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  1. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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... ... 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. 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. 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. 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! 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. 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. 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 10/28 650m (2,133ft) Concrete Elevation AMSL 48ft/15m 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. 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. 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. The signage is a little low resolution really closeup, but mostly fine at a small distance. Overall the terminal is first rate. Control Tower and Tower View The tiny control tower sits atop the main terminal building. 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. 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! Runway northside is very complete as well. There are two verandaed houses and the rocky outcrop behind dominates the scenery. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Nightlighting Gustaf III Airport does not have any night operations, but I was still surprised that there is no runway lighting either? The terminal area however is nicely lit. 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... 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! ______________________________________________________________________ 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
  2. Scenery Update Preview : KORD Chicago O'Hara Intl (version 1.0.2) by Nimbus Simulation Studios Nimbus Simulation Studios have released a heavily revised version in version 1.0.2 of their KORD Chicago O'Hara Intl Airport. "Nimbus Simulation Studios" and "revised"? Yes this KORD is "Butnaru's" actual original 2013 scenery but with now a new name and a new look. This more than an upgrade, as the basic original KORD (Terminals and inner infrastructure) was already very good, but the airport textures in runways and taxiways and the empty outer boundaries were average but fine for that period. Today the expectations on scenery for X-Plane are high, as users demand detail and (lots of) features for their money, the days of just developing an airport with just good 3-D objects are long gone. So it is refreshing to see Butnaru in revisiting his older work and bringing them up to the standard we expect. All his past work was excellent, but still many in certain need of a refresh like we have here with KORD v1.0.2. The original excellent internal terminal areas have been retained and ground support equipment detailing has been enhanced. Walking people are a Butnaru's speciality and they are everywhere (even walking around inside the terminals!) and a lot of that open flat photographic USGS (Images) underlay has thankfully been filled in and notably in the carpark areas. The photo underlay still blandly pokes out here and there, but overall the scenery visually is a huge step forward. Overall this KORD scenery does look and feels fuller, more complete and the extended details now compliment the earlier good terminal work. Ground animations are everywhere now also, giving you a buzzier feel on the ground, and no doubt this airport is calling out for WorldTraffic... traffic. Runway and taxiway texture and detailing look far better and more realistic than the originals, they maybe are the same? but the detailing looks too new to be so. The scenery is now also all HD (High-Definition) and the quality shows in all areas, maybe that is the difference. Highly realistic now, Textures feel and look great from the ground and also is the view from the cockpit. Butnaru was the first to incorporate a 3-D aircraft bridge taxiway link on taxiway's A and B by RWY32R's start point within the original KORD (Runway Contours... off) and it worked well back then. it looks now even better intergrated here, but the very empty and notable not even textured roads with no vehicle animation under the bridge taxiway link renders the positive changes back into a negative. From above you can see the more completion of the whole scenery and the differences in the (awful) quality of the original textures. New 2015 Old 2013 The poor photo 2013 colouring was one of the reasons why I didn't use KORD very much over the years, I didn't much like it then, and I can still see why now. Airports have to have to at least reach a certain level of at least being realistic, I am not in a moment saying or asking for complete perfection, but poor resolution and colouring that is easily rendered (Photoshop anyone) of which I have had to redo myself lately is not worthy of payware product. Thankfully the new KORD is excellent and everything benefits from the better resolution and correct colour changes to the scenery. Like noted the runway and taxiway areas have hugely benefited from the changes. The green belts around the runways are a little too green compared