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Scenery Review : TFFJ - Saint Barthélemy Airport by Nimbus Simulation Studios

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TFFJ St Barths Header.jpg

 

Scenery Review : TFFJ - Saint Barthélemy Airport by Nimbus Simulation Studios

 

On the far edge of the West Indies chain in the Lesser Antilles is the Leeward Islands. In time the colonial European powers divided up the territories and some became English, some French and some Dutch with the Danish selling out their share to the United States that later became the American Virgin Islands. The past colonial period of the sugar industries are now long gone, most of these wide scattered territories now rely on the rich and so called famous and the influx of tourism to survive.

 

Today Saint Barthélemy is French even though all the names are in Swedish? As the French did a trade deal and the island became Swedish territory but then they sold it back to the French again, but the names still stuck with Gustavia the main town and Gustaf lll the name of the airport. In English it is better known as "St Barts" or "St Barths" in French, but in the aviation world it is "that" runway, the famous one that is included in the top ten "Most Extreme Airport's of the World" and it is listed at number three on every aviators death list.

 

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Part of the same archipelago is Saint Martin or St Maarten and another aviation bluff's dream destination, with yes another "that" airport in the Princess Juliana International Airport and "that" beach were you can both sunbath and watch the bellies of "heavies" fly over you to land on RWY10, sadly the B747 flying days are now over as KLM has rerouted the route from Amsterdam, but you can still get a lot of jollies with most heavy aircraft still doing the daily low flying show. The distance from each island is however a simple hop at just 31.66 km or 17.08 nautical miles. And that is where we will start...

 

First Impressions

You can't get a large aircraft into TFFJ. A STOL is preferred but the majority are 208B Caravans, Britten-Norman BN-2 Islanders, and the favorite in a De-Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter. A Dash 7 is certified, but it is a bit large. My pick is the Carenado C208B Caravan.

 

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Departure is via RWY10 at TNCM and you track directly 130º towards Saint Barthélemy. I selected 6,000ft, but only made 5,000ft to keep the view correct. The punters in the rear wanted to see the whole island from the air and that suited me fine as I have never been here before and I wanted to get my bearings on the airport.

 

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The whole island has custom mesh as part of the package including the tropical water surrounding the inlets, so the islands look very authentic from a distance, to get a closer look I descended to 1,500ft and got a quick side glance at Gustaf lll Airport and from up here it didn't look that hard.

 

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The Saint Barthélemy island is dotted with a lot of colourful custom made buildings including the main township of Gustavia, but the roads tend to stand out a little stronger than they should do, they don't blend in well enough into the landscape to make them look really totally realistic.

 

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So to the choice, the easy over the water approach to RWY28 or the horror over the hill RWY10 with its 150ft drop and 17º slope? Hard choice, but this is my first time here and RWY10 looks and feels a little too hard without some practise runs (it was a wise decision).

 

Butnaru (Nimbus Simulation Studios) supplies approach points and images for all approaches (I found out later!) that are good guides on how to make each approach in Left and Right into RWY28 and a diagram for RWY10 and how to do a all runways in a missed approach.

 

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I was doing the right hand approach and the Eden Rock hotel (arrowed below left) is your guide in and decision point to go or abort the landing. You basically follow tightly the eastern shore line of the Baie de St Jean at around 600ft and on the turn to finals keep your height at 400ft, it is far tighter than it looks...

 

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...    speed is totally crucial, I was just a smidge over the 60knt stall at full flap, and it was still too fast. Note the water...  there is real depth to the shallow water which is an X-Plane feature first and it is highly effective for realism on the approach.

 

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There is a slight 5º bank in the final turn and your aim here is for the two sets of marker buoys giving you a lead straight into the runway, they help if you can get close in to and on to then centre-line them.

 

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The scenery provides a lot of 3d people and animated vehicles and so there is a lot of items to take in. The runway more or less rises up to you more than you lowering the aircraft downwards as the actual airport is still 48ft/15m above the ground. Over the beach and the runway is glaring or daring straight at you.

 

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Pushing the stall point you aim for the end of RWY28, but be careful not to land too early as it is very easy to do, just be a bit more brave and make sure your on the hard stuff. The actual runway is 650m or 2,133ft long so it is quite short, but this approach also gives you the slope upwards to help in the running off the speed, in the opposite direction you really have to judge it more carefully to have the room to stop without going long into the Baie de St Jean!

 

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There are two ramp areas at the top of RWY28, to the right a small parking area and a hangar and to the the left the main terminal area, the aircraft needs a little throttle to get over the rise, but then none as you fall quickly downwards onto the main ramp.

 

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For a first blind attempt I was pretty happy with that landing. There are four in line parking points in front of the main terminal, so you unload and then park or depart...  there is no hogging up the apron at TFFJ.

 

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The approach was harder than it looked from the air, but I am doing this blind for the first time and I think a few trips and I should get it on the money, runway 10 is another whole deal again, but as a first impression it was certainly heart in the mouth impressive. From this point of view the scenery is very good with excellent gradient changes which is very hard to do in X-Plane and make it look realistic, note your "Runways Follow Terrain Contours" checkbox has to be on for it to all work correctly.

