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Scenery Review : KDEN - Denver International Airport by Tom Curtis

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Scenery Review : KDEN - Denver International Airport by Tom Curtis

 

Route : KSEA (Seattle) to KDEN (Denver)

 

Denver International Airport (IATA: DEN, ICAO: KDEN), often referred to as DIA, is an airport situated in Denver, Colorado in the United States. Denver is known as the "Mile-high City" It is also known as" Wall Street of the West" (Queen of the West as well). Denver International Airport (DIA) is situated 25 miles (40 km) driving distance North West from downtown Denver, and at 140 square kilometres (54 sq mi) it is the largest airport in the United States by total area. Runway 16R/34L is the longest public use runway in the United States. The airport is surprisingly not very old as it was opened in February 28, 1995, which was 16 months behind schedule and at a cost of $4.8 billion. DIA replaced Stapleton International Airport which was Denver's primary airport from 1929 to 1995.

 

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Denver has traditionally been home to one of the busier airports in the USA because of its central western location. Many airlines including United Airlines, Western Airlines, the old Frontier Airlines and People Express were all hubbed in Denver and there was also a significant Southwest Airlines operation at the old Stapleton International Airport (Southwest is now at DIA). At times Denver was a hub for at least three or four airlines. At the old Stapleton airport the gate space was severely limited and the runways at the were unable to deal efficiently with Denver's weather and wind patterns that caused nationwide travel disruptions. These problems were the main justification for the new airport. The project began with Perez Architects and was completed by Fentress Bradburn Architects of Denver, Pouw & Associates of Arvada, CO, and Bertram A. Bruton & Associates of Denver. The signature DIA profile is suggestive of the nearby snow-capped Rocky Mountains.

 

The airport opening was originally scheduled for October 31, 1993. But on opening the airport's computerized baggage system which was supposed to reduce delays and shorten waiting times at luggage carousels was an unmitigated failure. with back then there was a single system for all three concourses. These issues with the baggage system delayed the opening to February 28, 1995 with now separate systems for each concourse and with varying degrees of automation. The system's $186 million original construction costs then grew by $1 million per day during these months of modifications and repairs. Incoming flights on the airport's B Concourse made very limited use of the system, and only United which is DIA's dominant airline, and then only used it for outgoing flights. In August 2005 it became public knowledge that United would abandon the system, a decision that would save the airline $1 million per month in maintenance costs. Now today Denver International Airport is the 15th-busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic with 53,156,278 passengers and the fifth-busiest airport in the world by aircraft movements with over 635,000 movements in 2010.

 

Airport Layout

There are 6 major runways at DIA. 7/25, 8/26, 16L/34R, 16R/34L, 17L/35R and 17R/35L (all certified for CAT III ILS operations). With the giant size of the airport layout you will find that taxi times are quite lengthy and extra fuel should be accounted for.

 

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Elevation : 5,431 ft / 1,655 m

7/25  12,000ft  3,658m  Concrete

8/26  12,000ft  3,658m  Concrete

16L/34R  12,000ft  3,658m  Concrete

16R/34L  16,000ft  4,877m  Concrete

17L/35R  12,000ft  3,658m  Concrete

17R/35L  12,000ft  3,658m  Concrete

 

The airport configuration is interesting in that there is only one main terminal called the "Jeppesen Terminal", named after aviation safety pioneer Elrey Jeppesen. From there, there are three large island concourses connected together by an underground rail system. The first concourse (A) is also connected to the Jeppesen Terminal via a high pedestrian bridge.

 

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Overview of KDEN

 

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If you regularly use X-Plane then Tom Curtis's quality scenery will be familiar. Here his choice of Denver is a wise one and has been very well executed in the sort of detail and layout we expect today from quality scenery. Tom does use large amounts of photographic (Orthophoto) images to underlay the scenery. These photographic plates are very visible here as the airport has a very wide open spread-out layout, and they don't very well integrate into the default scenery around them, Inside the photographic area it is quite good but it is still a different colour from a distance (I am personally is not a big fan of these sort of layouts unless they have been seamlessly inserted into the surrounding scenery, many users however swear by them).

 

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It is to be noted that these hub style airports are very complex and quite big in scale for scenery designers. To a point all scenery developers have to make a compromise and deliver only a certain amount of detail, Here at KDEN that is the case simply because of its huge size, so you can't expect the detail to be down to having completed perimeter fences and smaller detailing that you would get at a smaller airfield. but Tom has covered the detailing in a very comprehensive way as we will see.

 

There is some really great (default) densely populated traffic (highways) around the the airport, and many routes come well within the airports boundaries (turn your traffic settings up high for the best results!). If you have WorldTraffic then I would certainly get to work in filling in the huge empty spaces with working planes...  If any airport that would benefit from a lot of ground routes it would certainly be KDEN.