to the surrounding X-Plane default landscape, but in reality KORD does standout from the its background in the real world as well. Overall the base textures are a huge improvement. You get a really special feature with the new KORD, and take note here other scenery designers... Winter Textures Chicago is not really known for its lazy balmy summers and hot tropical nights, more of a white stranded, frozen, grounded, infuriating and snowbound scenario is usually the case with any news reports. Last years release of default X-Plane winter_package by xflyer totally changed all that. You can use "Simple Seasons" to change the textures over but it is a bit of a messy business, but I found that JSGME or Generic Mod Enabler (It works fine under WINE for MAC users) is a perfect solution. (newly built in X-Plane scripts in 10.40 should hopefully fix this problem in the future) You get a full set of winter textures with this KORD v2 for both Summer and Winter periods... The winter KORD textures are a bit whiter than the default textures, but overall they work extremely well, the great thing that Butnaru has done is fill in the small details like the edges of the taxiways and runways, buildings and aircraft all have snow on their upper layers. So it is extremely highly realistic, as shown when I did a landing at KORD in the AA (Rotate) MD-88. Pull the weather in close around you and then get the lowest visibility distance that you can dare and go for it. It is set a little brighter (clearer) here so you can actually see something, but "hey" this is great winter flying as the KORD airport textures really work for you... this is a real Chicago arrival. They are not easily changed over; as there is quite a lot of files to resite. My solution was to create two separate KORD's for both Summer and Winter... Just take one scenery out and replace it with another, and swap the MOD's over and you have an instant winter. I personally love winter textures as they give you a whole new dimension to online flying. Night Lighting Lighting is good, but not highly detailed. Butnaru is a broadstroke sort of scenery developer more than a intimate detailed artist. So everything is there that you need and use, but not in a very highly detailed way. There is a nice variation in lighting colour, but not any really high detailing like rows of lights in a carpark for example. Working down on the ramps it is not bad at all as it is all well lit. Terminal buildings have great depth as the internal areas at night are well created with a lot of internal detail. Documents You get full sets of SID and STAR (DP) charts and "TAKEOFF MINIMUMS AND (OBSTACLE) DEPARTURE PROCEDURES" information... But no Airport ground diagrams or gate position charts? Overall this is certainly a great update to a scenery that begged for a good upgrade. KORD Chicago O'Hare is one of the most used in online flying in America and so X-Plane users deserved a good scenery to use. And yes as Butnaru's newly named "Nimbus Simulation Studios" has certainly delivered here and the stand out feature are those excellent winter textures that makes this scenery... oh so Chicago. __________________________________________________ Yes! the updated KORD Chicago O'Hara Intl (version 1.0.2) by Nimbus Simulation Studios is NOW available from the new X-Plane.Org Store here : KORD - Chicago O'Hare International Airport -HD Price is US$24.95 NOTE: Owners of the previous KORD Airport by Butnaru are entitled to a $10 upgrade price - $15 - and should contact sales@x-plane.org to get their coupon code Features KORD v1.0.2: High Definition Airport High resolution ground textures Terminals with 3D interiors HDR lights Numerous custom objects with high-res textures Night lighting Seasonal Textures Both Summer and Winter textures are included Animated Airports GroundTraffic (plugin by Marginal) Autogates Complete Airport 9 runways Cargo area Terminals 1, 2, 3 and 5 fully modeled with all concourses South and North Tower More than 100 gates modeled _____________________________________________________________________________________ Requirements X-Plane 10.30+ (any edition) Windows, Mac or Linux 1Gb+ VRAM Video Card - 2Gb VRAM Video Card Recommended Note: Make sure you have v1.0.2 on download _____________________________________________________________________________________ Preview by Stephen Dutton 21st December 2015 Copyright©2015: X-PlaneReviews (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)
  3. News! - KPHX Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl Airport now available at the X-Plane.OrgStore KPHX is detailed airport for X-Plane by Nimbus Simulation Studios (formerly called Butnaru) and can now be purchased at the X-Plane.OrgStore for US$16.95 here : http://store.x-plane.org/KPHX-Phoenix-Sky-Harbor-International_p_399.html Accurate rendition of KPHX100+ gatesDetailed terminal and jetways.Static aircraftHigh Definition TexturesCustom HD ground texturesOrthophotoslight effects with HDR on and offAnimated Airport Moving vehicles and peopleUsing Jonathan Harris's Ground Traffic plugin
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