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Scenery Review: KSJC - San Jose International Airport by Short Final Designs

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Scenery Review: KSJC - San Jose International Airport by Short Final Designs


By DrishalMAC2


Situated in the vibrant heart of Silicon Valley, Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (KSJC) serves as an important hub for technology professionals, business travellers, and tourists alike. Conveniently located near the bustling downtown area, KSJC offers easy access to the heart of tech innovation, with close proximity to key players such as Google, Apple, and Facebook.

KSJC features two parallel runways (12L/30R and 12R/30L) and primarily hosts regional carriers such as Southwest, Alaska, and Spirit; however, larger carriers like Delta, American, and even British Airways also operate from here. As a fan of large airports and heavy metal airliners, I was particularly excited to explore ShortFinal Designs’ (SFD) latest airport for X-Plane 12. Known for their attention to detail and realism, my expectations were high. Let’s see if this scenery package lives up to everything I want it to be…



The installation process for "SFD_KSJC_San_Jose" is straightforward. Simply extract the zip file and drag the “SFD_KSJC_San_Jose” folder into your X-Plane 12 Custom Scenery folder. The initial download is 1.21 GB, and once extracted, expands to a slightly larger 1.86 GB. Quite reasonable considering both the size of the airport and the quality within.

For those who prefer using their own ortho textures, an option is available. Navigate to the “!Alternative versions” folder and open the “No Ortho” folder. Here, you will find an “Earth Nav Data” folder. Copy this folder into the main “SFD_KSJC_San_Jose” folder and, when prompted, overwrite the existing files. This change can be reversed by dragging the “Earth Nav Data” folder from the “Ortho (default)” folder back into the main directory. This flexibility in texture choice is a highly welcomed addition to the scenery and one that is often overlooked by developers. 

Additional plugins that enhance the scenery, such as LST (Living Scenery Technology) or SAM (Scenery Animation Manager), can be installed into your X-Plane "plugins" folder. These plugins are not required but highly recommended for an enhanced experience. If you are using X-Plane 12.1, I recommend using the openSAM plugin as an alternative to SAM, since SAM may cause some issues with XP12.1.




The PDF manual included is short but thorough, covering the entire installation process as detailed previously. It also provides links to the above-mentioned plugins and offers a description of the airport along with special features of the scenery. Additionally, the manual contains license information and contact details should product support be required. While the manual is comprehensive in many respects, it was slightly disappointing to see that no airport charts were included. However, they are readily available online, allowing users to easily obtain them as needed.




Ground Textures
For this review, I selected the 'No Ortho' version, complemented by simHeaven’s excellent X-World America, my own custom ortho textures, and Global Trees. This combination significantly enhanced the area surrounding the airport, making it far more inviting than X-Plane’s default autogen and textures.


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The runway textures are of extremely high quality, with elements such as touchdown zone markers and aiming points accurately placed, reflecting the real airport's layout well. Additional textures like tire marks and various grunge effects have been added to the runway textures to give an authentic appearance. 


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The taxiway textures are also impressive, featuring a high-quality base texture adorned with various grunge effects and tire marks to suggest usage. This depiction is true to life, as verified by examining Google Maps, where the taxiways at KSJC appear quite clean despite the airport's heavy traffic. 


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However, plenty of marks, damage, and oil spills have been realistically replicated at the aircraft stands, ensuring the airport still presents a used feel while remaining authentic.


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The ground textures on the southwest side of the airport (not to be confused with the airline) are particularly appealing, featuring a darker shade with more wear and tear. Additionally, the patchwork on the airport taxiways has been carefully modelled by SFD, with the various shades of concrete visible on Google Maps faithfully reproduced here. Tar lines have been beautifully utilized in some areas to provide a smooth transition between different concrete textures. I especially appreciate it when scenery developers take the time to include these details, as they significantly enhance the overall scenery.


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Signage and Foliage
Both the 3D airport signs, and the ground signs are of high quality and are placed exactly where one would expect them to be for an airport of this size. The 2D signs on the ground are particularly notable for their textured depth and slightly washed-out appearance, which avoids the overly bright and heavy contrast typical of default airport signs in X-Plane. SFD has done a brilliant job here.


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Custom trees and foliage have been strategically placed, especially along the northeast corner where a dense strip of trees significantly enhances the approach. Additional foliage has been added around areas such as the car parks and along nearby roads, contributing to a cohesive landscape. I'm happy to report that all the trees are 3D, demonstrating SFD's use of the latest X-Plane 12 features. 


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3D grass, available exclusively with the Ortho (Default)" version of the scenery, is placed strategically within the airport. Its colour matches the ortho imagery perfectly. The grass is kept short, aligning with real-world airport practices to minimize long vegetation, which helps deter birds and other wildlife. 


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Terminal A
Terminal A at KSJC has been well modelled, displaying a high level of detail, particularly on the roof, a commonly overlooked area that has been given due attention here. The jetways, drainage pipes, air conditioning units, safety barriers, and extruded pavements are all modelled to an extremely high standard, contributing to the terminal's realistic appearance.


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The interior of the terminal is also well-designed, featuring just enough detail to be believable from the perspective of your aircraft parked at the ramp. The inclusion of 3D people, airport signage, gate desks, and various shops creates a convincing scene inside the terminal. The external texture work is excellent, showcasing detailed representations of dirt and wear that add to the authenticity.

Although the interior textures are of lower quality, this is intentional as higher resolution textures are unnecessary for areas not typically accessed during normal use. This approach not only ensures efficient use of computer resources but also helps maintain VRAM usage and overall performance at an acceptable level.


