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Scenery Review: KDCA Washington Airport & City XP12 by Drzewiecki Design

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Scenery Review: KDCA Washington Airport & City XP12 by Drzewiecki Design


By DrishalMAC2


Situated in the bustling heart of the nation's capital, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (KDCA) serves as an essential hub for both business and leisure travellers. Located along the scenic banks of the Potomac River, this airport offers a gateway to the iconic landmarks and political intrigue of Washington, D.C.

KDCA boasts three runways (01/19, 15/33, and 22/4), providing a seamless travel experience with its modern facilities and efficient operations. Its advanced amenities ensure smooth departures and arrivals for various aircraft, from regional jets to larger commercial airliners. Besides its operational capabilities, KDCA also holds historical significance, reflecting the rich heritage of American aviation. Named in honour of Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, the airport serves as a tribute to his legacy and ongoing impact on the country.

Located in the heart of Washington, D.C., KDCA provides convenient access to the city’s diverse attractions, including the significant monuments of the National Mall and the legislative activity at Capitol Hill. Whether visitors are exploring political landmarks or engaging with local culture, KDCA serves as an efficient and welcoming gateway, reflecting the standards of excellence and innovation characteristic of American aviation.


This is Drzewiecki Designs' first XP12 scenery, which enhances parts of the city and upgrades some nearby buildings with helipads, making them “landable”. This feature is especially appealing for X-Plane users who enjoy flying rotary-wing aircraft.



Installation Process
Once you've downloaded the ZIP file, it's 1.5 GB in size; when extracted, it expands to 3.4 GB. This size is quite reasonable given the extensive content included in this scenery package. The installation process itself is straightforward: upon opening the extracted folder, you'll find three additional folders. Simply drag and drop the "DD Washington City XP12" and "DD KDCA Washington XP12" folders directly into your X-Plane 12 custom scenery folder.

The download includes four documents. Three of these are installation instructions available in Russian, Polish, and English, and are clearly written and simplify the installation process. The fourth document is a "manual" that provides an overview of the airport, condensed installation instructions, links to relevant charts, a list of scenery features, links to support pages, credits, and a license agreement.



Satellite Imagery

The satellite imagery directly surrounding the airport is of decent quality, though there are better examples available elsewhere. The package also includes ortho satellite imagery for the entire surrounding area; however, this is of noticeably lower quality. While it improves upon the default textures by X-Plane (what wouldn’t), it would be beneficial to have the option to remove this layer and use our own, self-generated Ortho4XP tiles instead. The lower zoom level of the satellite imagery particularly affects the depiction of the Potomac riverbanks, which appear quite harsh and do not look as impressive, especially when following the DCA river visual approach. In future updates, an option to replace this with self-generated ortho tiles would be highly welcomed.


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Ground Textures
The runway textures in this scenery are reasonable, enhanced by additional tire marks to convey a sense of daily use. However, there is a notable issue with texture uniformity across all three runways. For instance, the real runway 15/33, features a mixture of different coloured surfaces, which has not been replicated here. Introducing more distinctive runway textures that reflect these real-life variations would significantly enhance the scenery's authenticity. Additionally, the edges of the runway textures appear quite harsh, so incorporating some kind of transitional texture could greatly improve the overall appearance and integration with the surrounding environment.


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Similarly, the taxiway textures, while visually appealing, suffer from repetitiveness, with the same texture used across approximately 90% of the airport. This does not accurately reflect the actual variety seen in aerial images, such as those on Google Maps. 



Despite this, the added tire marks and wear and tear effects on these textures do lend a highly authentic look.


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Signage and Navigation Aids

The airport signage in this scenery has been handled quite well, with all the necessary runway and taxiway signs positioned accurately. The signs are sharp and easily legible, which enhances navigational clarity for simmers. Additionally, the Washington (Ident: DCA) VORDME has been included and correctly placed, which is particularly noteworthy and adds a realistic touch to the scenery.


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GA Terminal and Hangars
The GA terminal is modelled to a high standard and seamlessly integrates with the main passenger terminal. The GA hangars are also well modelled, with a few having open doors, revealing aircraft inside, and include detailed interiors, including general clutter like ladders, cones, and boxes, adding to the realism. Additionally, banners inside the hangars indicate their specific functions, such as “American Airlines DCA Maintenance” and “Signature Flight Support.”


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Outside the hangars, there are two corporate jets parked, one of which has its main door open, showing people engaged in conversation. This area also includes the U.S. Coast Guard ramp, where two Coast Guard helicopters are stationed at their designated spots.


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Terminal 1
Terminal 1 has been modelled to a high standard, effectively replicating the real structure. However, the textures sometimes appear flat and could benefit from more variation to enhance realism. In contrast, the ground texturing around concourse A is notably well-executed, featuring oil spills and signs of wear and tear that add authenticity to the environment. The various concrete and asphalt textures around this area have been accurately reproduced, confirmed through comparisons with Google Maps images of the actual airport.


