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Scenery Review : KFLL - Fort Lauderdale International by Departure Designs

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Scenery Review : KFLL - Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International by Departure Designs

 

In my early X-PlaneReviews there one route that I used a lot and was from KLAL Kinder/Lakeland to KFLL - Fort Lauderdale. As I was flying in a general aviation aircraft then KFLL made more sense than the mega KMIA - Miami International which in reality is a bit of a light aircraft's nightmare with so much heavy traffic, in that KFLL is not lightweight in heavy traffic either as it hosts a lot of regional and even international traffic, but it is also far more general aviation friendly and accessible. So I used to enjoy immensely my little trips across Florida to visit Fort Lauderdale and the airport appeared in many a review... only issue was the scenery five or so years ago was absolute crap, and so as better scenery destinations became available then KFLL slowly but surely disappeared from my most visited list and so it was gone but not forgotten.

 

So the chance to update to a far more modern and realistic version of KFLL - Fort Lauderdale International by Departure Designs brought forward a lot of memories, but would it be the same KFLL that I once loved and enjoyed.. there was only one way to find out, fly there.

 

Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood

International Airport

IATA: FLL - ICAO: KFLL - FAA LID: FLL

KFLL Charts.jpg

10L/28R - 9,000ft (2,743m) Asphalt

10R/28L - 8,000ft (2,438m) Concrete

Elevation AMSL 65 ft / 20 m

 

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In many ways the layout of KFLL is not much different than KMIA from the air, KMIA is of course much bigger and has that cross runway of 12/30, KFLL also had the same crosswind runway (13/31) but it was decommissioned on May 6, 2013. So from a distance in the air you could actually get them mixed up as the U shaped west facing terminal layout is very similar as well. Intergration into the Florida landscape overall is excellent, but there some question marks on the joins of the Federal Hwy (1) to the default scenery that passes the east side of the airport...

 

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...  fitting in to say Orbx's TrueEarth US Florida might be more perfect as I think it was designed in this aspect, but in default it looks a little messy.

 

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What stands Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood Airport out to be different and the main reason of it's existence is Port Lauderdale, which is the biggest cruise ship terminal in the world. A significant dogleg to the EFLL scenery is the Port Lauderdale aspect and it is done well...

 

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...  overall the port is basic, with a huge fuel depot set out behind...  but you do get two nice cruise ships in the harbour with "Serenade of the Seas" and Carnival's "Carnival Elation", the two ships are nice but one more or even two would have hidden the basic wharf they are moored at, quality is Lo-Res as well, but on approach or departure the ships look in keeping of the scenery. The rest of Port Lauderdale is modeled, but it feels half completed in detail, and no ships in the port either only add in to the emptiness.

 

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The huge three massive central carparks dominate the scenery, along with the four terminals and the seven concourses that are set out around the U shaped parameter...

 

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Terminal 1, "The New Terminal" - (Yellow)

Commonly referred to as "The New Terminal," The terminal opened in stages between 2001 and 2003, then another extension was added between late 2015 and was completed in June 2017. The noted Yellow Terminal has three concourses (A, B, & C) and 23 gates. Concourse A opened on July 5, 2017 and has 7 gates (A1-A7), Concourse B has 7 gates (B2, B4-B9), and Concourse C has 9 gates (C1-C9). Concourse A mainly serves Southwest.

 

Glass is a major divider of developers in scenery as many get glass right, but a lot don't.... even the good ones. Terminal one is a huge span of a terminal that has a basic internal fit-out. Modeling is good, but not outstanding, however all the airbridges are SAM - Scenery Animation Manager active...

 

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The terminal building itself is not too bad, but the newer Concourse A Terminal has a highly reflective glass. From a lot of perspectives it looks okay, but the high reflection causes weird artifacts and creates an un-natural look and feel of the concourse? Internally in the terminal it looks like there is no glass in the building either? so it is all a bit weird...  the real terminal glass is actually dark green. Externally the terminal thankfully looks fine.

 

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Terminal 2  - Delta - (Red)

The Red Terminal has one concourse (D) and 9 gates and Delta Air Lines operates a Sky Club here, and one of six clubrooms in the state of Florida and this terminal is used by both Delta and Air Canada.

 

The smallest terminal at FLL, Terminal 2 has a cavernous roof and again an all glass facade, the internal aspect is highly viewable, but has the same no glass look internally, so it doesn't look realistic.

 

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Terminal 3: - Main Terminal - (Purple)

The Purple Terminal has two concourses (E & F) and 20 gates.This terminal is used by American Airlines, Azul, Emirates, JetBlue, Norwegian, and some Spirit Airlines flights.

 

Terminal 3 works better because it doesn't try as hard to be realistic... no large glass areas and better green glass here make a large difference, the tired concrete facade looks good as well.

