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Scenery Review : FALE - Durban XP by Aerosoft/FSDG


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Scenery Review : FALE - Durban XP by Aerosoft/FSDG

 

Only a month after their last crossover conversion scenery of HKJK Nairobi "Jomo Kenyatta", then FSGD - FlightSim Development Group through Aerosoft have now released for X-Plane11 Durban XP or to give it it's full name "King Shaka International Airport Durban". This Durban scenery is also the third scenery released for Africa after GMMN - Casablanca and HKJK Nairobi, of which I am finding that they are all workmanlike sceneries, but certainly not average either. They are however also in bringing the African continent alive, so these sceneries are very interesting in that important aspect. 

 

Starting the review I thought I would just "Hop" on down from FSDG's last scenery in Nairobi, but on checking out the route I found that the simple "hop" was actually 1800nm or around 4h 30m flying time, so that shows the massive size of the African continent, it is doable obviously and I will fly that route, but in reality we need to get on and take a look at King Shaka International Airport.

 

King Shaka International Airport abbreviated KSIA (Shaka was the leader of the Zulu nation in the early 19th century), is the primary airport serving Durban, South Africa. Located in La Mercy, KwaZulu-Natal, approximately 35 km (22 mi) north of the city centre of Durban, it opened its doors to passengers on 1 May 2010, just over a month before the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It replaced Durban International Airport (ICAO: FADN) and uses the same IATA airport code. So the airport KSIA is very new in a clear field design.

 

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King Shaka International Airport

IATA: DUR - ICAO: FALE

FALE Charts.jpg

06/24 - 3,700m (12,139ft) Asphalt

Elevation AMSL93 m / 304 ft

 

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Being modern and a fresh field layout then FALE looks clean and open. The first viewing is actually quite surprising on how good this scenery actually is, as it looks and feels very nice. Intergration into the X-Plane default textures is very good, except for a few areas as we will note later, but the overall approach feel is excellent.

 

The King Shaka single large main Terminal is quite impressive, detail is very, very good with excellent quality modeling.

 

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Exterior shapes and window blind/shade detail is really good, glass is not bad either, not the very best but very realistic with nice reflections.

 

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Reflection detail is also very nice in the roofing quality, yes modern materials are easier to reproduce, but realism is not...  but that is not case here as it looks very good and real world.

 

Parking stands A5 to A16 and C3 - C6 all have the SAM (Scenery Animation Manager) active airbridges. A1 to A4 and C1,C2, C3 and C5 are all walkon/off stands.  Zones are Alpha Apron A, Bravo remote Stands B1 to B9 and Charlie Apron C1 to C6.

 

The airbridge design is really well done here, lovely shape and the glass work brings out the best of SAM plugin, that they work as well is a real bonus, and there are VDGS guidance signs on the Terminal at each gate.

 

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Ground clutter is very good and Swissaport/SkyChefs branded, and there are a few South African buses buzzing around as well like at Nairobi. I found the v11.50 version didn't work with the traffic plugin, I have the updated Vulkan plugin version and it fixed about half of the animations, but they crashed into each other and stopped and started, so the traffic is good, but currently not working correctly?

 

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Landside

The other two GMMN and HKJK sceneries were let down by their poor landside detail. Here at FALE is is far better in that aspect and more detailed and that gives it a far more visual realism...

 

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... again the terminal detail and construction webbing is really good and the animated vehicles give it all a bit of activity as well...  The carpark is just a photo on one side but there is high detail on the other, Advertising and signage is very good and detailed, but the landside is not perfect as the arrival area is still a bit ortho-photo flat, but overall it is far better than their earlier African sceneries.

 

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Infrastructure

Overall FALE is a compact airport, so the infrastructure is quite small and separated into two zones. The areas around the Terminal have mostly under cover carparking and a Hotel in the 29º South, which is very good and noticeable from the air as it is set out a distance from the airport.

 

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The Phase 3 section being now built is included in the scenery as finished, this area has two remote parking zones E - Echo E1 to E14 stands and F - Foxtrot F1 to F12 stands and the recreation is very well done, and fills in the former separated empty area between the terminal and cargo sections.

 

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Cargo

The Cargo facility is part of the Dube TradePort's TradeZone Precinct, and has a initial size of 15,000 m2 (160,000 sq ft) and the initial capacity for 150,000 metric tons (165,000 short tons) of cargo per year. Long-term expansion could see the cargo terminal expand to a size of 100,000 m2 (1,100,000 sq ft) and the capacity for 1,000,000 metric tons of cargo per year. Notable is the connection from the cargo receiving terminal to the secondary cargo facility.

 

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This is Apron D or Delta with D1 to D6 Parking bays, Detail is very good and for the long cargo hauler a great destination to aim for.

 

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The Field Control Tower is position directly behind the Cargo apron, the tower is not overly modeled or textured, but it is good in context, aerial detail is also helped by the very good mobile cell installation...

 

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....  tower view is good but set a bit low to the roof of the tower, so there are a few few obstructions in the viewpoint, overall it is fine on both approaches.

 

To the northeast behind the cargo zone is more of the Dube TradePort's TradeZone Precinct. FSDG did a good industrial park area in the GMMN scenery and this is even better...

 

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Highly detailed with excellent business branding like Shreeprop, PranPark, Schenker and the whole area works really fine, it even includes animated trucks revolving around the estate. The same area adjoining the main A Taxiway is the Fire Station by the cargo area and at the other end is the E -Echo apron for General Aviation parking, but it is a bit bland in detail.