 

TFFJ - Saint Barthélemy Airport by Nimbus Simulation Studios

 

Gustaf III Airport
Saint Barthélemy Airport
St. Jean Airport
Aérodrome de St Jean

IATA: SBH - ICAO: TFFJ

 

TFFJ Chart.jpg

 

10/28 650m (2,133ft) Concrete

Elevation AMSL 48ft/15m

 

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TFFJ - Gustaf III Airport is buried in the neck of the island of Saint Barthélemy. As noted the elevation changes are significant here and the scenery works very well in countering the issues with such tough terrain logistics surrounding the airport.

 

TFFJ Terminal 1.jpgTFFJ Terminal 2.jpg

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All buildings including the terminal is really well done and notably there has been a lot of research to get the area within the airport boundary and beyond including the small township of St Jean just right.

 

TFFJ Terminal 5 LG.jpg

 

In these sceneries it is the small stuff that is important, like signage and fencing and lighting. In this case it is about perfect with a full complete fill in of the area. Static aircraft are dotted around the aprons and parking areas, all are very good and with people and baggage and even golf carts which is perfect for these sort of rich playgrounds. The 3d cars are excellent as well, but a few of the animated vehicles are incomplete?

 

Terminal construction is great with concrete and wooden planking structures which all well realised as is the glass. Roofing is a lovely terracotta tile. 3d passengers and internal construction are a Butnaru feature and it works very well here. Four welcome flags outside are a bit of a disappointment, flat and although animated are a bit weak, a wasted opportunity.

 

TFFJ Terminal 6.jpgTFFJ Terminal 7.jpg

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The signage is a little low resolution really closeup, but mostly fine at a small distance. Overall the terminal is first rate.

 

TFFJ Terminal 10.jpg

 

Control Tower and Tower View

The tiny control tower sits atop the main terminal building.

 

TFFJ Tower 4.jpgTFFJ Tower 1.jpg

 

Tower view is very good with both approaches visible, but obviously RWY10's approach is mostly hidden by the elevation constraints or the hill is "In the way". When in the tower view you are positioned in front of the tower (above right) rather than above it, but it works fine.

 

TFFJ Tower 2.jpgTFFJ Tower 3.jpg

 

Other airport environs

Top of the hill at the RWY10 threshold there is parking to the left and a small hangar and general aviation parking to the right, again there is great static aircraft to fill in the parking areas. Note the really nice fencing and shrubbery. Tropical Palms are important and the feel is just right in the placement and fill of all the areas of the island...  did I say Tropical Paradise!

 

TFFJ Terminal 11.jpgTFFJ Terminal 12.jpg

 

Runway northside is very complete as well. There are two verandaed houses and the rocky outcrop behind dominates the scenery.

 

TFFJ Terminal 14.jpgTFFJ Terminal 13.jpg

 

This aspect is important to give the scenery a full view feel and could have been easily looked over so, big bounty points for that for Butnaru.

 

Runway textures are really good and the X-Plane11 reflective shine is there in the right conditions...  Mid-field grass is 3d but a bit thin in that you hardly notice it.

 

TFFJ Ground 1.jpgTFFJ Ground 3.jpg

 

The end approach end of RWY28 is well done with realistic sand, but it is that translucent water that is the really very clever and really eye catching detail, but if you crash into it you don't sink or bob around but sort of skate over the top of the surface like on ice! (Yes I checked!) but it is very well done and a major highlight of the scenery. Note the boat shadows in the water.

 

TFFJ Ground 2.jpgTFFJ Ground 4.jpg

 

St Jean and Gustavia

By the side of the runway is the local cemetery, which is warning in not to end up in it!. St Jean township is the area the airport is located in and the local environs are very well done even if a few of the buildings are just repeated.

 

TFFJ St Jean 3.jpgTFFJ St Jean 1.jpg

 

Eden Rock hotel is the biggest building in St Jean and there is plenty of activity on the beaches besides the cool waters. Football and Tennis Clubs are well represented in the back end of town.

 

TFFJ St Jean 4.jpgTFFJ St Jean 2.jpg

 

Gustavia is positioned on the west coast of the island and is again well reproduced with expensive rich toys in yachts filling in the translucent harbour, note the great radio masts on the top hill of the island, a small but important detail.

 

TFFJ St Jean 5.jpgTFFJ St Jean 6.jpg

 

Coastline rocky features are excellent and great for VFR visual flying, but as noted the roads feel far too large all over the island and dwarf the cars and landscape.

 

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Nightlighting

Gustaf III Airport does not have any night operations, but I was still surprised that there is no runway lighting either?

 

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The terminal area however is nicely lit.

 

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Some nice aspects of lighting adorn the building, with ramp lighting and a lot of spot lighting. GA parking hangar is nicely lit at night if you want to do some overnight repair work, but otherwise the island at night is a sleepy township with everyone tucked up in bed...

