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Scenery Review: Grand Arctic Scenery XP12 by HSimulators

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Scenery Review: Grand Arctic Scenery XP12 by HSimulators

By Nick Garlick


I am extremely pleased to be invited back once again so that I can share my views and opinions on yet another new add-on for the X-Plane 12 platform, this time Grand Arctic XP12 By HSimulators.  


The Arctic: a cold barren, polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth and an area more often than not, forgotten in the world of flight simulation. The Artic covers an area which includes the Arctic Ocean, neighbouring seas, and parts of Canada (Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut), Danish Realm (Greenland), northern Finland (Lapland), Iceland, northern Norway (Finnmark and Svalbard), Russia (Murmansk, Siberia, Nenets Okrug, Novaya Zemlya), northernmost Sweden and the United States (Alaska), so as you can see, a considerable land area! In saying that however, as large as it is…it’s still not included with X-Plane.  


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Yes, I know we now have snow in X-Plane, but I must remind you this is only available if you fly below and above the parallel lines of latitude seventy-four north and latitude sixty south, where X-Plane’s default scenery is available. Fly above or below these lines of latitude in a default install of X Plane and you will encounter vast areas of open water, reminiscent of something from an apocalyptic climate crisis of rising tides, something we X-Planers are all too familiar with! 


To resolve this virtual climate crisis, enter Grand Arctic XP12, a product that builds on the original Grand Arctic for X Plane 11, a product I thoroughly enjoyed when released a few years ago. I will not bore you by flying over old ground, especially when the core of Grand Arctic XP12 covers essentially the same terrain, airports and helipads as found in the original product. However, as new readers may be interested in this product, we will see how this enhanced version improves on the already tried and tested formula by taking advantage of all that XP12 now has to offer.  


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HSimulators started work on this updated version several months ago with the initial release being in December 2022. Grand Arctic XP12 is for use in X-Plane 12 only and runs on either Windows, Mac, or Linux. It requires a graphics card with a minimum of 4GB VRAM, but from experience, I would recommend 8GB or higher for the best results. 

Even though XP12 has seen improvements in many areas over XP11, there remain huge chunks of land and ice missing from Austin’s plausible world. As such, Grand Arctic XP12 aims to fill part of the area above the 73/74th north lines of latitude to fill some of that void. Being such a large area, the package covers areas of North Greenland and the northernmost reaches of Canada. The approximate area covered by the scenery package can be seen in my illustrations below with a global representation of the before and after installation of the package. 


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Download & Install 
When you initiate the download, the compressed zip file weighs in at just under 6GB. Having downloaded the product without any issues, I then when about extracting and installing the scenery file. Installation is quite straightforward, unzip the contents by pointing to the drive where your X-Plane 12 is installed. Then, once you have extracted the scenery, you will need to check both your Custom Scenery and Global Scenery folders. If the installation has gone to plan, you should see the following in each of the respective folders. Once installed, Grand Arctic will occupy around 6.70GB of your hard drive space.

First Impressions       
HSimulators Grand Arctic features an impressive call-down list. As mentioned earlier, the area of coverage is from the northern extremities of Western Canada to the east of Greenland, from just above the 73rd and 74th lines of latitude. It is stated the scenery encompasses almost one million square miles, and all of this sits on top of a terrain mesh sampled at between 15 and 20m in resolution, which appears to be an improvement over the original product. It’s also interesting to note that the scenery has been designed to work with the weather stations in X Plane 12, which can lead to some rather impressive weather environments.  


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Now let’s look at the airports featured in the geographical area covered by the scenery. I observed no less than sixteen airports/airstrips and eight helipads and many of these were rendered with adequate detail featuring 3D Objects. The complete feature list can be seen on the map below. 


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It is beyond the scope of this review to mention every specific location included in this package, so here is a selection of some of the areas which I feel are worth pointing out and which should give you an indication of the kind of quality you will experience when exploring the scenery. To begin with, we have Thule Air Base (BGTL).


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Situated on the northwest coast of Greenland, Thule Air Base is the northernmost air base of the United States Armed forces which is located 750 miles (1,210 km) north of the Arctic Circle and 947 miles (1,524km) from the North Pole.  


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HSimulations have captured the footprint of the air base reasonably well, as well as the surrounding scenery which features various listening and satellite surveillance stations. Also included is the harbour, which I think adds an additional degree of interest and ambience. 


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Next up is Qaanaaq BGQQ, an unpaved airstrip formerly known as Thule or New Thule. Qaanaaq is the main town in the northern part of the Avannaata district in north-western Greenland.  


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The developers have again produced a nice rendition of the airport, along with its surroundings. I particularly like this location, as the approach “on most occasions” will see you pass over the town of Qaanaaq, with the open sea on one side, and the hills on the other, which when the weather is clear, can be very scenic!   


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Leaving Qaanaaq behind, we next head for Danmarkshvan (Denmark's Harbour), which is a small remote weather station located in Dove Bay, which resides on the south shore of the Germania Land peninsula in the National Park of Northeast Greenland. Danmarkshvan is an unpaved airstrip located by the coast, and due to its location, will present quite a challenge when the weather becomes unfavourable.


