Jump to content

Scenery Review - YBCS Cairns International Airport Australia by Taimodels

Recommended Posts



Scenery Review - YBCS Cairns International Airport Australia by Taimodels


Australia is strange place to visit, by sea or air, as you can travel thousands of kilometers past the northern coastline until you reach any major population centre. More oddly is the continent's relationship with Asia, again to the north. In some ways Asia is on Australia's doorstep, but to the Australians they could be half the world away. It is a remote land.


You have to in reality fly to Brisbane on Australia's east middle coast, or to Perth on the country's lower west coast if you want to mix with the main population centres, Sydney and Melbourne are set even far lower again, with Melbourne on the southern coast, the rest is just a wide open barren landscape. Those were your only main port choices until only less than a decade ago.


Things are changing. Two northern ports however are in particular very important to this change, one is Darwin's International Airport, and it is still not what you would call a big airport as in also being part of a military base. The second is Cairns International, in Far North Queensland (FNQ), and it is strategically Australia's closest airport to Asia. 


Cairns Airport goes back to 1928, but it was not until the second world war the Australian Government bought the airport for use by the Royal Australian Air Force. In 1943, the main runway was hard surfaced and lengthened to handle military aircraft. It was also used by the United States Army Air Forces as a transport base, with the 33d Troop Carrier Squadron (374th Troop Carrier Group) operating from the base during 1942.


During the mid-1960s, the airport was upgraded and the runway further lengthened to 2,020 m (6,630 ft) and also strengthened so jets could land.

During the 1970s, Australia's two domestic airlines Trans Australia Airlines and Ansett then provided regular scheduled services out of CNS to most Australian capital cities and also Papua New Guinea, while in 1975 Air Niugini became the first international airline to commence flights out of Cairns, to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. In 1982, redevelopment of the airport commenced. This involved further lengthening of the runway to 2,600 m (8,500 ft) (making it the longest runway in Queensland) and construction of a new terminal building.


At the end of the 70's decade the second stage of redevelopment was completed. This included a new separate International Terminal, associated aprons and taxiways, costing an estimated $80 million. The main runway was again extended, to 3,196 m (10,486 ft). In 1997, the third stage of redevelopment was completed, during which a three-storey Airport Administration Centre was also constructed providing 4,000 m2 (43,000 sq ft) of office space.


In January 2010, Auckland International Airport Limited announced that it had purchased 24.6 per cent of North Queensland Airports (NQA). Then a $55 million Domestic Terminal upgrade was completed in August 2020. Check-in facilities was expanded into a common-user facility for all airlines, and the building again enlarged. Five new jet bridges replaced the existing three old bridges.


In early 2023, it was announced that the International Terminal (Terminal 1) would undergo its first major upgrade in April 2023 to a value of AUD$40-50 million. The first of which would feature the installation of four new glass air-bridges and the re-cladding of the exterior of the building.


Everything in passenger numbers were building nicely over the last decade, mostly Asian tourists, coming in to view the famous Great Barrier Reef which is situated very close to Cairns, then the pandemic rolled in and the numbers flat-lined, and yet have to recover. But operations are already starting to open up with international Jetstar services to Osaka–Kansai, Tokyo–Narita in Japan.


But if one airport in Australia is primed for huge expansion it is CNS Cairns, as noted it is the most northern of Australian Airports, but it's neighbour Papua New Guinea is a big market, not to mention surrounding regional services, FI-FO (Flyin - Flyout) services to the mining industry is also a huge traffic bonanza, and the famous Australian Flying Doctor also has a facility here...  Its a busy place, for somewhere so remote.


For X-Plane users Australia has not been at the front of quality scenery, in fact for a simple demographic population, the releases have been dismal, there is even a poor representation in freeware, never mind quality payware, but the last few years it has got marginally better. Orbx delivered an excellent Brisbane BNE and even a city package that is well worth the investment, Perth is served by Axonos as is the Gold Coast YBCG. But there is currently no MEL - Melbourne, the biggest port in Australia, and that aspect that shows how lacking we are over here, Canberra, Hobart, Adelaide are also non-existent, the last Alice Springs YBAS actually made me cry it was so badly made.