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Terminal B
Terminal B at KSJC boasts a more unique and striking design, making it instantly recognizable as part of the San Jose airport. The roof has been expertly modelled with a high polygon count, giving its curves a visually pleasing appearance. The overall structure of the terminal mirrors the high standards seen in Terminal A, with equally meticulous modelling.


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Inside, Terminal B features even greater detail and accuracy than Terminal A, presenting a fantastic visual experience. The eateries, in particular, have been modelled and textured beautifully, likely delighting those familiar with the airport. Important airport elements like departure and arrival boards, as well as various advertisement boards, have been carefully modelled to enhance realism. The quality of the textures, both externally and internally, continues to impress throughout the terminal, reflecting the high standard of the entire package.


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Other Airport Buildings
The additional structures at KSJC, including the fire station, various hangars, the LSG Sky Chefs building, Southwest Cargo warehouse, and multiple FBOs and maintenance hangars, are modelled to a high standard. The texturing aligns with the quality observed in Terminals A and B. Particularly standout features are the NetJets hangar and the ATC control tower, both of which are remarkably well-executed and enhance the airport's realistic feel.


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Surrounding Buildings
SFD has excelled in modelling the area surrounding KSJC. Iconic locales such as PayPal Park, In ‘n’ Out Burger, At Home homeware store, City Sports Club, Staples, and the modern office buildings along Coleman Avenue are rendered with impressive accuracy. These buildings look spectacular both when on final approach and while taxiing to the runway. Additionally, the SP+ parking garage and the SJC Car Rental Centre have been carefully modelled to match this high level of detail. The self-storage buildings to the southwest of the airport are also notable, particularly when making final approaches into runways 30L or 30R. The collection of these distinctive buildings around KSJC airport creates an authentic and unique atmosphere, enhancing the experience of flying into or out of the area.


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Ground Clutter
The airport features an abundance of ground clutter, including custom items such as Southwest baggage carts and pushback tugs. The texture work and modelling of these elements are of very high quality, ranking among the best I have encountered in any scenery. The arrangement of the clutter is both random and orderly, contributing to the authentic feel of the airport without giving it a “copy and paste” appearance.


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SFD’s attention to detail extends to the placement of 3D people throughout the ramp area, an element that is highly appreciated and often overlooked by other scenery developers. Furthermore, the integration of Living Scenery Technology (LST) from X-CODR injects a vibrant life into the scenery, with airport operation vehicles actively moving across the airport. This bustling activity truly makes the airport feel alive and teeming with movement.


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Night Lighting
The night lighting at KSJC is executed exceptionally well, striking the perfect balance of brightness in the ramp areas. The taxiway and runway lighting are also of high quality, with special attention given to the approach lighting. A comparison with real-world airport data from airnav.com confirms the accuracy of the lighting setups at KSJC. Notably, there is no Touchdown Zone (TDZ) lighting, and the Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach lighting is correctly implemented only for runway 12R/30L. Such precision in lighting design demonstrates ShortFinal Designs' (SFD) commitment to detail, closely mirroring the actual conditions found at the airport.


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On my system, whose specs are detailed at the end of this review, the performance is quite impressive. I observed no noticeable drop in FPS when comparing this scenery to the default, nor were there any stutters. This is particularly commendable given the extensive size, high level of detail, and the comprehensive environment of the airport. For reference, my testing was conducted using simHeaven’s X-World America and Global Forests with settings on high and medium.


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Reflecting on my exploration of ShortFinalDesigns' KSJC San Jose Airport for X-Plane 12, I am thoroughly impressed by how the scenery vividly brings this bustling hub to life. The package's outstanding realism, and careful attention to detail perfectly capture the essence of San Jose's vibrant airport. The installation process was straightforward, helped by clear and helpful documentation. A minor drawback is the absence of airport charts, though these are readily available online. The ground textures are vivid and precise, authentically depicting the airport’s natural wear and tear.


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The interiors of Terminals A and B boast exceptional depth and realism, enhancing the immersive experience without overtaxing system resources. Additionally, the surrounding airport buildings and landmarks, often overlooked in other scenery packages, receive detailed attention, significantly enriching the atmospheric scene. The dynamic presence of bustling ground vehicles and lifelike 3D people further animates the setting.


In conclusion, SFD’s KSJC for X-Plane 12 offers an exceptional experience for the price. It successfully captures the atmosphere of San Jose’s airport, transforming every visit into a uniquely immersive journey. 






KSJC - San Jose International Airport by Short Final Designs is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:


KSJC - San Jose International Airport

Priced at $22.95



High-Definition Airport

  • Accurate airport layout (as of 2024)
  • Detailed models for all buildings with baked ambient occlusion
  • Terminals with fully modeled interiors
  • Detailed general aviation area with several hangar interiors
  • PBR materials on objects and ground
  • Custom dynamic night lighting
  • Custom high resolution pavement textures and markings
  • High resolution photo scenery (30cm/px)
  • Compatible with any mesh scenery
  • Surrounding buildings including the PayPal Park stadium
  • 3D vegetation

Fully Animated Airport

  • Animated cars and buses
  • Animated passengers and workers
  • Custom animated airport vehicles with PBR materials and FMOD sounds
  • Detailed animated jetways with SAM integration
  • Various user-controlled hangar doors (SAM plugin required)
  • ATC network included for AI traffic addons


X-Plane 12 (not for XP11)
Windows, Mac, or Linux
8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
Download Size: 1.2 GB
Version 1.0 (May 22nd 2024)


Review System Specifications

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


Scenery Review by DrishalMAC2

21st June 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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  • Dominic Smith changed the title to Scenery Review: KSJC - San Jose International Airport by Short Final Designs

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