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Our next stop is CFS Alert (CYLT) and Mould Bay (CYMD). Canadian Forces Stations Alert (CYLT) is a semi-paved airstrip, with the main function of the airbase being a signals intelligence intercept facility. In other words, they eavesdrop on the world’s communications. Often shortened to just CSF Alert, the base resides in the Qikqtaaluk region of Nunavut and is situated on the northeastern tip of Ellesmere Island.


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Mould Bay Airport is located on Prince Patrick Island in the Canadian Northwest Territories. It was originally built in 1948 as a joint effort between Canada and the United States in which to service the former Environment Canada weather station, which in turn was automated in 1997. This automation eliminated the need for a fully active airport; however, as of 2012, members of the Canadian Armed Forces still occasionally visited the island. The developers have captured the spirit of this remote location with just enough detail to ensure that every flight (both in and out), is an enjoyable one.


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As well as the landing areas mentioned above, the developers have also included many settlements. Whilst these are all relatively simple in terms of their modelling, they are more than adequate at conveying just how vast and remote this part of the world really is. The screenshots below are an example of this and show the settlement of Innaarsuit.


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Given the geographical area covered by this scenery, the file contains little in the way of auto-gen (often the cause of framerate issues), and as such, any impact on framerates is negligible. In fact, the most taxing element is probably the new mesh data, but even here, and despite the added detail on offer, I was still able to achieve remarkably high framerates at X Plane’s highest graphic settings. 


Areas for Improvement 

Whilst there have been some significant improvements over the previous X-Plane 11 version of the scenery, such as the richer, slightly more detailed ground textures and the inclusion of a bespoke terrain mesh, I still feel there is room for improvement, mainly regarding some of the detailing found at the airports. Whilst many of them were more than adequate, I feel some of the airports could do with being lifted a level. However, that said, at the same time I accept as the developer states, this is a new product and Grand Arctic XP12 should be considered “a start”.


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At the time of writing, I believe that the development kit from Laminar Research (which is used to produce “new mesh”) has yet to be made available to third-party and public developers, though I stand to be corrected on this point. However, given the lack of an official development kit, the developer had to draw on their own development solutions to create a bespoke mesh. Hopefully, when this development kit becomes available, further improvements can be made.

HSimulators have stated that as soon as the required development kit from Laminar has been made available, work will commence on developing better edge adjustments between the aquatic and land masses and improved renditions of peaks and troughs. These improvements will then be implemented into the scenery file which will be updated accordingly.


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Overall, I am very pleased with this product, as Grand Arctic XP12 covers part of an extensive area that to this day, continues to be omitted from X Plane. Featuring enhanced ground textures, along with new mesh relief, HSimulators' Grand Arctic XP12 offers an increased level of immersion over its predecessor (a highly recommended product in its own right). At the time of writing, Grand Arctic XP12 can be purchased for $29.00, which I feel represents excellent value, especially when you factor in the exceptionally large area which is covered. 


With HSimulators ongoing commitment to the package, the potential scope of the scenery in general, and the ongoing improvements to X-Plane 12, I for one look forward to seeing what the future brings for Grand Arctic XP12.






Grand Arctic Scenery XP12 is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:


Grand Arctic Scenery XP12

Priced at US$29.00


Main Features 

  • Scenery from west of Canada to the east of Greenland above 73 degrees
  • Nearly one million square miles of mesh terrain between 15 and 20 m resolution
  • Built to work with weather stations in X-Plane 12
  • 17 airports in 3D (all airports in the geographic area)
  • 7 helipads in 3D
  • Places in 3D (small cities and villages)

Mesh terrain from 10 to 15 resolution meters

  • North Canada and Greenland

Airports and heliports in 3D

  • Thule Air Base
  • Fort Conger
  • Nuussuaq HLPN
  • CFS Alert
  • Innaarsuit HLPN
  • Resolut Bay
  • Station Nord
  • Isachsen
  • Siorapaluk HLPN
  • Qaanaaq
  • King Christian
  • Sagvisivik HLPN
  • Grise Fiord
  • Kullorsuaq HLPN
  • Tanquary Fiord
  • Eureka
  • Malloc Dome
  • Tasiusaq HLPN
  • Arctic Bay
  • Moriusaq HLPN
  • Mould Bay
  • Danmarkshavn
  • NEEM Camp Skiway
  • Thule BMEWS HLPN


X-Plane 12
Windows mac or Linux
4 GB VRAM Video Card. 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
Download Size: 6.2 GB
Current version: XP12rev1 (December 30th, 2022)


Review by Nick Garlick

17th Feb 2023

Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews


Review System Specifications: 

Windows 10, Intel 4790K liquid-cooled, overclock to 5GHz, 32GB DDR3 1600MHz RAM, Nvidia GTX 1070ti, Titanium HD Audio Card.


(Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved




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  • Dominic Smith changed the title to Scenery Review: Grand Arctic Scenery XP12 by HSimulators
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