So thank god for Taimodels. First they delivered an excellent YSSY - Sydney International last year, and now here we have again another Australian scenery from Taimodels, this one is YBCS - Cairns International.


Obviously I wanted to do the usual BNE-CNS route (QF 5908). Departure from Brisbane was under a heavy low cloud, its been like this for a week now, with the odd patches of rain. The service today is by the Zibo Boeing 737-800, and it is a 2h 5m + flight.


Cairns Intl - BNE-CNS 1.jpgCairns Intl - BNE-CNS 2.jpgCairns Intl - BNE-CNS 3.jpg


You always know when you are approaching Cairns, it is brighter up here, hotter too.


Cairns Intl - BNE-CNS 4.jpgCairns Intl - BNE-CNS 5.jpg


Most approaches into Cairns will mean an easy parallel track, mostly you arrive via RWY 15, as RWY 33 is a more tighter approach and departure, actually through the Goldsborough Valley, or a left tight 015º turn after departure.


Cairns Intl - BNE-CNS 6.jpgCairns Intl - BNE-CNS 7.jpg


Cairns Airport


YBCS Chart.jpgYBCS RWY 15 ILS.jpg

15/33 3,156m (10,354ft) Asphalt

Elevation AMSL 10 ft/3 m


Your approach is usually via SUNNY, to D16.0 and then track 150º until you collect the ILS (109.9 ICS)


Cairns Intl - BNE-CNS 8.jpgCairns Intl - BNE-CNS 9.jpg


I always loved a Cairns Approach, as you have be really on your alerts and as to get the landing sequence right, for there is a wall of high terrain to your west, so you can't afford to mess up the approach.


Cairns Intl - BNE-CNS 10.jpgCairns Intl - BNE-CNS 11.jpgCairns Intl - BNE-CNS 14.jpg


Now you will get your first clear view of YBCS, most of the airport (terminals) are to the eastern side.


Cairns Intl - BNE-CNS 12.jpgCairns Intl - BNE-CNS 15.jpg


As you pass over the Barron River, there is some very well designed and placed Approach Lighting, this why you buy Payware, because you get detail.


Cairns Intl - BNE-CNS 16.jpgCairns Intl - BNE-CNS 13.jpg




Cairns Intl - BNE-CNS 17.jpgCairns Intl - BNE-CNS 18.jpgCairns Intl - BNE-CNS 19.jpg


Both ends of 15/33 have turnarounds...  ground linage is very impressive, if a little confusing from the cockpit.


Cairns Intl - BNE-CNS 20.jpgCairns Intl - BNE-CNS 21.jpg


No guidance boards, but a marshaller... and there is a little, but still ample clutter, but no animated ramp traffic? so it all feels slightly empty.


Cairns Intl - BNE-CNS 23.jpgCairns Intl - BNE-CNS 22.jpgCairns Intl - BNE-CNS 24.jpg


Looks like Cairns, certainly feels like Cairns...   so it must be the Cairns I know so well.



Cairns Intl - Head 1.jpgCairns Intl - Head 2.jpgCairns Intl - Head 3.jpgCairns Intl - Head 4.jpg


The single long 15/33 magnetic runway 3,156m (10,354ft) now dominates, as the shorter sealed light aircraft runway 12/30 has been decommissioned. The Terminal layout is a square L shape with the earlier Domestic Terminal sited North/South, and the newer International Terminal sited East/West.


Cairns Intl - Head 5.jpgCairns Intl - Head 8.jpgCairns Intl - Head 9.jpgCairns Intl - Head 6.jpgCairns Intl - Head 7.jpg


The airport has two passenger terminals on the eastern side of the airport on reclaimed mangrove swamp. They are approximately 6 km (3.7 mi) north of the Cairns Central Shopping Centre and situated on Airport Avenue off Sheridan Street (Captain Cook Highway). The terminals are in two separate buildings 200 m (660 ft) from one another. The Domestic terminal is number 2 and it has five jet bridges and 17 gates, while the International Terminal is number 1 and it currently has six jet bridges and ten gates in total.