 

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Ground Textures

The ground textures are very good, but like most of FSDG's work not that ultra ribbing detail we expect now, but the textures are hare very good with PBR reflective (wet) and burnt-in ambient occlusion and all is done here far better that the GMMN and HKJK surfaces.

 

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Again no 3d grass also adds in to the blandness of THE acres of Lo-Res textures that needed to have been broken up, in one airport that needs 3d grass it is here again at Durban, it is amazing how much difference a simple thing like no grass can make to a scenery?

 

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Lighting

The lighting at FALE is excellent, to really, really good. Approach lighting, runway and yes even in darkest Africa there is taxiway centre guidance lights!

 

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But there is an important note to make. On the final approach to Rwy 24 there is the "Tongaat Toll Booth" noted on the N2 Tollway (arrowed), the red and white lights of the Toll Booth have been known to confuse pilots with the runways PAPI lights and created some confusion on the approach...

 

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...  the Toll Booth is not modeled here, and the so called lights are missing, but that is also taking away a big local effect of the arrival into FALE, how hard can it be not to model that effect? On a brighter note the whole of the section of the N2 Tollway is nicely lit and adds in well to the scenery.

 

Main terminal and apron areas are really good...

 

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Apron lighting is brighter in tone than Nairobi and even better and I liked the HKJK lighting a lot, but it is nice to work down here, however a few areas could do with some secondary fill lighting.

 

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Landside is really, really good (those words again!)

 

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The Terminal lighting as a sort of Heathrow Terminal 5 feel about it, it looks lovely in the right lighting conditions, the night glass textures could be a little bit brighter to be perfect (as a side note I hit the photoshop and increased the main terminal lit a few points higher, I think it is now about right..  below)

 

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but they are still overall very good. The lighting variation is excellent with the Landside in contrast to the Airside, and again it feels just about right.

 

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Dube TradePort's TradeZone area is also very good, with nice street lighting and a few dropdown set lights...

 

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...  the only blight on the copybook is that the signage on the front of the Cargo Terminal and the 29º hotel is unlit, and you really miss both items even though they are quite small?

 

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Taxiway navigation signage are excellent and reflective, this aspect always adds in nicely to the experience when arriving or departing an airport.

 

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Summary

It seems that with every release from FSGD - FlightSim Development Group (distributed by Aerosoft) that their crossover conversion scenery goes up a notch. This is their third scenery for X-Plane in Durban FALE in South Africa and it is their best scenery yet in every department.

 

Africa is has always been a low point for quality X-Plane scenery, but FSDG has been releasing to date three sceneries with Casablanca, then Nairobi and now Durban it at least give you some very interesting and quality destinations within the African continent. Durban is also part of the key airports for domestic services throughout South Africa, serving the "Golden Triangle" between Cape Town International Airport, O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg...  FSDG does have a FlightSim version of FACT in Cape Town, but no Johannesburg, but that is better than nothing if it is released.

 

Instantly I saw a very good scenery here from FSDG, as noted everything has sort of gone up a notch in the excellent modeling, quality of the textures, lighting is really, really good and so is the intergration of the SAM airbridges which are excellent as well, the layout also includes the new stage 3 remote parking stands of Echo and Foxtrot areas and the Cargo, northwestern infrastructure is also very well filled out, there is not a lot to discredit here because it is very good, even the usual FSDG Landside weakness is covered here. There are a few wobbles, in the main terminal lighting textures are too slightly dark, and the missing signage lighting is missing like the important Toll gates and the traffic animations don't work correctly (in "yes I know it is a beta" v11.50) and the visual aspect of no 3d grass, but otherwise FALE is a really good solid scenery.

 

It is rare for a crossover from FlightSim scenery developer to improve on every scenery, mainly because they are just replicating the old to the new, but to understand the dynamics and improve to match the new platform has to be admired, obviously it is not an X-Plane developer, but this is really good X-Plane scenery...   kudos to FSDG....  Recommended!

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Yes! FALE - Durban XP by Aerosoft/FSDG is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :


FSDG - Durban XP

 

Price is US$22.99

 

Features:
  • Extremely realistic rendition of King Shaka International Airport, Durban, South Africa, and surroundings
  • Realistic shadow and light rendition
  • Animated ground traffic
  • Future Foxtrot apron and extended Bravo taxiway already included
  • Includes Dube Tradeport
  • PBR ground and dynamic lighting
  • Optimized for great performance and visual results
  • Animated jetways (SAM plugin required)
  • Compatible with all known add-ons including ortho4XP
  • Manual included

 

WT3:  WorldTraffic GroundRoutes are not provided and a generation is required, and overall the airport generation functions perfectly.

 

Requirements:

X-Plane 11
Windows or Mac (not compatible with Linux)
4Gb VRAM Minimum - 8Gb+ VRAM Recommended
Download-Size Windows: 600 MB
Download-Size Mac: 1.6 GB
Current and Review version: 1.0 (July 31st 2020)
 
Installation
Download scenery file size is with the full installation of three folders is installed in your custom scenery folder with a (Windows Installer) Mac is zip
 
  • FSDG-Durban_XP_1
  • FSDG-Durban_XP_2
  • FSDG-Durban_XP_3

 

Total scenery installation is 1.26Gb

 

SAM Plugin - Scenery Animation Manager - Suite 2.0 is required for this scenery

 

Documents

One extensive manual in English with notes (6 pages) but no charts

 

  • Manual_FSDG-Durban_XP.pdf

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Scenery Review by Stephen Dutton

6th August 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 and tested in v11.50b17 (really good!)

Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini 

Plugins: None

Scenery or Aircraft

- Default Boeing 737-800 by Laminar Research
 

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