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Airport Review : KAUS Austin-Bergstrom International, TX by Airportech

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Airport Review : KAUS Austin-Bergstrom International, TX by Airportech

 

When you consider only a few years ago on how many really good destination scenery choices you had in X-Plane, you could really easily count them all on two hands, certainly in the United States. Scenery was without doubt the weakness in the simulator. But that empty feeling is now starting to dissolve away. What was a few great destinations are now becoming a flood of good places to use not only your continental routes, but also your state to state and regional areas. Texas is one region in particular, once there was really nothing here, but now there is a very good Dallas-Fort Worth KDFW and Houston KHIA and now from a new scenery designer called Airportech is KAUS  Austin-Bergstrom.

 

First Impressions

My route today to Austin, Texas is from KLAX - Los Angeles to KAUS - Austin-Bergstrom and it is around 3 hours (2h 55m) depending on the taxi holds at LAX. Distance is 1078 nautical miles. My equipment is the JARDesign A320neo in Delta colours.

 

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Departure was via RWY25R and the SID was via Ocean (OCN). Overall it was a clean beautiful day, but those high winds (22knts) around Tuscan even at FL355 was making the flight a bit nervy for the passengers, then as soon as the winds had come they suddenly smoothed out to 9knts once we passed over Texas border. I found setting up the A320's FMC was a bit of a struggle, mostly in finding a decent STAR to go into KAUS via runway 35L, I finally created my own arrival via STV (Stonewall), RU (Garrys) and JOREN to BS (Creed) on approach. Airportech do (thankfully) supply a full set of approach (RNAV/ILS), arrival and departure charts with a layout of the airport. But even with them you still have to set up those final approach vectors to the runway.

 

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The area around Austin arriving from the south is quite flat, and the airport blends in very well to the scenery surrounding it. There are two main runways in 17L/35R 9000ft and 17R/35L at 12248ft both are concrete. Your first impression of Austin-Bergstrom is of space, and lots of it. It feels very large, spread out (4,242 acres (1,717 ha) and almost empty with a lot of areas of just ramps. The reason is not that the scenery is not completed or the areas have not been filled. It is because the actual airport is based on an old Airforce Base...   Bergstrom Air Force Base (1942–1993) or earlier Del Valle Army Air Base. Austin's original municipal airport, Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, had become overcrowded and noise complaints increased from residents of the lower-income housing subdivisions built in the flight path. The current commercial Austin-Bergstrom opened to the public on May 23, 1999. It is named after Captain John August Earl Bergstrom, an officer who served for the 19th Bombardment Group.

 

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Runway 17R/35L, to the west of the terminal, is the original runway that was built and used by the Air Force. The 12,248-foot-long (3,733 m) runway was reconditioned when Austin–Bergstrom was built. The 23-inch-deep (580 mm) concrete runway is dedicated to former President Lyndon B. Johnson. Runway 17L/35R is a new 9,000 foot (2,700 m) runway on the east side of the terminal and parallel with runway 17R/35L. This runway is dedicated to former Congressman J. J. "Jake" Pickle. This runway contains a Category IIIB instrument landing system.

The point is they both look very new, of which to a point they are. So landing and taxiing at KAUS it feels very modern (compared to most American Airfields) with not only clean runways but heavily marked approaches and taxiway markings, of which are well presented here.

 

The Airport is located only 5 miles (8 km) southeast of Downtown Austin, and you can see the city just on the horizon. Taxi to the terminal area is a long way even if the terminal is only situated about slightly north mid-field.

 

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The view from the cockpit in taxi, is very good. There is a lot of detail (considering the very size of the airports area), from the ground perspective it was very good. looking over the carparks were full and I liked the fuel storage tanks that looked very realistic.