 

TFFJ Nightlighting 7.jpgTFFJ Nightlighting 8.jpg

 

Flying conditions

TFFJ does require a lot of conditions to fly into there. VFR rules, rule of course, but to fly into TFFJ you have to be passed by an instructor before being given clearance, so not everyone can just drop in (unlike in X-Plane) there. You can only use RWY10 to takeoff as RWY28 with that slope is voided and as noted night operations don't exist. There is a lot of information out there, but a good guide is this "VFR in the Dutch Caribbean" document.

 

To watch how the pros do it then watch this video, and take notes of the breezy wind conditions at the top of the hill before descending...

 

 

Services

There are a lot of local services but as to be expected no major carriers, this is all small operator inter-island services.

 

  • Air Antilles Express - Pointe-à-Pitre
  • Anguilla Air Services  Charter - Anguilla
  • Coastal AirCharter - Saint Croix
  • FlyMontserratCharter - Montserrat
  • St Barth Commuter - Antigua, Sint Maarten, Saint Martin - Charter: Antigua, Baillif, Barbados, Barbuda, Canouan, Dominica, Dominica-Canefield, Fort-de-France, La Romana, Mustique, Nevis, Pointe-à-Pitre, Providenciales, Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, Saint Croix, Saint-François, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia-George F. L. Charles, Saint Lucia-Hewanorra, Saint Martin, Saint Thomas, Saint Vincent, San Juan, Santo Domingo-Las Américas, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten
  • Tradewind Aviation - Antigua, Saint Thomas, San Juan - Charter: Antigua, San Juan, St. Thomas
  • Winair - Sint Maarten, Saba

 

Cargo

  • DHL Aviation - Anguilla, Antigua, Dominica, Fort-de-France, Grenada, Nevis, Pointe-à-Pitre, Saint Croix, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Saint Thomas, Saint Vincent, San Juan, Sint Maarten, Tortola, Trinidad

 

Summary

We all love small commuter services and inter-island hopping can be one of the really great flying experiences you can have in X-Plane. So with Saint Barthélemy so centered in the West Indies, you really can have a smorgasbord of great flying you that can do around here. And add in the factor of one of the most challenging approaches and departures in the world and you also get cake and eat it here as well.

 

Certainly great scenery can heighten the effect even more and overall this scenery from Nimbus Simulation Studios certainly fills out the visual and challenging aspects of Gustaf III Airport.

 

Negatives, not much but the roads are far too wide and three car wide in some places on an island that would have single lane blacktop at the most, and this aspect is highly (too highly) noticeable from the air. Some signage is a bit low-res and a few animated vehicles are incomplete.

 

Positives are many and the highlight is certainly that highly effective and beautiful 3d translucent water, flying in over it is an experience. Island coastline and rocky features are all excellent and great for around island VFR flying as is the excellent elevation detail in merging the overlays with the X-Plane ground basics. Buildings and certainly the terminal are very well recreated with the tropical paradise feel very evident all around you and ramp and runway textures are excellent, lots of 3d people and activity gives you the feel of landing right in the middle of a busy tourist season rush.

 

Overall excellent well created scenery with the challenging approach and departure aspects should keep the island hopping punter happy for years...  If you have a Caravan or Twin-Otter sitting in your hangar then can you really resist this scenery, no probably not, but check out that lovely water as you sweat your way in!

______________________________________________________________________

 

X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg

 

Yes! the TFFJ - Saint Barthélemy Airport by Nimbus Simulation Studios is Available now from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

 

TFFJ - St Barts

 

Your Price is US$22.95
 
Features:
  • Full representation of St. Barts island and airport
  • Thousands of custom hand placed 3D objects
  • Custom vegetation
  • 3D people and animals
  • 3D sea near runways 10 and 28 (Exclusive feature)
  • GroundTraffic plugin (By Marginal)
  • New techniques used to show great details to the ground textures
  • Normal maps in many objects and ground textures (PBR)
  • Custom mesh
  • Lots of details
  • Compatible with X-Plane 11 and 10

Requirements

X-Plane 11 or X-Plane 10

Windows, Mac or Linux 
2Gb VRAM Minimum - 4Gb+ VRAM Recommended
Download size: 405Mb
 

Installation :   Download scenery file size is 405mb. With

 

Nimbus Simulations TFFJ - St Barts (450.70mb)

Nimbus Simulations -Z- St Barts Mesh (3.82mb)

 

In being inserted into your X-Plane "Custom Scenery" Folder

Note the "Nimbus Simulations -Z- St Barts Mesh " must be listed in the .INI situated UNDER the "TFFJ - St Barts" file to work.

 

"Runways Follow Terrain Contours" checkbox has to be on for it to all work correctly.

 

Documents

Provided document is a full detailed manual and much included with more information and history:

 

  • Approach_Manual - with photo details on how to use the approach details effectively
  • Read Me - Installation details

 

______________________________________________________________________

 

Review by Stephen Dutton

8th September 2017

Copyright©2017: 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 - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - GeForce GTX 980/SSE2 - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.02

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

Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : XPRealistic Pro v1.0.9  effects US$19.95

Scenery or Aircraft

- Cessna Caravan 208B XP11 by Carenado (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$34.95 - Review here: C208B Grand Caravan HD Series XP11 by Carenado

 

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