R/31L and 13L/31R - 17L/35R are very remote from the central terminal area, and you will require a significant taxi time to and from these runways with 31R and 13R with exceedingly a very long taxiing times that would require time and fuel to be accounted for, to a point 13L/31R is mostly used by the FedEx cargo hub which is connected directly to that runway.

 

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Because of the sheer number of gates (165) available at DFW it is recommended to locate your gate earlier and use an airport ground map to navigate yourself around the correct taxiway perimeters, if not you could find yourself taxiing around ramps for ages in locating a suitable berth.

 

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My assigned gate is B18 and you have a marshall to guide you in. If the aircraft is correctly set up then most active gates have the animated "marginal" jetway and docking guidance system ready to receive you. There are a lot of ground service vehicles (a lot animated) and colour coded red west and blue east. These vehicles are well done but a bit toy townish in design, no doubt to get around the copyright laws of payware scenery. They are created in very bright primary colours as well and that does make them stand out more than they should do. It is a "like them" or "not sure" about that idea overall, mostly I am not that crazy about the idea but a more subtle colouring would have made them work into the scenery better.

 

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As an experience of arrival at DFW, it is excellent. Great overall buildings and textures, great infrastructure including the three east - central - west control towers and other ramp towers, visually great with excellent taxiway and ramp markings to make navigation easy around this huge complex.

 

KDFW - Dallas Fort-Worth

KDFW - Dallas Fort-Worth International

IATA: DFW – ICAO: KDFW – FAA LID: DFW

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13L/31R 9,0002ft, (743m) Concrete
13R/31L 9,3012ft ,(834m) Concrete
17C/35C 13,4014ft ,(085m) Concrete
17L/35R 8,500ft, (2,590m) Concrete
17R/35L 13,4014ft, (085m) Concrete
18L/36R 13,4004ft, (085m) Concrete
18R/36L13,4004ft, (085m) Concrete
H1 158ft  (48m)  Concrete
Elevation AMSL 607 ft / 185 m

 

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Runways (clockwise) 13R/31L - 18R/36L 18L/36R - 17R/35L 17C/35C - 17L/35R - 13L/31R.

 

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All runways are excellent, in wear and textures. Taxiway signage and lineage areas are also to the detail expected of a scenery of this calibre, as are infields. But missing grass can make these areas look a little flat from ground eye level.

 

Terminals

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Terminal A

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Terminal A has 30 gates: A8–A25, A28–A29, A33–A39. with Gates A34–A39 closed for renovations, as of March 2016. An American Airlines Admirals Club is located at Gate A24. The A terminal is a wholly an American Airlines terminal and is semi-circular in design.

 

A major feature of DFW is the SkyLink terminal people-mover that commenced operations in April 2005 in replacing the notoriously slow original Airtrans APM (17mph). The large corner iconic terminal buildings are not actually part of the terminal, but are the Skylink stations that are sited around the extensive terminal loop that makes up the transport system. In this scenery the Skylink is excellently reproduced with constant movement rail-cars moving right around the system in opposite directions, the track breaks now and again but overall the system here is excellent and a really great visual feature with the blue cars moving in and and out of your line of view.

 

All terminal construction and textures are first rate. This is very comprehensive scenery, beautifully done and large in scale. Only note is that some sections of the airbridges don't line up, but I do have 'runways to always follow terrain" tickbox on, so that may be the cause.

 

Terminal B

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Terminal B has 49 gates: B2–B3 (FIS optional), B4–B29, B30–B39 (North Stinger), B40–B49. and Gates B18–B23 are closed for renovations, as of March 2016. North Stinger is a walk-on satellite terminal. Terminal B was originally the main Braniff Airlines complex, but it is now completely American Eagle territory as they now run all the gates. Terminal B is situated directly opposite Terminal A and has an American Airlines Admirals Club located at Gate B3

 

Terminal C

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Terminal C has 31 gates: C2–C4, C6–C8, C10–C12, C14–C17, C19–C22, C24–C33, C35–C37 and C39. And the The Hyatt Regency DFW hotel is part of this terminal complex. Originally Terminal 3E is is another wholly American Airlines terminal with an American Airlines Admirals Club located at Gate C20. This terminal is domestic.

