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Scenery Review SBGR- São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport

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Scenery Review SBGR- São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport


Globall Art – SBGR São Paulo / Guarulhos International Airport – X-Plane
Looking back through the stamps in my old passports reveals that the first time I set foot in Brazil was 17th May 1996. If memory serves me correctly, that flight was on a British Airways 747-400 which had departed from Heathrow some twelve hours previously, and which had made a brief stopover in Rio de Janeiro on its two-stop round trip to South America. Since that date some twenty-six years ago, I’ve had the privilege of visiting that amazing country tens of times, flying with many different airlines and on many different airframes, but the one thing that all my visits have in common is that my entry point to Brazil has always been through Guarulhos International Airport.


In those 26 years, I’ve seen plenty of change in the airport, especially in the past ten years as domestic air travel has become more ubiquitous, and as Brazil has welcomed visitors for both the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games - although the latter were admittedly in Rio, a relatively ‘short’ five-hour drive away.


The COVID pandemic has prevented my regular trips for the past few years, so the opportunity to visit again, this time in X-Plane through Globall Art’s ‘SBGR – Guarulhos Airport’ scenery package, was one that I eagerly jumped at.


Figure 1 - A view of Guarulhos Airport’s Northern Side, including the freight terminal, and terminals 2 and 3.


A Brief History
The São Paulo Air Force Base (Base Aérea de São Paulo), some 28km from downtown São Paulo, was built on the land of Cumbica Farm (Fazenda Cumbica) which had been donated to the Ministry of Aeronautics by Eduardo Guinle. The Air Force Base was opened in January 1945, and at the time, it housed the 2nd Air Base Corps which had previously, since its inception in May 1941, been headquartered at Campo de Marte airport only 22km away.

Air transport flourished after the end of the Second World War, and it was in June 1967 that the Brazilian government started looking into renovation of the airport infrastructure in Brazil. As a result of these studies, it was decided that new passenger facilities would be located at the site, although construction of the first terminal wasn’t to start for another 13 years. At that time, Congonhas was São Paulo’s main airport, but its short runways were unable to cater for the long-haul jets serving intercontinental travellers, and passengers to the city had to either change to a domestic flight in Rio de Janeiro, or fly instead to Viracopos airport in Campinas, almost 100km from São Paulo.

Work was started on the new passenger facilities at the airport in August 1980, and they were inaugurated in January 1985. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it wasn’t long before Guarulhos had overtaken Congonhas as the city’s primary airport although the proximity of the latter to the city’s major commercial centres mean that it is still a favourite of domestic business travellers.

In 1989, runway 09L/27R was extended to the east to cater for the larger jets that were being brought into service, and the passenger terminals renovated and enlarged to cater for the growing passenger numbers with terminal 2 coming into service in 1993. It was in 2001 that the need for a third terminal was first mooted, but the political and economic situation in the country delayed the start of construction until 2011. Not a moment too soon as in 2010, the airport served in excess of 30% more than its rated passenger capacity.

To alleviate congestion whilst the new terminal 3 was being built, Infraero, the Brazilian company charged with managing its airports, announced that two former cargo terminals at the west of the airport would be renovated and converted into terminal 4 for temporary domestic passenger use – leaving the original two terminals for international passengers – and they opened fully in June 2013. Despite the intention that they would be a transient facility, their status has now become permanent.

In 2012 operation of the airport was granted for an initial period of twenty years to a consortium of private companies which form the ‘Concessionária to Aeroporto Internacional de Guarulhos S.A.’. One of the first things that they did during the handover was to rebrand the airport ‘GRU Airport’


Figure 2 - Rebranded as 'GRU Airport' from 2012

Terminal 3 was opened in 2014 – just in time for the World Cup – having taken just one year and nine months after ground was first broken to complete. And in 2015 (in a move which confused me at the time and which I’ve only now worked out whilst researching the history for this review) the terminals were renumbered with the temporary terminal 4 becoming terminal 1, and the original terminals 1 and 2 merging to become terminal 2.