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Much like the exterior, the interior of Terminal 1 is also modelled to a high standard, including detailed elements such as airline signs at each gate, reflecting real-life arrangements. Additionally, numerous 3D figures are positioned throughout the terminal, creating a bustling atmosphere that enhances the view from the cockpit of aircraft at the gates.


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Terminal 2
Special attention has been given to Terminal 2, making it instantly recognisable. The exterior is modelled to a higher standard than Terminal 1, with improved texture quality that enhances its appearance. 


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Inside, Terminal 2 excels at capturing the distinctive atmosphere of DCA with its beautifully recreated roof and glossy floors that contribute to a polished look (pun intended). Each airline is provided with a realistically designed check-in desk area, enhancing the authenticity of the terminal. Although the various shops are represented only as 2D images, this decision is practical, considering that simmers typically spend limited time inside scenery terminals. 


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The concourses B, C, D, and E have also been replicated to a high standard, featuring beautiful ground textures that add to the overall aesthetic quality.


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Ground Clutter and 3D People

The ground clutter around the airport is varied effectively across different stands, contributing to a dynamic and realistic environment that avoids a repetitive "copy and paste" appearance, which is sometimes visible in other payware sceneries. Some of this clutter is airline-specific, featuring items like U.S Airways coaches and Delta baggage carts, although the presence of U.S Airways equipment may not be entirely accurate given the fact that the airline has ceased operations. 


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Whilst the terminal interiors are nicely populated with numerous 3D people, adding to the bustling atmosphere, the ramp areas show a noticeable lack of ground personnel. This absence detracts from the realism on the airside, where the presence of staff is critical for an authentic airport experience.


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Night Lighting
Night lighting is executed exceptionally well, featuring bright white lights around the ramp areas that enhance visibility and ambiance. The taxiway and runway lighting also receive high marks for their clarity and precision, with special attention given to the approach lighting. This is especially notable for the RNAV approach into runway 19, which follows the Potomac River. The approach lights mounted on various bridges along the river are synchronized to flash together, providing a striking visual reference for pilots. Overall, the night lighting is impressive, incorporating several thoughtful details that greatly benefit the night-time flying experience.


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At night, due to the way the lighting has been applied, the building interiors really come alive. During the day, the lighting comes across as slightly dull, but at night, it is transformed, giving the buildings a vibrant, welcoming glow. The contrast between day and night is quite remarkable.


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The Capital 
In addition to the airport, the package extensively covers many of Washington D.C.'s landmarks and a significant portion of the inner city. To the west of the airport, areas known as "Crystal City" and "Pentagon City" are modelled to a high standard, featuring custom buildings that are accurately placed, surpassing the autogen quality provided by simHeaven’s X-World America. 


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The downtown D.C. area, including iconic landmarks such as The White House, Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, is also included and modelled to the same standards. 


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In total, the scenery features over a thousand landmark buildings in the vicinity of the airport, each contributing to the authenticity of the package. If you've visited Washington D.C., you’ll certainly enjoy exploring the area; just remember to bring a guide!


Performance Impact

I'm pleased to report that the scenery is very well optimised, with no noticeable loss in performance on my system (specs below). This is particularly surprising given the extensive detail included in the package and the generally high demands of the Washington D.C. area. 


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Having explored the enhancements to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport by Drzewiecki Designs, it's clear that the improvements to both the airport and the surrounding Washington D.C. area is impressive. The package excels with its detailed rendering of terminals, hangars, and particularly the night lighting along the Potomac River. The accurate depiction of landmarks and key areas such as Crystal City and Downtown DC significantly enriches the overall experience. Although there is room for improvement in texture quality, particularly the supplied orthos, and a more 'populated' ground environment outside of the terminals, these issues do not significantly detract from the overall high quality of the scenery.

In summary, with its thorough execution and extensive features, this scenery provides substantial value, enhancing the X-Plane 12 flying experience in the nation’s capital.





KDCA Washington Airport & City XP12 by Drzewiecki Design is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:


KDCA Washington Airport & City XP12

Priced at $30.00



  • A high-quality model of KDCA Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, featuring the up-to-date version with extensive details throughout the whole airport
  • FPS-friendly design, with epic night textures, dynamic lighting and PBR materials
  • Performance-friendly interior modeling at terminal buildings, control towers, and some hangars, static aircraft, advanced night lighting (incl. River Visual and dual PAPI), animated trains
  • Animated jetways, VGDS, marshallers (SAM plugin)
  • Washington D.C. city scenery included, with over a thousand landmark buildings surrounding the airport, ortho coverage and some lite airports


X-Plane 12
Windows, Mac, Linux
8 GB+ VRAM highly Recommended
Download size: 1.5 GB
Current version: 1.1 (March 22 2024)


Review System Specifications

Windows 10, Intel i5-12400F, 32GB RAM, RTX 3070Ti 


Scenery Review by DrishalMAC2

10th May 2024

Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews


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





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