Note the excellent ramp tower situated between Terminal A and Terminal C.

 

Terminal D

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Terminal D is the International terminal for DFW and it is a  2,000,000 sq ft (186,000 m2) facility capable of handling 32,000 passengers daily or 11.7 million passengers annually. The 298-room Grand Hyatt DFW Hotel is directly connected to the terminal.

Terminal D has 30 gates: D6–D8, D10–D12, D14, D15–D16–D16X (A380 gate with three loading bridges), D17–D18, D20–D25, D27–D31, D33–D34, D36–D40. There is an American Airlines Admirals Club located at D24. A British Airways Lounge, a Korean Air Lounge, a Lufthansa Lounge and a QANTAS Business Lounge is located at D21. Both Emirates and Qantas use the A380 at this terminal.

There is some nice texture and glass work on Terminal D that differentiates it more than the other semi-circle terminals, it is square in design as well. The white facades are really well done here as well.

 

Terminal E

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Terminal 4E, was originally occupied primarily by Delta Air Lines until Delta closed its hub here in 2005 (still Delta does 50 flights a day from here). Now it serves U.S.- based carriers at the airport other than American Airlines/American Eagle and Sun Country, as well as Air Canada Express and WestJet USCBP that are precleared flights from Canada.

Terminal E has 35 gates: E2, E4–E18, E20–E21, E22–E30 (Satellite Terminal), E31–E38. Delta and Alaska Airlines are the current occupants of the E satellite terminal, following the renovation project of gates E31–E38.

 

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Express South is a huge carpark opposite Terminal E. It is the site for any terminal expansion and is noted as Terminal F and planning is due soon. The Skylink is already in place and well represented here as the rail-cars move right around the the carpark boundary. Great 3d vehicles fill in the parking lots.

 

International Parkway and central Control Tower

East and West areas of DFW are separated by the airport's central north–south arterial road, Spur 97, also known as "International Parkway." that is the central backbone of the airport.

 

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The flat orthophoto textures do reduce the central spine to a more bland effect, but otherwise the area is well catered for. There is a large carpark for each terminal with a little detailing on each, but this area is more filler than detailed object filled. It does the job well, but nothing more.

The main 232ft central control tower is excellent, and well constructed. Detailing is basic on the ground, but you get the feel of the tower. Top of the tower glass is transparent, but nothing inside.

 

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Tower view over the main central runways 18R/36L 18L/36R and 17R/35L 17C/35C is excellent with no obstructions.

 

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Outer DFW boundaries.

DFW International is a huge area to cover. The main areas are divided into west and east and go out a fair way from the central terminal area.

Eastern Boundary

 

FedEx has a big cargo complex on the north-eastern boundary aligned with RWY 13L/31R known as "East Cargo". There is an adjoining Fire Station (no.3) complex as well.

 

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Cargo wise you could fly into and out of DFW via 13L/31R  and not associate with the main area at all, it is that compact and distant from the central area.

 

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Infield between runways 17C/35C and 17L/35R there is the "East (control) Tower" and a big American Airline maintenance hangar (Hangar 5) and support aprons. Next to the AA maintenance complex is the main central Fire Station (no.1) buildings. Note the animated fire truck that does the rounds of the outer roadways. It is a shame in X-Plane you can't select which tower you want to view from, but that is part of the sim.

The south-eastern boundary has a few notable facilities. A Procurement complex (or warehouses) and a Radar tower.

 

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Central to the area is an American Airline office complex and operations centre and the DFW (airport) Human Resources building. Over the other side of "East Airport Drive" is a large "Flight Safety International" training facility. These outer buildings are all of course notable because they are highly viewable from 17C/35C and 17L/35R and certainly from 34R threshhold in landing or taxiing past over to the main terminal area via taxiways Q to ER (link) and P.

 

Western Boundary

Infield between runways 13R/31L and 18R/36L west are large commercial airport areas.

 

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South-west is "West Cargo" but note as the DHL cargo aprons. American Airlines have another maintenance complex here with two hangars covering the site. The "West (control) Tower" is position behind the AA maintenance hangars.