Most recently, the São Paulo metro system has been extended to the airport on an elevated section with a bus providing the ‘last mile’ transport to and from the terminals. This is a far cry from the original intention for the airport to sit on a high-speed rail link from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro; a project which was cancelled before it really started. It does however mean that at less than one US dollar, a rail transfer from the airport to the city is probably one of the cheapest in the world!

Guarulhos airport is now the largest airport in Brazil and one of the busiest in Latin America, being second to Mexico City International Airport in terms of passenger numbers, and second to El Dorado International Airport (in Bogotá, Columbia) in terms of freight transport.

That the airport is now operated as a private enterprise has upset the descendants of the original donor of the land, Eduardo Guinle, and they are arguing that this violates the spirit in which the donation was made. They have initiated legal proceedings demanding return of the land, or compensation to the tune of around 1 billion US dollars! The government’s defence rests on their assertion that the land to the south of the airport continues to operate as an Air Force base even though no permanent flying units are based there. Guinle’s descendants lost their original case, and it has now been referred to the Federal Council of Justice (Justiça Federal) on appeal.

This, and no doubt other events, may well shape the development of the airport in the years to come.

The package I downloaded from the X-Plane.org store was a single 777Mb ZIP file which contains a couple of manuals – one in English and the other in Portuguese (not Spanish, which many people believe is spoken in Brazil as it is in the rest of South America), and a couple of folders – one containing the Airport scenery, and the other a bespoke mesh.


Figure 3 - Package Contents


There’s no automatic installer here, so I made a check of the manual to make sure that there are no installation gotchas, and it seemed straight-forward enough in that stand-alone installation requires that just the Airport and Mesh scenery folders are copied to the X-Plane ‘Custom Scenery’ folder; the names of the files will ensure that they’re loaded in the correct order by the simulator.

Whilst not included in the downloaded package the manual offers the opportunity to download a high resolution OrthoPhoto for the whole of the São Paulo urban area extending out to Guarulhos airport. At around 5.2Gb it’s a huge download but given that it’s advertised in the manual I elected to use it whilst reviewing the package. Again, if you just copy this to the ‘Custom Scenery’ folder, the names will ensure that scenery is loaded correctly.

Additionally, the manual recommends the download and installation of MisterX’s ‘Airport Environment HD’ scenery library, and the Auto Gate and SAM plugins to ensure that all animations work correctly. I already had these installed so there was no action required on my part.

If you already own Globall Art’s nearby ‘SBSP – Congonhas’ scenery package and / or Paulo Ricardo’s Mega São Paulo package(s), then installation is still a manual process but much more involved requiring deletion of some the Mega São Paulo folders that contain the airport and mesh definitions, and manual edits to the scenery-packs.ini file to ensure the correct ordering of the scenery layers contained in the different products. Some elements of the installation instructions where you own multiple packages do seem a little ambiguous, so it is worth making sure that you understand fully what you’re going to do before you forge ahead.

The system requirements for the package are stated simply as X-Plane 11, and 4Gb of VRAM as a minimum, although 8Gb or more is preferred. A system whose components meet the recommended requirements was used to capture the images contained in this review.


Figure 4 - SBGR - Guarulhos International Airport seen from the North-West

Package Features
Globall Art’s ‘SBGR – Guarulhos Airport’ scenery package boasts a long list of features, claiming to accurately represent the airport as it existed in 2022, this being supported by customised textures, HDR lighting, static objects, vehicles and aircraft, and rendered interiors for some of the terminals.

Additionally, the package claims compatibility with multiple third-party plugins, including custom jetways controlled by both SAM and Marginal’s Auto Gate plugins and their accompanying VDGS (visual docking guidance system) installations, taxi routes for World Traffic 3, and vehicle traffic controlled by Marginal’s Ground Traffic. And of course, the Mega São Paulo scenery package.