In all my time in X-Plane, the CNS Domestic terminal has been a long rectangle box, with five stick airbridges sticking out, that is freeware for you. But here we get the fully replicated domestic terminal from Taimodels...  yes its very good, as Taimodels are very, very good at modeling terminals.


Cairns Intl - Dom 1.jpgCairns Intl - Dom 2.jpgCairns Intl - Dom 3.jpgCairns Intl - Dom 4.jpgCairns Intl - Dom 5.jpg


Impressive are the five scissor walkways to each airbridge, they are a very nice detail of the terminal's hodge-podge design. Landside is extremely well done, with great glass and signage. But the area is devoid of any life, no passengers or vehicles to make it look like a busy airport, so what is wrong with a bit of life clutter?


All of YBCS uses the SAM3 animated airbridges for aircraft connection, plugin is needed of course, but it's a nice interactivity.


Cairns Intl - Dom 6.jpgCairns Intl - Dom 7.jpg


Arrivals, Departure and the main Terminal internal lounge are all internally present, nicely done, but again devoid of any life, a shame as it's well done.


Cairns Intl - Dom 8.jpgCairns Intl - Dom 9.jpgCairns Intl - Dom 10.jpgCairns Intl - Dom 11.jpg


International Terminal

I'm not sure of the presented International Terminal is the older, or newer? but will say it is the current facility in being very colourful. The design is very basic, really a big shed style terminal, but again Taimodels have done a perfect job in recreating the look and feel of the facility.


Cairns Intl - Inter 1.jpgCairns Intl - Inter 2.jpgCairns Intl - Inter 7.jpgCairns Intl - Inter 5.jpgCairns Intl - Inter 6.jpgCairns Intl - Inter 3.jpgCairns Intl - Inter 4.jpg


The building detail is first rate, there is also the added bonus of animated traffic through the international arrivals area, and even a bus.


Internally the International Terminal is well done, bright and very FNQ in style and feel, but again not much activity or passengers.


Cairns Intl - Inter 8.jpgCairns Intl - Inter 9.jpgCairns Intl - Inter 10.jpg


Notable is the glass, as it is nicely transparent, the trees outside will move if the wind is strong enough, and cars passing by helps as well. On the Airside, the departure lounges are done, but its all a bit sparse, so in areas here it feels not completed either with empty shops. So you wish for more as more intimate detail here, as it would lift the scenery to the higher grade it deserves.


Cairns Intl - Inter 11.jpgCairns Intl - Inter 12.jpg



The freight zone south of the Domestic Terminal is small, in fact it only has one parking bay (23). But it is a generously sized one and could easily cater for a large B748 or B744 freighter. There is a little bit of cargo clutter that is nice, but again it is sparse around the buildings.


Cairns Intl - Cargo 1.jpgCairns Intl - Cargo 2.jpgCairns Intl - Cargo 3.jpg


Central Control Tower and Airport Administration Centre stand out, both are very nicely done. Important as they are so very visible in the scenery. The Australian design and feel of the buildings is very evident in the scenery, so Taimodels have done a great job in this aspect.


Cairns Intl - Tower 1.jpgCairns Intl - Tower 2.jpgCairns Intl - Tower 3.jpgCairns Intl - Tower 4.jpg


There is a basic layout set out in the tower control room, but the heavy blue glass tint makes it (very) hard to see the two approaches.


Cairns Intl - Tower 5.jpgCairns Intl - Tower 6.jpg


Landside is really good. There is a photo underlay, but it's not at all intrusive. Carparks are well laid out with loads of 3d vehicles, and auxiliary buildings are also numerous and photo correct. More signage would have been nice, but again that Aussie feel comes across well.


Cairns Intl - Landside 1.jpgCairns Intl - Landside 2.jpgCairns Intl - Landside 3.jpgCairns Intl - Landside 4.jpg


In clutter, some service vehicles are Qantas branded, but again everything in services is not overwhelming.