 

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Into the single (large) terminal area and you had a row of gates to chose from. There are 25 gates, two of which can be used for international arrivals (Mexico, Canada and the UK) in gates 2 & 3. The terminal is under going a new seven gate expansion on the east side of the terminal where the international gates are currently located to add in more international gates... Gates 21 & 24 can also be used as International gates. First thing you notice is the huge amount of animated traffic in trucks buses and baggage carts all going about their business. In fact the whole airport has a lot of animations in traffic, and most of it spills around the terminal and carpark areas.

 

Static aircraft are well spread around, Gate 2 is left open for any international aircraft. You will find if you park a larger aircraft (A330/B777) at the other gates it will stick out quite significantly and stop the animated traffic? Static aircraft are an option and the package can be downloaded from Airportech's site. All gates have airbridge (autogate) animations and they work very well. The gates are well furnished, but the trucks and various ramp items are a little too clean and 3d like. Ramp markings and gate directions are excellent.

 

Airport Overview

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17L/35R  9,000  (2,743m)  Concrete

17R/35L  12,248  (3,733m)  Concrete

H1  60  18  Concrete

H2  60  18  Concrete

H3  50  15  Concrete

Elevation AMSL 542 ft / 165 m

 

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(google)

 

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The scenery does use underlying photo (Ortho) textures, but you have to be close on the ground level to notice that (they get a little buzzy there) otherwise the photo layer is very well inserted into the scenery, there are no sharp boundaries and the colour matching is excellent. A bit of bright colours is created by a parking area with sails as covers down on the north west by the cargo area. But as a layout the airport is excellent from the air and on the ground.

 

Terminal (Barbara Jordan)

The terminal was designed by the Austin firm of Page Southerland Page and has a live music stage on which local bands perform in keeping with the spirit of Austin's proclamation as "The Live Music Capital of the World". 

 

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This is very modern clean terminal design, it looks like it is a semi-circle but in reality it is long straight terminal building. but the detailing is very good and the architectural construction is well reproduced but slightly bland in that modern way.

 

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Gate areas are first rate, and you now note how far we are coming along with X-Plane scenery as now these sort of more complex ramp areas are full and well filled to recreate the right environment and visual keys to make scenery authentic.

 

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Finally scenery developers are filling out carparks! There was nothing worse than flat photos of carpark areas?  I hated that. But now we have full areas of cars and in KAUS's situation in that there is a carpark by taxiway G and to have that correct is again a great viewpoint on arrival. But the significant point is that the views across airports are now substantially more effective because of the realism of parked areas of cars from the ground and even from the air on arrival...  so "viva the revolution!".

 

North and Cargo

The entrance to Austin-Bergstrom Airport is from the north and this is dominated by the Hilton Hotel.

 

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The Hilton hotel has been well reproduced here. It may look like a green field new construction, but actually it is the old airbase Twelfth Air Force Headquarters.

 

Cargo is on the north west side of the airport and is well represented.

 

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The usual freight suspects all run from KAUS including FedEx (Memphis), UPS and DHL (Houston) with FedEx Express local. The Cargo area is well documented and highly usable. I have a personal investment in this area as it one of the destinations of the F1 - Formula One World Racing Championship races noted as the USGP. And the Austin round was a big hole in my flyaway calendar...  not any more.

 

Control Tower and South Terminal

The original AirForce Base control tower was demolished and a new one for the commercial operations at the airport was completed a full year (1998) before the passenger section of the airport was opened and didn't become operational to passenger traffic till January 1999, it is 69.19m high. Design and ground buildings are very good and well represented.

 

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Airfield view is excellent and every point and runways on the airport can be seen and focused on. There a few of the old airbase buildings still left (most were demolished) and those are mostly hangers, and the buildings with the area just below the tower which was the old airport terminal area known as South Terminal Austin.

 

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...  now it is mostly vacant or used as an aircraft parking area (at this point in time it is just empty and noted as a maintenance area). South Terminal Austin was originally approved by the Austin City Council in order to accommodate the arrival of Mexican-based, low-cost airline, VivaAerobus, which launched operations on May 1, 2008. This terminal had three gates without airbridges—passengers walked to the aircraft at parking stands and boarded by stairs. The South Terminal was however closed on June 1, 2009, after VivaAerobus terminated service to the US due to an epidemic of swine flu in Mexico that resulted in high cancellation and no-show rates.