The manual contains links to SAM and Auto Gate which are both free plugins – whether you choose to install them is up to you, but they were installed and enabled when this review was written. To avoid incompatibilities between the two plugins, the jetway serviced gates at the airport work with only one of the two systems – so if you have a preference, then you’ll need to make sure that you park at a suitably equipped gate.

A look around the Airport
So… with all the… ‘administration’ out of the way, it’s time to look around the airport.

Initial impressions? Well… from the terminal side, I’m reasonably familiar with what are now terminals 2 and 3 and can honestly say that had you dropped me in this scenery package outside at either the departures drop-off or arrivals-pick-up areas of either of them it wouldn’t have taken me long to work out where I was, not least of which because the signs are replicas of those that you’ll find at the real airport, but also because of the modelling of the terminal buildings. And that bodes well!


Figure 5 - Departures Drop-off at Terminal 2 – the quietest I’ve ever seen it!

Time to start exploring, and rather than the logical clockwise roam around the airport that I usually take, I thought I’d mix it up a little, and follow the chronological development of the airport.

On the south-west side of the field, the full extent of the Air Force base has been modelled, and with it extending to the limits of the forest in the screenshot it’s a lot bigger than I thought it was!


Figure 6 - The São Paulo Air Force Base (Base Aérea de São Paulo)

Custom objects representing the various building across the base have been developed and placed which adds to the feel of the airport as you approach it from the air. The only disappointment here, and it is a minor one, is that the X-Plane roads don’t follow their true paths, and consequently some of the buildings and trees encroach on them but you’re going to be too busy getting your landing or take off right to be able to notice! As you get closer to the runways in those spaces that you may find yourself taxiing, the attention to detail improves significantly with the buildings of the main military apron sporting the typical “welcome” and the official blazon of the 4th Air Transport Squadron that was based there, and a couple of static military aircraft stationed out front.


Figure 7 - The São Paulo Air Force Base (Base Aérea de São Paulo) Main Apron

Moving back across the airfield now to what was terminal 1, parking my trusty Zibo 737-800 sporting a rather splendid – and appropriate – ‘Gol’ livery on stand 212R. Just looking around the apron markings and stains on the tarmac shows how much work has gone into making it look ‘real’. It would have been easy to replicate the same marking pattern at all the gates, and whilst there does appear to be a finite set of patterns, there are enough of them to make this very difficult to spot – unless you’re looking for it of course.



And, for comparison, the same shot in the dead of night.



Gate 212 is one of those that’s compatible with the SAM plugin, so why not give that a go? The VGDS does provide all the cues necessary for accurate parking of the aircraft allowing the jetway to extend to the front left door. But look at the rest of the view. You can see through the glass into the terminal (more of that later), but the modelling of the airport building and its furniture together with the equipment and other objects that you can see on the small part of the apron that’s visible below give the impression of a busy airport.


Figure 8 - Arriving at Gate 212R

I’m a sucker for looking around inside a terminal building to see if it’s modelled and in this package the developers have claimed that this is the case. It certainly is – at least in the part of the terminal that sits at the end of the pier. The windows here are clear and from the cockpit of your aircraft parked at the gate, it is possible to see inside the building.

Standing on the inside, remembering that most of us would never bother standing in the terminal building of a simulated airport, it’s a passable facsimile with rows of seats modelled, gates marked and high-resolution images of representative restaurant and store fronts. I would have liked to have seen the interior modelling extend back along the pier to the terminal building, however the windows on that part of the structure are bitmaps that look a lot better at night than they do in the daytime.


Figure 9 - Inside terminal 2

Compared to the other terminals, the converted cargo facility that now operates as the domestic terminal 1 is quite bland – as it is in the real-world. There are no jetways here but there appears to have been no scrimping on the quality of the model. The different departure doors are uniquely labelled with their gate number, the arrivals entrance equally well marked and walkways between the terminal the aircraft parking spots look as if they’re freshly painted onto the tarmac.