 

Jeppesen Terminal

 

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The focus of KDEN is certainly the striking white tent pole membrane roof of the main terminal. Some one even likened it to the Sydney Opera House? (It is nothing like the SOH as it is totally different in construction and profile). No doubt to recreate the terminal's unusual roof was going to a be a challenge as it is very hard to model canvas. And the results here are simply excellent. The detailing is first rate, and in either in being close up or set out from a distance the design is very prominent and iconic in the scenery.

The glass in colour is excellent as well, and if you are very close up with good (slight) inside detailing. On both sides of the terminal are large (four west and three east) carparks that are well designed to be part of the overall terminal complex. wider out still are large open plan carparks that are flat. The scenery has a combination of carparks that have vehicles sited on them and others that are simply flat photographic plates, I understand that covering large areas with vehicles is painstaking slow work, but why do one area and not another?  As it looks very odd.

Overall the buildings situated here in the terminal are complex in nature and have all been modeled with great skill in making them look authentic.

 

Concourse A

 

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Concourse A has 37 Gates: A24–A68 with four international boarding gates (all international arrivals at Denver use Concourse A), gate A37 is used by British Airways and gates A41 & A43 are used by Air Canada, Icelandair, and Lufthansa. Frontier Airlines is the largest carrier on Concourse A with Great Lakes Airlines which KDEN is both being a hub (base) for the airlines,  American Airlines are also located on the A concourse.

 

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All the concourses are highly complex and individual. Concourse A is mainly different from the other two in because it has the pedestrian bridge from the main terminal. The concourse is highly detailed and has been comprehensively been recreated here in this scenery. The bridge is excellent in its upward curve and glass detailing. The concourse has a ramp tower to service all the gates of which most are filled with well placed static aircraft. There is large pallet storage area on the east side of the terminal and on the west side is a great (Frontier) regional area departure building.

 

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Central of every concourse is a large central administration style building. These hub centers with an arm each side are very well created and are very imposing from the viewpoint of the ramp areas or moving along down the concourse. The one above is the "A" Concourse building.

 

Concourse B

 

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Concourse B, is almost twice as long as "A" and "C", so it over shadows the two other island concourses. Concourse B has 77 Gates: B15–B29, B31–B33, B35–B39, B42–B95. This concourse is exclusive to Star Alliance partners. And so it is dominated by United Airlines and Star Alliance partner US Airways. United Airlines has two United Clubs on Concourse B, both one level above the main area of the concourse. One is adjacent to gate B32, and the other is adjacent to gate B44. In November 2009, United and DIA reached an agreement in which United released five of its gates in the western end of the concourse. DIA in return leased these gates to United's Star Alliance partner US Airways, as US Airways has now been merged with American Airlines then this agreement may change in the future. KDEN is a United Airlines hub.

 

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The "B" concourse is a simple island large core and an arm each side style concourse. Detailng is again excellent with well constructed concourses. The glass is again highly realistic as are the boarding gates. Ramp areas are full and detailed with well placed static aircraft. The central ramp tower is slightly larger than the one on Concourse "A" . At each end of the concourse there are pallet storage areas.

 

Concourse C

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Concourse C has the bonus of having the Main Control Tower as part of the concourse. Concourse C has 22 Gates: C28–C49, and Southwest Airlines is the main carrier here, even though Delta uses the concourse as well. Concourse C also will have 6 new gates after an extension of the concourse is complete in November 2014. The new gates C22-C27 will be used by Southwest.

 

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The control tower dominates concourse "C" and excellent in design it is, and at 327-foot (100 m) high it is one of the tallest in the United States. The concourse otherwise is very similar to A and B in construction and the same central hub and two arm layout, It feels far smaller than the other two islands but more full at the gates with Southwest static aircraft and some aircraft which are animated to pushback.

 

The areas between each island is quite large. Taxi lineage is good here but not comprehensive and it feels like there should be more. Runway and taxiway signs and lineage are however very good.

 

Expansion

There are plans at KDEN for  two more Concourses to be built beyond Concourse C for future expandability. Concourse D can be built without having to move any existing structure. The underground train system, however, will have to be extended. Concourse E will require moving a United Airlines hangar. However, before construction on Concourses D and E begins, Concourses A, B, and C can also be extended in both directions.

 

North

North of the central area is the well conceived Skychefs building and storage hangers. The northern area here is however mostly used for maintenance in the large United and Continental hangars. Both buildings and certainly the larger scale United base is excellent. A peek inside the hangar will find it is well detailed with an aircraft inside being serviced.