 

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American Eagle has its offices and maintenance hangars central west with another cargo apron along side known as "West Air Freight". Still another cargo complex area is north-west and this time it is for UPS (United Parcel Service). Also set out west - west by RWY 13R/31L is the airport's comprehensive fuel depot and fuel tanks.

 

And there are large storage warehousing buildings set behind the UPS aprons. The whole western area is very well filled in with vehicles and static aircraft. Cargo containers and various other ramp equipment is well placed and so the detail is as good as the central areas of DFW.

 

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Northern Boundary

 

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On the northern approach to DFW there is a large long term carpark to the west, which is well done with the car-cover screens looking very realistic. On the west side along taxiway K is a great corporate aviation ramp (Apron 1E)  and reception terminal. With airport support warehouses next to the Parkway.

 

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Taxiways Y and Z go over the International Parkway motorway northern entrance, but they are not in 3d but flat to the ground.

 

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Many developers now and notable at KORD and SBGL have mastered the 3d taxiway bridge features to great effect, so you miss the same feature here at DFW, it would have looked good and great to use (which they are). The roads are messy leading up to the taxiway (flat) bridges and not helping in the effect. Notable here also is the curved roof rail-station which is well done.

 

Southern Boundary

 

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On the southern section of taxiway K is the "SouthEast" Cargo area which is a multi-user facility for quick transit parcel movement. (my guess is regional). With a another long-term and car rental carparks set to the south.

 

On the south-west side of the southern approach to DFW are mostly the catering facilities. A small fuel depot is well done with a large mobile-office (demountable) administration area set out behind. Nice feature are the roof placed solar - panels, on the biggest building.

 

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Further south are both the Gate Gourmet and SkyChef catering facilities.

 

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Outer boundary south-west there are two facilities including bombardier Aerospace/CAE buildings and a large Fire Station (no.4) with an extensive fire training area which is right on the RWY 31L threshold.

 

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So you are looking at a very large comprehensive area covered by objects that covers so much detail of this huge mega hub DFW airport. Not content with doing just the central DFW airport and terminals, you do get so much that any visual aspect is uniquely covered.

 

Lighting

 

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There is great approach lighting with RAIL lighting animations on all the northern approach runways 17C/17R -18L/18R and 13R. There are a lot of central (green) taxiway guidance lighting, but not located everywhere including the cross east - west taxi routes, so you have to navigate via the outer blue taxi lighting and your on board aircraft side lighting.

 

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Ramp and area lighting overall is excellent, with a lot of of variations of different lighting for all the different areas. Great spot lighting covers carparks and all inner terminal areas, so the airport views at night are quite breathtaking with HDR on. And considering the huge amount of lighting covered in here it is quite framerate friendly if you are not too heavy with your HDR lighting settings.

 

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Terminal and building night textures are simply brilliant, just sensational. Totally absolutely realistic and with a huge amount of variation of all the various areas that are covered correctly. If you are a scenery developer then look here on how it is done by the master, great down lighting as well on the maintenance hangars.

 

Services

You can connect in the states with about everywhere from DFW certainly on any American Airlines/U.S Airways routes. So your choice is huge... top ten domestic routes are interesting with LaGuardia routes notably more used than JFK and no major Washington D.C. routes noted.

 

Domestic

  • 1. Los Angeles, California -1,199,000 - American, Delta, Spirit, United
  • 2. Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois - 1,060,000 - American, Spirit, United
  • 3. Atlanta, Georgia - 977,000 - American, Delta, Spirit
  • 4. Denver, Colorado - 858,000 - American, Frontier, Spirit, United
  • 5. New York–LaGuardia, New York - 787,000 - American, Delta, Spirit
  • 6. Phoenix, Arizona - 693,000 - American/US Airways, Spirit
  • 7. Las Vegas, Nevada - 672,000 - American, Spirit
  • 8. San Francisco, California - 660,000 - American, United
  • 9. Miami, Florida - 628,000 - American
  • 10. Charlotte, North Carolina - 613,000 - American/US Airways

 

International

International routes are very interesting. You expect Mexico and Canada to be popular, but the British seem to really like Texas as well. Notable routes to the Far East (Toyko/Seoul) are surprising. Also surprising is the absence of the middle-east carriers, but with Emirates upping the Dubai - Dallas route EK221/EK222 to A380 services and other new connections then that absence won't be for too much longer.