 

General Aviation Area

Situated to the south-east is the general Aviation area (GA). The large aircraft parking ramp has just been refurbished and relaid with fresh (black) surface and newly relined. Plenty of parking and refueling options here and the area is overlooked by a Signature franchise. The building is very well recreated. Hangars throughout the scenery have animations that open and close the doors.

 

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There are many smaller groups of buildings and areas that have been filled in, too many here to be noted individually and they all add up to the correct points of view of the airport.

 

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Most are storage areas, but there is one good parking ramp noted as "Mil" at the approach of Runway 35L.

 

Nightlighting

Observers note Austin-Bergstrom Airport as quite dark except in the terminal/cargo ramp areas, and so it is here.

 

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Lighting around the terminal is bright and modern. There is a lot of spot lighting, but overall the lighting is not overwhelming. The terminal windows are quite dull and Airportech note they are heavily tinted. Runway lighting is fine and so is the taxiway and its signage lighting, but the green guiding lights don't guide you on to the runway itself.

 

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From above in the air at night the airport looks very realistic and realism is what it all about. There is a lot of traffic and major highways surrounding the KAUS airport so have your traffic and roads set high to get the best traffic effect on all approaches.

 

Services

No doubt the national carriers dominate KAUS, with at this point mostly just British Airways being the main non-North American international carrier. Within that national carrier framework you have a lot of choice, but for me it would be a West Coast to East Coast stopover with either Atlanta or Florida as my ongoing destinations or vice versa.

 

Air Canada Express - Toronto–Pearson (begins May 18, 2015)

Alaska Airlines - Seattle/Tacoma

Allegiant Air - Las Vegas, Orlando/Sanford - Seasonal: Cincinnati (begins June 4, 2015)

American Airlines  Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York–JFK

American Eagle  Chicago-O'Hare (begins May 7, 2015)

British Airways  London–Heathrow

Branson Air Express operated by Buzz Airways -  Branson (MO) (begins May 8, 2015)

Delta Air Lines  - Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK - Seasonal: Detroit, Salt Lake City

Delta Connection - Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Salt Lake City - Seasonal: Orlando

Frontier Airlines - Atlanta, Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Las Vegas (begins April 30, 2015)

JetBlue Airways - Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Long Beach, New York–JFK, Orlando

Southwest Airlines - Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Dallas–Love, Denver, El Paso, Fort Lauderdale, Harlingen, Houston–Hobby, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Lubbock, Nashville, Newark, New Orleans, Oakland, Orange County (CA) (begins June 25, 2015), Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego, San Jose (CA), St. Louis (begins June 25, 2015), Tampa, Washington–National - Seasonal: Cancún, Portland (OR) (begins June 22, 2015), San José del Cabo

Texas Sky Airways operated by Corporate Flight Management - Dallas/Fort Worth, Victoria (TX)

United Airlines - Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, San Francisco - Seasonal: Cancún, San José del Cabo, Washington–Dulles

United Express - Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark , Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington–Dulles

US Airways operated by American Airlines  Philadelphia, Phoenix - Seasonal: Charlotte

US Airways Express - Charlotte, Phoenix

Virgin America -  Dallas–Love (begins April 28, 2015), San Francisco

 

Statistics

Currently Southwest Airlines is the airline flying with the most passengers out of ABIA. In 2014, Southwest flew a total of 4,001,663. American Airlines combined with merger partner US Airways flew a total of 2,417,567 passengers and United flew a total of 1,779,561, with Delta, Jetblue, Frontier Airlines and Alaska Airlines also carrying a significant number of passengers in 2013. New carriers in 2014 included British Airways and Texas Sky. A new customs facility was completed in December 2014 to help accommodate the recent growth in international travelers.