Figure 10 - The converted cargo building that now operates as terminal 1

The opening of terminal 3 in 2014 added 12 million passengers a year to the capacity of the airport. Looking at the size of it, it’s not difficult to understand how. The unusual design that was finally chosen wasn’t that originally proposed by Infraero, but one which the 2012 consortium selected at late notice. Unusually for Guarulhos, in that previously the car parks serving the other terminals are large open air car parks at ground level (not ideal in the scorching Brazilian sun), a multi-storey car park accessible through covered walkways was built alongside the terminal. All of this is of course faithfully reproduced in the scenery package.


Figure 11 – The distinctive terminal 3, and its car park, from the landside.

Changing our vantage point from landside to airside, the huge amount of real estate given over to serving the large jets that ply the long distant routes to São Paulo can be seen, and the terminal can manage up to ten such aircraft at the pier, and 7 more with remote boarding. From this viewpoint, you can also see the variety of surface types and markings (including those that have been painted over as the taxi and parking configuration has evolved) that have been employed to build as realistic an experience as possible for pilots visiting the airport.

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t taken a walk around inside terminal 3 as well, and from a passenger perspective its recognisable. The full length of the pier is modelled this time though, providing a view into the terminal from all the gates, and there’s a wider variety of shop fronts, restaurants and advertising boards throughout.


Figure 12 – Terminal 3 with its adjacent aprons seen from the airside

When you’re close to the main terminal building, it’s even possible to see the baggage handling facilities underneath it. This degree of detail shows the lengths to which the developers have gone to produce an airport that looks authentic in every respect, even if it doesn’t materially add to the ‘flight’ experience.


Figure 13 - Terminal 3's baggage handling area

The elevated rail link to São Paulo, complete with trains that look just like those you’ll see on the São Paulo Metrô, is modelled too. Because the airport is the last stop on the line, the track really does just stop in space like it does in the screenshot, providing just enough room beyond the station for trains to change to the opposite track for the return journey, although the trains in the simulator just change direction!



Figure 14 - Aeroporto Guarulhos station on the Jade line of São Paulo's Metrô system

Whilst that concludes the trip around those parts of the airport that feature in the history outlined at the start of the review, there are plenty of other things to enjoy in this scenery package. 

The detail doesn’t drop away when you look at the rather distinctive airport fire station, opened in 2015, to the south of the airfield. The letters that make up the sign on the front of the building are full 3D models and they cast shadows on the façade of the building – although having taken another look around the whole airport, that’s the case throughout. The garage contains fire trucks of a type that is deployed at the airport, and which sport the logo of Infraero. It’s not evident from the screenshot, but I can report that the level of detail on the model means that you can also see the gym equipment in the window of the block that’s behind the garage.


Figure 15 - The Airport Fire Station

Immediately next to terminal 1, Guarulhos’ cargo facilities are vast at almost 100,000 m2, and they’re capable of handling all manner of goods including refrigerated and hazardous shipments. The various warehouses at the airport are all present in the scenery – modelled of course to the same high standard as the adjacent former cargo warehouse.


Figure 16 - The cargo terminal at Guarulhos

To the west of terminal 3 is the maintenance facility at Guarulhos which was constructed in 2017 at a combined cost of 230m US dollars. The American Airlines facility can house two wide-bodied jets of the types that they use on their routes to São Paulo (typically 777 and 787), and the LATAM facility behind it one. Both are recreated in the scenery package in the level of detail present that I’m starting to become accustomed to.


Figure 17 - The American Airlines and LATAM maintenance hangars at Guarulhos

Moving slightly off the airfield now, and onto the approach road connecting the airport to Rodoviária Presidente Dutra – the main road that runs between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro – a hotel that I’ve always wanted to visit but have never found the time always being either on my way to or from the airport terminals.