Cairns Intl - Landside 6.jpgCairns Intl - Landside 5.jpg


Southwest is the General Aviation and Services area. This area includes the famous Australian Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS), and they have a significant base here covering the Cape York Peninsula, which stretches north to the Torres Strait, and west to the Gulf Country.


Cairns Intl - GA_Services 1.jpgCairns Intl - GA_Services 2.jpgCairns Intl - GA_Services 3.jpg


Again some signage or aircraft denoting the Service would have been nice. Hinterland, GSL and JetAviation are all represented...  there are a few static aircraft, but these ramps are usually very crowded and busy, were as here the opposite.


Cairns Intl - GA_Services 4.jpgCairns Intl - GA_Services 5.jpg


Nautilus Aviation and GBR Helicopters are also represented, in fact there is a wide choice of landing pads over most of the scenery.


Cairns Intl - GA_Services 6.jpgCairns Intl - GA_Services 7.jpg


Northwest is the (photographic) Northern Waste Treatment plant, but there are some 3d buildings surround it, making the area realistic. Several points are the missing vehicle Captain Cook Hwy bridges over the Barron River, visible from any northern arrival or departure, it's an ugly join as well. Another missing piece is the retired Bush Pilots Airways DC-3 memorial that is now gone, it was originally a visible statement on the entrance to the domestic airport... it was moved to the western side, then later broken up, the significant white Hercules is however still present but not shown here.


Cairns Intl - GA_Services 8.jpgCairns Intl - GA_Services 9.jpg


Secondly there is only a small section of parameter fencing on the west side, and all the airports boundaries are very well defined, so it is noticeable sadly.


Ground textures

As this scenery is X-Plane 12 certified, you do get an odd situation considering the foliage. X-Plane 12 has seasons, that turns the foliage into colours or trees with no leaves in the winter... here in FNQ the system works badly against you. First of all in Northern Australia there are no typical four block seasons, just a Dry or Wet season, and it's a tropical clime up here as well, so the trees don't really change that much thoughout the year. 


But X-Plane does what X-Plane does, and it swaps the seasons around as well, actually the wrong way, as this is the Southern Hemisphere. So what you get are brown autumn trees in the Spring/Summer? here Taimodels have used the XP12 3d foliage trees...


Cairns Intl - GA_Autumn 1.jpgCairns Intl - GA_Autumn 2.jpgCairns Intl - GA_Autumn 3.jpg


....   and it simply doesn't work, as the colours don't match in with the surrounding textures or the area


Cairns Intl - GA_Autumn 4.jpgCairns Intl - GA_Autumn 5.jpg


There is a trick to get it right. Turn off the "Time of Day" and set (Customize) your month to June or July, and the colours will come green and right again, odd as those months are set deep into the Australia's winter?


Another small nark is the grass. Here you get 3d grass, but the VOD is very small, and so the big bushes here tend to appear and disappear in a heavy line as you move, or when you takeoff/land. Basically you are better off by removing the 3d foliage as the ground is lighter below as well...  overall the grass it just doesn't work and it looks artificially horrible.


Cairns Intl - GA_Autumn 6.jpgCairns Intl - GA_Autumn 7.jpg


The main textures are okay, certainly not totally realistic, but still in the "not bad" category as well, grain is good, as are the marks, and there is depth to the textures...oil/fuel spills and grunge on the ground are realistic, with a good sense of weathering and usage at the airport. PBR reflective (wet) active textures and burnt-in ambient occlusion is also available here, and are excellent for those sudden explosive summer rainstorms, but there are no winter textures this close to the equator. Only bloat on the copybook are the iron rod straight lines set on the edge of the runways and taxiways.


Cairns Intl - Textures 1.jpgCairns Intl - Textures 2.jpgCairns Intl - Textures 3.jpgCairns Intl - Textures 4.jpg



Overall the lighting is pretty dire....  not a strong area with Taimodels, but Cairns is their worst lighting to date. Approach lighting adheres to the X-Plane 12 standards, but everything else goes downhill from there.


Cairns Intl - Lighting 1.jpgCairns Intl - Lighting 2.jpg


Ramps are shown in a soft yellow glow, but most of the working areas and gates are in darkness.