 

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There are two small fire stations and a distance further away a large tank farm (fuel)

 

General Aviation and Corporate Jet services area.

Down along the southern/western side of Runway 17R/35L is the General Aviation and private jet facilities, There is a Signature Corporate Jet terminal and hangar and some General Aviation parking.

 

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Looking further south are the cargo ramps and warehousing.

 

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DHL, UPS and FedEx are all well represented, the ramps are well spaced with plenty of space between the static aircraft. Detailing is excellent.

 

Car Rental Yards

The Southern approaches to the airport is primarily covered by large branded car rental yards. All car rental companies are well represented here.

 

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Again the car yards are a combination of placed cars and flat photo images of cars. Looking low across the yards the set up looks odd?  But fine from the air, of which is the general idea. The area has however great traffic running through the scenery.

 

Finally on the western boundary of the central concourse areas is the main fire station and the large sets of De-Icing pads that are very well set out. Close by are another set of fuel tanks. Other details are a fenced in area with stored snow-ploughs ready for the harsh winter snow. There are many other small buidings and items spread around this very large area and too many to note here. no doubt KDEN is comprehensive in detail even down to the flags flying at the fire stations and signature terminal.

 

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Night-Lighting

The lighting of KDEN is exceptional.

Coming closer to the airport from a distance gives you a great sight from the air. All the runways are very well lit and the taxiway lighting is perfect.

 

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On approach at night you are faced with a great view of approach lighting and runways that go on a long way into the distance.

 

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With the HDR selected then Denver International comes alive with colour. All areas are extremely well lit, even down to the parking ramps set aside from the main central area. Well done besides the standard tower lighting is the twin and triple lights mounted on concourses and other buildings. Car parks are well lit as well, giving you a total full coverage of all airport areas.

 

 

At night the terminals and concourses really come alive with some brilliantly great window lighting and details...  So if you are coming to KDEN then arriving here at night is really something special.

 

Frame-rate

You would think all this scenery would heavily tax your frame-rate. The good news is that the frame-rate pull down is very light and good. There are are reasons for this. One) Tom Curtis is very good at getting the best out of his scenery without over excessive textures (The whole scenery set is only 137.30mb). Secondly) the default autogen is set a fair distance from the airport and doesn't kick your machine where it hurts. So the machine only has to process the airport scenery without taxing itself with other areas that can in most cases hurt you. It is to be noted you will need to set the texture level to "Too Much" to get the quality that you need and even then a few of the static aircraft are quite blurry. But I could easily sit in the "Too Much" setting without it going down into the 20's. so that is a great result. HDR on with all that candle-power does hurt however, and I found myself in the middle-teens, but feel I good get into the low 20's with a bit of fine tuning.

 

Arrival impressions

My arrival above the striking circular fields of Colorado was from the east with a turn to the north to start my second 90º turn back east as I circled around the Colorado State largest airport. The arrival runway was 16L, which was not the larger massive parallel 16,000ft 16R. On approach remember you are very high above AMSL at 5374ft (at RWY16L) and the height must be taken into account on setting your final approach height. A radar altimeter is invaluable here.

 

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From a distance KDEN is very greyish compared with the greens around you and the line edge of the orthophoto underlay was annoying very pronounced as you reached the edge of the scenery. Once over on to the scenery it was very good and the runways the standard Xplane textures. As an arrival the airport was visually excellent in the distance. The sense that you had arrived somewhere was excellent.

 

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KDEN is a huge and complex airport to navigate, to do some pre-landing work is always advisable. There is some taxiway signage and many direction signs that are viewable as well, the linage is very good. After cleaning up the aircraft the travel time to the gate can be quite long, certainly if you have arrived or are going to depart from one of the far out runways of the spiral as the total area covers 53 square miles. The photo underlays look very blurry at this close up distance, even with the textures set only one from the top at "Too Much". The large area also works again against these photo underlays in that it makes all the areas look very open, flat and bland...  many scenery artists like Aerosoft use poking up grass to break up such areas. Here sadly the flatness is noticable.

 

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The Control Tower view is excellent and very handy in rotation in finding the correct area (Concourse A) that I need to gate at (American). Passing all the row upon row of set out de-icing pads showed you that winter can be extreme here in Denver, It is a shame that currently Xplane can't do white snowy winters.

 

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From this low ground viewpoint KDEN looks very good and the terminals totally realistic with the tall control tower most striking. The areas between the concourses are very wide and feel quite empty if you have no aircraft traffic running, but otherwise it is an excellent view passing gates and the tall towering central parts of the concourses. There are built in extensive traffic routes (Xplane ATC). My Gate was A43 on Concourse A. Gate markings (numbered) and position align lines are very good.