 

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Terminal 4: International Terminal - (Green)

The Green Terminal has one concourse (G) and 14 gates (G1-G14) and one arrivals area for bussing operations. Concourse H was closed in December 2017 and has since been demolished. The former Concourse H was reconfigured and redesigned by the architectural firms of PGAL/Zyscovich joint venture with the newer three-story facility that was then renamed Concourse G. This terminal is used by Air Transat, Avianca, British Airways, Caribbean Airlines, Frontier, IBC, SkyBahamas, Spirit, and TAME which are all mostly International carriers.

 

Terminal 4 is right and bang up to date in design with the old Concourse H nowhere to be seen. surprisingly the green glass is perfect here? and the terminal looks far better and the most modern design at FLL. Odd though is the clutter so well done and heavy at the other terminals is missing here?

 

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Landside is a bit boring and empty of detail with a lot of burnt in vehicles....    and the traffic does flow around the terminal is overall weak.

 

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There is a few animated traffic vehicles that go all around (I mean totally around the airport parameter?) and clutter except for Ter 4 is very good, but not FLL branded.

 

Mid-Field

Again like KMIA the control tower is far west mid-field, surrounding the tower are large (Private Jet) hangar parking (west) and various associated personal jet busnesses including: SheltAir, Bombardier (Learjet) and Signature...

 

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....  the control tower is presentable but not overly detailed, a few 3d cars placed over the burnt in ground objects (hiding) would have certainly helped, the radar on the tower is not animated either (boo) and the tower view is set right, but too low and obstructed?

 

The far east "Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum" is present, but only as a building, I doubt the developer were aware of the Museum's significance to the area? It was NAS Fort Lauderdale that was the home base for Flight-19 the five TBM Avengers that disappeared in December 1945, leading in part to the notoriety of the "Bermuda Triangle"

 

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North Boundary

Again very similar to KMIA is the north boundary of LFF with Cargo, and various aviation businesses and a catering company from left to right.

 

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Far north is the UPS depot with an abandoned static B727...  followed by the main cargo with FedEx dominating the apron, and very well done the FedEx freight terminal is...

 

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Next door is called the "New Area" or a rebuilt area and National Jet is the main tenant, the building up close has some odd graphic glass, it is debatable if it works as there are no palm trees anywhere near the windows they are reflecting?...

 

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....  then next are three storage hangars.

 

One of the biggest tenants on this north side is Spirit Airlines, incorporated in the same building is the Flightline Drug Testing facility and IBC Airways...

 

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.... Embraer have a regional service facility that is well done, then at the far east end is a few more private jet hangars and finally a SkyChiefs catering faclity far east.

 

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Interesting aspect is that at the end of each runway at KFLL is a EMAS

 

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EMAS, of which stands for Engineered Materials Arresting Systems, which is crushable concrete and it is packed into blocks about 3 feet thick and 4 feet wide.

The blocks are layered in such that the farther a plane plows over the end of a runway, the more EMAS counter resistance it encounters. The affect is akin to driving a car into deep, soft sand and arresting the momentum of the aircraft.

 

Ground Textures

I find that most American airports have average ground textures, mostly in trying to replicate the concrete block approach of the way the US build's it's airports...   But at KFLL and even from my first landing I realised the ground textures were really good here and very realistic.

 

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Shoulders are highly realistic and linage wear and tear is also very good. The complex different surfaces are also very well represented and you feel as a whole the field is very authentic...

 

There is a highway (1) and runway 28L threshold crossover interchange, overall the crossover is done very well, but badly in other ways as under the overpass the roads disconnect and vehicles travel badly, the burnt in car images don't help either?....

 

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....  but the elevations of the complex area is done really well with the mixture between the concrete and grass done extremely well. Grass is very good, but very tall were placed, but in other areas were there should be grass like with the inner field there isn't any grass? but the nature of the textures do however hide that...  so overall the field aspect is excellent.

 

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Lighting

Overall the lighting is below average?  it also feels half-completed on release....  approach lighting is okay, but the biggest missing factor is....

 

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....  there is no taxiway lighting or centre runway guidance anywhere? it is just a blackhole from the point you land to the gate.

 

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Central terminal area is also bleak, the gates are lit, but not by much, but with no landside or road lighting at all, it makes the whole area quite dark and foreboding.

 

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Not really it is not good enough really for a scenery in this payware category?

 

Those poor terminal glass textures don't come across well in the dark either?  They mostly come out in shades of grey....

 

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.... the clear aspect of Terminal 1 is still debatable, many will like the open internal view, but it overall doesn't look very real? Ditto the same at Terminal 2.

 

Terminal 3 is passable, but the ramp lighting has so little illumination throw and you will work down there mostly in the dark.

 

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Again it is the new Terminal 4 that looks the best here, it is passable but not brilliant in a "blow you away" effect.

 

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North boundary lighting is quite honest awful...  as all the buildings are set in this yellow hue? I don't think there is worst FedEx building in the United States that looks like this at night, a shame as in the daylight this FedEx building looks great?

 

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....   the worst is the large windows of National Jet? it is just as horrible as you could expect them to be at a close range. This sort of photo lighting design went out with the worst of FlightSim years ago.