Figure 18 - The Pullman Hotel on the road approach to the airport

And finally, as another testament to the pride that the developers have put into this package, the default tower view has more detail than I’ve ever seen in a tower before – even if their screens do show them controlling a different airport!


Figure 19 - The Default Tower View

In conclusion…
I’ve seen quite a few different aircraft scenery packages from several different developers over the years, and I have to say that Globall Art’s SBGR – Guarulhos Airport ranks up there amongst the best. The hard work that has gone into making the aircraft movement areas look realistic and the terminals true-to-life replicas of their real-world counterparts is evident, but what stands out for me is that it’s a blend of instantly recognisable detail in all the right places which extends beyond the immediate limits of the core airport buildings and infrastructure. This ensures that it’s not an oasis of accuracy surrounded by a desert of out of the box land-class and autogen scenery and this works wonders in enhancing the illusion of reality that we, as simulator pilots, all seek.

If Guarulhos Airport is one that’s of particular interest to you, as it is to me, then I’d recommend Globall Arts’ representation wholeheartedly. If you’re a collector of good airports, and São Paulo falls within the criteria that you use to select what goes on your list of desired acquisitions, then make sure there’s a spot on that list for this package; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. If you’re just looking for a reason to start flying somewhere you haven’t explored so far, then South America, Brazil and SBGR – Guarulhos International Airport is, in my view at least, a great place to start.

I’ve tried to cover off everything but there’ll inevitably have been something I’ve missed in the tour that I’ve taken you on. Ultimately, only you will know whether it’s right for you though! For me, it’s staying installed on my system, and I’ll be flying in and out of there until I can get back to Brazil for real.





SBGR- São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport by Globall Art is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:


SBGR- São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport

Price at time of writing US$24.95



  • Accurate replica São Paulo International Airport, Guarulhos, updated 2022.
  • Precise modeling, based on original references, plans and other studies.
  • Fully customized pavement, with ambient occlusion included in textures.
  • Custom Jetways compatible with SAM plugins.
  • Auto Gate Marginal Compatible Custom Jetways.
  • Standard VGDS system.
  • Controlled by Dataref Marginal Plugins.
  • Controlled by Dataref SAM Plugins
  • Static objects, vehicles and aircraft are present in the scene.
  • Avenues and streets with custom and standard vehicle traffic.
  • Controlled by the Marginal Ground Traffic Plugin
  • HDR lighting with custom night textures.
  • Custom textures with ambient occlusion.
  • X-Plane standard animated traffic service.
  • Standard Approach Light Systems (ALS). 
  • Included taxi routes for aircraft, “taxi route".
  • Compatible taxi routes configured for World Traffic (WT3) and other plugins.
  • Ramp Start set for airlines.
  • Terminal 2 and 3 with rendered interior.
  • Compatible with Mega São Paulo – Paulo Ricardo.
  • Compatible with SBSP Congonhas Globall Art.

X-Plane 11
Windows. Mac or Linux
4 GB VRAM Minimum. 8 GB+  VRAM Recommended
Download Size: 830 MB
Current version: 1.1 (May 13th 2022)


Review System Specifications:

Windows 11

Intel i7-9700KK


Nvidia RTX 2080 Super


Scenery Review by Andrew Parish
9th May 2022
Copyright©2022: 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.



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Interesting review. I bought this and consider it OK (as is the case generally with GlobalArt) but not exceptional. What I don’t like is the need to download MisterXs Library. I know its a common library for Xplane users but its a slippery slope having freeware libraries as part of a payware package. As for different gates for different plugins that is nonsense. So now I need to check the documentation when planning gate arrivals or departures? I am sure to forget that need one day.

i guess I’ve been to the airport maybe twenty times in my life and the package is a fair representation without being particularly memorable. Frame rates for me have been good (using aircraft like the Toliss A321). A good choice of subject as South America is not well represented in payware. Outside of Brazil there have been a couple of Santiago efforts and a Bogota but not much else.


incidentally Traffic Global filled out the gates nicely.

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