 

Busiest domestic routes from AUS (November 2013 – October 2014)

Dallas/Fort Worth, TX  615,000  American

Atlanta, GA  432,000  AirTran, Delta, Southwest

Denver, CO  328,000  Frontier, Southwest, United

Dallas, TX (DAL)  316,000  Southwest

Houston, TX (IAH)  310,000  United

Los Angeles, CA  260,000  American, Delta, Southwest, United

Phoenix, AZ  250,000  Southwest, US Airways

Chicago, IL (ORD)  221,000  American, United

San Francisco,CA (SFO)  213,000  jetBlue, United, Virgin America

10  New York, NY (JFK)  188,000  American, Delta, jetBlue

 

Top Airlines

Southwest Airlines (Including Airtran Airways)  4,001,663

American Airlines  1,928,520

United Airlines  1,779,561

Delta Airlines  1,332,449

Jetblue Airways  587,451

US Airways  489,047

Frontier Airlines  188,216

Alaska Airlines  116,572

Virgin America  111,729

10  British Airways  96,973

 

Summary

For a first time scenery from Airportech, then KAUS - Austin-Bergstrom Airport is a great introduction to producing quality scenery. It is in the area of Tom Curtis and Butnaru's type of scenery, but I would put Austin-Bergstrom Airport just a level above in the way the ortho (photo) is well inserted into the scenery, and that all the outer areas have been well covered and filled out. Any negatives? not much but a little more dark (dirtier) textures on buildings and vehicles would make them more realistic, but I do note that from the ground level the effect of the scenery is very good and realistic.

Animations and the general buzz of the airport is excellent and again you can see the strides X-Plane is making in realistic environments and movement. all the feature like autogates and open hangar doors are in here, so it is highly usable.

 

KAUS - Austin-Bergstrom has the need to be used. So don't just overfly it, but use the airport as a stopover or as regional service to the rest of Texas and Mexico and you will be glad of the business. And again this scenery fills in another significant part of your North American network. Yes this airport is a great investment and a quality scenery, but KAUS's greatest advantage is in its position.

 

 

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KAUS Austin-Bergstrom International, TX by Airportech is now available from the New X-Plane.Org Store here : KAUS - Austin, TX International and is priced at only US$19.95

 

Installation : Download is 59.80mb that is unzipped in to 218.10 into your Custom Scenery folder. the GroundTraffic plugin from Marginal for the airport traffic animations is built into the scenery, but you need X-Plane10 for it to work. Turn off "Runway Follows Terrain Contours" in Rendering Options settings.

 

Documents

There is one airport chart and 11 (RNAV/ILS) Approach Charts, 7 STAR Charts and 12 SID departure charts.

 

Features:

  • Detailed 3D models of all airport buildings
  • Orthophotos for complete immersion
  • High resolution textures
  • Accurate airport layout and ATC routing
  • Animated jetways with docking guidance system
  • Animated ground traffic
  • Animated, opening hangars
  • Full HDR night lighting support

Scenery Developer Site: Airportech

 

Requirements:

X-Plane 10.30+

Windows, Mac or Linux

Review by Stephen Dutton

 

22nd April 2015

 

Copyright©2015: X-Plane Reviews

 

Review System Specifications:

Computer System:     

- 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 iMac 27”

- 9 Gb 1067 Mhz DDR3

- ATI Radeon HD 6970M 2048 mb

- Seagate 256gb SSD 

Software:     

- Mac OS Yosemite 10.10.1

- X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.35 (final)

Addons

- Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle

- Bose - Soundlink Mini

Aircraft

- Airbus A320 Neo by JARDesign (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$59.95

Scenery

- KLAX - Los Angeles International 1.01 by misterX6 (X-Plane.org) Free

 

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Guest Boss

Nice review.  Would also like to see a few darker/dirtier textures on the building textures to look more realistic.

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Nice review.  Would also like to see a few darker/dirtier textures on the building textures to look more realistic.

 

Yes I agree, but this is a very first airport scenery from Airportech and texture skills are a skill in their own right and that takes time and experience to get perfection. SD

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