 

The cruise ships look quite nice at their moorings, but the rest of both ports are in complete darkness, so you don't have much to look at on a night arrival or departure? There a some nicely lit billboards however, and they look quite good, but overall the lighting does not live up to the scale of the scenery.

 

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WT3/Traffic Global. WT3 ground routes come with the scenery, but the "KFLL-Parking Def" file is missing? This translates to yes a fully working FLL, but the arrivals don't work cleanly and the wrong aircraft are parked at the wrong gates and in the cargo areas? maybe a simple generation might do a better job than the provided files?

Traffic Global works fine, but expect aircraft to mixed up at the terminal gates and not in line with their branding, and the same in other parking areas, like with an Emirates B777 at the FedEx cargo base, but the actual brand mix is very good with Spirit and JetBlue dominating.

 

Postscript

As I hinted at the head of this review I had a pretty if very basic office at KFLL for years, but this scenery wiped away the area I once staked out as my own...  well I'm back and to note these items are NOT in the scenery package, but were placed there by myself courtesy of OpenScenery X.

 

I commandeered or rather stalked out a stretch of grass outside the National Jet facility and set down my Porta-Office, with some seating, fuel and waste bins... so all set to go, and now open for business at KFLL, credit cards and PayPal accepted.

 

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Summary

KFLL - Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport is the second largest airport in Florida and in the mix as one of the most busiest in the USA.

This scenery is by Departure Designs and quite difficult to surmise in context. It is one of those really frustrating sceneries you come across that has everything in there and required to be absolutely brilliant, but here it falls short. Overall KFLL looks and feels very good, but it is in the details and under development that really let it down.

 

Modeling is very good, but the glass except for Terminal 3 and 4 is not very good at all, see though terminals may be to a lot of people look exciting and realistic, but I differ here... to me they just look empty and bland without any tinting, worst is that the reflective glass in that it just reflects everything and looks quite odd with strange weird artifacts at many viewing angles.

 

The field and ground textures are very good, very realistic and so is the Fed Hwy (1) and RWY 28L crossover, but the join is not very authentic, but the elevation elements around it are well done. The external Port Lauderdale is well done but feels half-completed, and a few more cruise liners or even some cargo ships would have been nice. SAM - Scenery Animation Manager is supported and welcome.

 

Lighting is below average...  even weird in areas, but no centre-line runway lighting or the required green taxiway lighting is simply a major failure, and makes the scenery look dark at night, ditto is the missing landside road lightng that creates a blackhole in the centre terminal area, so in many areas the KFLL feels very under developed and it certainly does not live up to the expectations of what can easily be achieved here.

 

Like in many areas in both aircraft and sceneries it is the polish, that final 10% of that 100% that creates the magic, and don't get me wrong in many areas I really love this Fort Lauderdale scenery as it fits in well with the south Florida aspect and as a great companion to the mega KMIA next door. If you want a good KFLL then certainly this scenery can certainly fill out that role, but it just needs a bit more finesse to be really good or even brilliant.

_____________________________________

 

X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg

 

Yes! KFLL - Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International by Departure Designs is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :


KFLL - Fort Lauderdale International

 

Price is US$23.99

 

Features:
  • Heavily optimized Airport
  • PBR Textures throughout Airport
  • Rain Textures
  • SAM Jetways
  • Accurate Elevated Runway
  • Highly detailed Custom Animated SAM Jetways
  • Custom WT3 support
  • Custom Night Lighting 
  • color graded Satellite Imagery 
  • High Resolution 4K Textures
  • Terminal layout circa Q2 2020
  • Compatible with all Florida sceneries
  • Ortho4XP Compatible

 

WT3:  WorldTraffic GroundRoutes are provided and overall the airport generation functions perfectly but the package comes with no Parking Defs?

 

Requirements:

Windows, Mac or Linux
4GB VRAM Minimim - 8GB+ VRAM Recommended
Current and Review version: 1.0 (May 2nd 2020)
Download size: 2 GB
 
Installation
Download scenery file size is 1.85gb:
 
  • Fort Lauderdale

 

Annoyingly there is a folder within a folder here? So you will need to remove...

 

  • Dep_KFLL

 

...     and then place THIS file in the X-Plane Custom Scenery folder, if not the scenery won't work?

 

Total scenery installation is quite big : 3.90gb

 

SAM Plugin - Scenery Animation Manager - Suite 1.0 is required for this scenery

 

Documents

One extensive manual in English with notes (1 page) but no charts

 

  • FLL Manual.pdf

_____________________________________________________________________

 

Scenery Review by Stephen Dutton

8th May 2020

Copyright©2020 : 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)

 

Review System Specifications: 

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1TB SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane  11.41 - tested v11.50.b6 (fine)

Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini

Plugins: Traffic Global (Just Flight) US$52.99

Scenery or Aircraft

- Default Boeing 737-800 by Laminar Reserch

 

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