Cairns Intl - Lighting 3.jpgCairns Intl - Lighting 4.jpgCairns Intl - Lighting 5.jpgCairns Intl - Lighting 6.jpg


Only bright spots (pun intended) are the Domestic and International arrival areas, the rest depends on the odd spot lighting and road lighting, signage lighting is also non-existent.


Cairns Intl - Lighting 7.jpgCairns Intl - Lighting 8.jpg


Internal Domestic and International terminals relies on intermittent spot lighting? again it all looks very average. On the GA services side it is lit up like a Christmas Tree with tons of of harsh spot lighting...


Cairns Intl - Lighting 13.jpgCairns Intl - Lighting 14.jpg

Cairns Intl - Lighting 11.jpgCairns Intl - Lighting 12.jpg


....  but the real concern here is all the missing taxiway side and centreline lighting, as there isn't any at all, not impressed!


Cairns Intl - Lighting 9.jpgCairns Intl - Lighting 10.jpg



Considering the long distances to get to Australia, there is not a lot of quality X-Plane scenery available when you do finally get here. Only Sydney (Taimodels) and Brisbane (Orbx) have extensive payware scenery, Melbourne is sadly lacking even a decent freeware, so don't mention a quality payware. That is the very sad state of affairs down under.


But here is their second Australian scenery from Taimodels, and it's set in the Far North Of Queensland, Cairns International. A welcome choice from the earlier cheap YBCS rectangle boxes and five stick airbridges.


The CNS scenery shows the absolute strength and weaknesses of Taimodels as a developer, gladly the strong is way better than the few weak here.


Starting with the excellent terminal modeling, both externally and internally, it is all very well done and has that Cairns FNQ feel and look. Airbridges are all SAM3 powered and animated, but with marshallers and not guidance boards. Good photo underlays give a solid base that covers all the areas of the airport, including an excellent landside, and the west side General Aviation and Services areas, including the Royal Flying Doctor Service building. Control tower, airport administration building and auxiliary buildings are all very well done.


The average is not a lot that could not be fixed up in an update. Far more detail and signage with clutter and landside detail, including passengers and their baggage, both inside and external Terminals would be very nice, some airside animation in service vehicles would also add in some activity...  this is all fine tuning stuff, but the real detail required here is the lighting. It needs to be far better than this, but no taxiway lighting is not just a oversight, but is even detrimental to the developers reputation at this level.


First thoughts are that any payware scenery, rather than no quality scenery is what is probably delivered here by Taimodels. But that is not the case, as overall this Cairns International scenery for X-Plane 12 is excellent, and far, far better than just filling in a location to fly to. It delivers an excellent representation of Cairns International, in look and feel, and the cost at around US$20 it is value packed as well.


Taimodels as scenery developers are extremely good now, but need to do or finish the finer, finer detail to reach that coveted 5 star status, its close here, so very close. But overall Taimodels YBCS is quality scenery for the X-Plane 12 Simulator.



X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg


The YBCS - Cairns International Airport Australia by Taimodels is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store


YBCS - Cairns International Airport Australia

Priced at US$20.00



X-Plane 12 or  X-Plane 11  (both versions included)
Windows, Mac or Linux
8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
Download Size: 810 GB
Released Nov 3rd 2023


Installation of YBCS - Cairns International Airport Australia is done via download of 775 Mb...


There two files

  • TMS_Cairns_International_YBCS (1.42Gb)
  • TMS_YBCS_Mesh (3.05Mb)


With a total installation size of 1.48Gb. The "YBCS_Mesh" must be in the lower order in the SCENERY_PACK_INI, and set below the main "TMS_Cairns_International_YBCS" scenery file.


SAM Plugin - Scenery Animation Manager - Suite 3.0 or higher is required for this scenery


There is one basic installation pdf (3 pages)




Review System Specifications

Windows  - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD

Software:   - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.07r1 (This is a Release Candidate review).

Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00

Scenery or Aircraft

-Zibo Boeing 737X -



Scenery Review by Stephen Dutton

14th November 2023

Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews


(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


Logo Header X-PlaneReviews 200px.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...