 

  • 1. Cancún, Mexico - 682,977 - Aeromexico, American, Spirit, Sun Country
  • 2. London (Heathrow), England - 636,251 - American, British Airways
  • 3. Mexico City, Mexico - 476,167 - Aeromexico, American
  • 4. Tokyo (Narita), Japan - 305,321 - American
  • 5. Frankfurt, Germany - 269,442 - American, Lufthansa
  • 6. Monterrey, Mexico - 246,804 - American
  • 7. Seoul (Incheon), South Korea - 245,514 - American, Korean Air
  • 8. San José del Cabo, Mexico - 240,412 - American, Spirit
  • 9. Toronto (Pearson), Canada - 221,385 - Air Canada, American
  • 10. Vancouver, Canada - 200,460 - American

 

Qantas currently operates the world's longest nonstop service route from DFW to Sydney. In August 2015, Emirates announced plans for a nonstop flight from Dubai to Panama City which will take the title of the world's longest scheduled nonstop passenger flight starting on February 1, 2016.

 

Cargo

With 22 cargo operators and with 578,906 tons of cargo handled annually, DFW is the world's 29th busiest cargo airport. If you have followed all the cargo areas in this review you would understand how big a cargo hub DFW is. So with plenty of choice in operators and destinations will keep any cargo hauler easily grinning from ear to ear.

 

Summary

As this "American Country" scenery covers the world's third largest area in airports. You can be forgiven that absolute detailing is not required or even possible without groaning out your computer. What there is in here at Tom Curtis's KDFW is however very substantial and covers not only the main elements of DFW, but a lot of the very wider open boundary areas of the scenery as well and it all comes with a very usable frame-rate. So overall this is really excellent scenery.

Tom Curtis has intergrated his orthophoto textures far better than most of his sceneries from the past, and it all looks far better for the extra effort and certainly from an approach point of view. The textures are still quite flat from the ground perspective and in some areas blurry, but overall they are fine. It is debatable on the great effort to create specialized ground vehicles for his sceneries, but I don't think the idea works in context. X-Plane scenery development has moved on from 3d coloured objects and you now have great ground services vehicles like with the JARDesign "Ground Handling Deluxe" sets in your ramp areas, so these objects come across as old fashioned and in most cases they quite too garish and distracting from an otherwise excellent scenery. The missing Y and Z 3d taxiway bridges would have been a nice to have.

Building quality and textures are overall really excellent, certainly the night lighting textures are overwhelmingly so good. There are so many variations and different objects to cater for here and most have been done with real skill and you have here a perfect realisation of DFW .

Like DFW this is a big scenery and a really great big quality one at that. So great value and with excellent detailing you get a lot for your purchase and also a great major mega hub to fill in your X-Plane network for great routing and the sheer flexibility of cargo and passenger destinations not just domestically but internationally as well, just however fly mostly American, because Dallas is well...  "American Country".

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

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Yes! KDFW - Dallas Fort-Worth by Tom Curtis (Scenery4xp) is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

 

KDFW- Dallas Fort Worth - American's Country

 

Price is US$24.95

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

 

 

Requirements:

X-Plane 10 (any edition)
Windows, MAC or Linux . 32 or 64bit
8GB RAM-  1Gb VRAM Video card Minimum (2GB+ VRAM Recommended)

 

Installation and documents: Download is 111.60meg and the scenery is deposited in the "Custom Scenery" X-Plane folder at 247.00mb.

Marginal's jetway and docking guidance system plugin is required for the animated jetways and Red flag animation plugin, both are supplied with the scenery. Both are deposited in your X-Plane plugin folder. Read the "read me", but installation is straight forward.

____________________________________________________________________________________
 
Review by Stephen Dutton
20th May 2016
Copyright©2016: X-PlaneReviews
 

Review System Specifications:

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 8 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - GeForce GTX 980/SSE2 - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.45

Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini

Plugins: JARDesign Ground Handling Deluxe plugin - US$14.95

Scenery or Aircraft

- McDonnell Douglas MD-80 by Rotate ((Rotate MD-88 - X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$59.95

 

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