There are over 90 autogates (marginal) built into KDEN, so you can never complain of not finding a gate you need. I found that the autogate was excellent at A43, and the two part direction board very good. Only issue was the ground texture and gate line was not aligned with the final parked position of the Boeing 738 aircraft.

 

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Of an arrival experience the arrival at KDEN is excellent, The same arrival at night as noted is even better.

 

Routes, these are the busiest routes to and from KDEN

Domestic

Rank  City  Passengers  Carriers

1  Phoenix, Arizona  956,000  Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United, US Airways

2  Los Angeles, California  933,000  American, Frontier, Southwest, United

3  Las Vegas, Nevada  882,000  Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United

4  San Francisco, California  830,000  Frontier, Southwest, United

5  Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas  809,000  American, Frontier, Spirit, United

6  Seattle/Tacoma, Washington  757,000  Alaska, Frontier, Southwest, United

7  Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota  735,000  Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United

8  Atlanta, Georgia  707,000  AirTran, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, United

9  Salt Lake City, Utah  706,000  Delta, Frontier, Southwest, United

10  Chicago, Illinois (O'Hare)  667,000  American, Spirit, United

 

International

1  London (Heathrow), United Kingdom  356,798  British Airways

2  Cancún, Mexico  218,469  Frontier Airlines, United Airlines

3  Toronto (Pearson), Canada  206,954  Air Canada, United Express

4  Calgary, Canada  200,300  United Airlines, United Express

5  Frankfurt, Germany  194,566  Lufthansa

6  Vancouver, Canada  155,096  United Airlines, United Express

7  Edmonton, Canada  130,562  United Express

8  Winnipeg, Canada  101,169  United Express

9  Puerto Vallarta, Mexico  94,867  Frontier Airlines, United Airlines

10  Mexico City, Mexico  63,966  Aeromexico, United Airlines, Volaris

 

Conclusions

For value KDEN - Denver International Airport is exceptional for your hard earned money. You get a lot of scenery for just under 20 US$ dollars, It is light on your frame-rate as well, with just the heavy night-lighting pushing the HDR very hard. Overall the night-lighting is exceptionally good with great textures and the glass/windows are very realistic. 90 working gates are also a great feature, as there is nothing better than having a gate close on the aircraft when shutting down the engines.

All the concourses and buildings are very well recreated and reproduced, and the significant Jeppesen Terminal and its membrane roof is excellent. There are a lot of buildings in here, and far more than you can see at a first glance.

 

The huge expanse of the photo-underlays causes the wider areas to look very flat, and areas that should not be flat to look plain as well. The flat areas of carparks are not my ideal viewpoint either, especially with some areas with and many areas without static vehicles. The worse outlook of the underlays is the actual boundries, If the photo-underlays had been set in closer to the shape of the runways then the whole scenery would have certainly gone into the higher exceptional level of standards, but in this case the gray area squares stand out for miles against the more brighter X-Plane default backgrounds, and the crossover line edges are just as bad.

 

Certainly I would love to see this scenery under a seasons worth of snow and ice, that may come for X-Plane one day. But for now it is very good anyway. with very well laid in ATC routes, and if you have World Traffic you can really make KDEN buzz.

 

Overall KDEN is excellent destination scenery as all Tom Curtis scenery usually is. It is highly detailed and very well designed and modeled. KDEN is a huge space of an airport, just simply massive and very good scenery. A certain buy for anyone that need an excellent Mid-Western hub.

 

Yes! the Denver International Airport (KDEN) by Tom Curtis is now Available from the X-Plane.OrgStore : Denver International Airport

 

Price is  US$19.95 - note : X-Plane9 is available on request

 

Installation

KDEN - Denver International Airport is a download of 46.1mb that is unzipped to 137.30mb install. There are two items in the download folder that need to be installed in your resources/plugin folder. First is the Marginal "autogate" plugin (If you don't have it already installed) the second is the "Real Flag plugin" (CustomSBDatarefs004) for flapping in the wind realistic flags.

 

Developers Site :  Scenery4xp

Review By Stephen Dutton

 

14th February 2014

 

©copyright 2014 : X-Plane Reviews

 

Technical Requirements:

Windows , MAC or Linux

X-Plane 10 - X-Plane 9 available on request. Send us an email after you place the order

4GB RAM/1GB VRAM - 100MB HD - Version 1

(last updated Feb 6th ,2014)

 

Review System Specifications:

Computer System:     

- 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 iMac 27”

- 6 Gb 1067 Mhz DDR3

- ATI Radeon HD 4850 512mb

Software:     

- Mac OS Mavericks 10.9

- X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.25 (final)

Addons

- Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle

Aircraft

x737 - EADT - 737 Project (free)

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