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LATINVFR – LAS AMERICAS – MDSD v1.1 for FSX review

Las Américas International Airport, MDSD, is the second busiest airport in the Dominican Republic with approximately 3.4 million passengers using the facilities in 2010. Opened in 1959, it was originally the official airport of Santo Domingo. The airport was renamed in 2002 to “Aeropuerto Internacional Las Américas- José Francisco Peña Gómez (AIJFPG)” but is most commonly referred to as “Las Américas International Airport”. The airport has a single runway 17/35 that is 11,002 ft long making it the largest in the country and one of the largest in the Caribbean. The runway is capable of supporting the new Airbus A380.

Installation and Configuration

The size of the file for the FSX version is a very manageable 105 Mbs and is a simple download from SimMarket after purchase.

Installation requires very little user intervention except for adding product registration information and acknowledgement of the terms of license agreement. Upon completion it adds the scenery to the FSX scenery library.

There are no configuration options for this scenery package.

Documentation

The scenery comes with both a manual and a set of charts. The 11 page PDF manual has the usual information such as product features, background info and characteristics of the airport, some general flying tips and an FAQ section. In addition they do provide some interesting information in the way of airlines, their destinations and the terminals they use. This is nice to know if you are the type of simmer that likes to go that extra bit and match the airline to the airport.

With the exception of two obstacle charts, which can be downloaded from the Dominican Republic’s civilian aviation website, a complete set of up to date charts is included.

Scenery

Scenery features (from the manual):

  • MDSD (SDQ) airport with all its buildings done with accurate detail
  • Surroundings extremely detailed
  • More than 150sq Kilometers of photo scenery with thousands of hand placed custom autogen, dozens of custom made buildings and objects in a 30 KM area from east to west.
  • Mesh for the entire area of Santo Domingo.
  • High resolution ground textures for runways, taxiways, apron etc.
  • Revised land classes for surrounding photo scenery.
  • Inclusion of manual in PDF format.
  • Inclusion of charts and maps.
  • Birds (FSX) Dolphins (FSX)
  • Vehicle animations (FS2004) and native (FSX)
  • Excellent night lighting.
  • Dozens of custom apron objects (containers, vehicles, etc).
  • Respective AFCAD for FS2004 and AFX file for FS making it fully AI traffic compatible.
  • DX9 compatible for FSX
  • Inclusion of charts in PDF format.
  • Auto Installer adding automatically to the scenery library in FS

This scenery from LatinVFR is a detailed reproduction of Las Américas International Airport which for many has been the gateway to their dream vacation in the Caribbean.

What the developers have done is very good; they have taken this airport which in my opinion was neglected in FSX and turned it around with this release. Besides recreating the airport LatinVFR have also spruced up the surrounding area by revising the landclass and adding some custom autogen.

FSX default MDSD

LatinVFR MDSD airport

Scenery coverage area

Let’s begin with the airport. The layout is very simple and can be divided into three main areas; the general aviation area, passenger terminal and finally the cargo area. With the exception of the main terminal the buildings are very simple in design and the developers have done a good job in recreating them realistically and in a way that gives the impression that they’ve been around for awhile.

Main terminal

The passenger terminal is the largest and most prominent building on the airport grounds. Being centrally located it is the focal point of Las Américas International Airport.

FSX default MDSD terminal

LatinVFR MDSD terminal

Busy terminal looking towards gates B1 to B4

Jet ways

Overall it is nicely modelled. The new hexagonal Terminal A and multiple jet ways look good. On some of the jet ways there are advertising billboards that are very clear and detailed even at very close range. I found that the windows lacked any real sense of transparency being predominantly a solid black colour. As a note the jet ways did not move nor is there any AES support for this product.

Terminal A

Terminal A jet ways

The most interesting part of the building had to be the roof. The roof has a raised geometric pattern that is distinctive in appearance and deserves mention because I am sure it must have been difficult to get right.

Complicated roof line of main terminal building

On the passenger side there is a roadway leading up to the second floor entrance. They’ve included some animated traffic that can be seen making their way up this roadway.

Passenger view of main terminal building

Information signs for passengers

General aviation and cargo areas

The general aviation and cargo areas are very similar when it comes to the type of structures and apron layout. The buildings in these areas appear to be older and clearly show signs of weathering and ageing, several of them have metal roofs which are quite rusted. Each of these areas also has a small apron for aircraft parking.  The general aviation area is also home to the airport fire station which has several fire trucks parked outside.

General aviation area

Fire-station

Cargo area

Cargo hangar

Common Scenery Elements

There are elements that are common to all areas of the airport; these would be the ground textures and the objects normally associated with airport operations.

Beginning with the ground textures within the airport perimeter. I thought they were for the most part very good; both the hard and grass surfaces.  The hard surfaces; being the runways, taxiways and aprons stood out. The hi res appearance and the dirt and weathering made them look very real. There is surface cracking, spots where it appears as if the painted markings have been worn away and then the aircraft parking spots show what I suspect is dirt and fuel stains.  For the grassy surfaces in and around the runway they’ve added volumetric grass. I feel this adds so much to the sense of realism at ground level. Now instead of the flat green texture you have this appearance of long grass and combined with the excellent hard surface textures used for the taxiways, runways and aprons the effect is outstanding.  This of course is only visible at ground level but it does make a huge difference when taxiing to or from the runway.

Runway textures

Dirt stains at gate

Volumetric grass

Unfortunately the other ground textures they used appeared to be low resolution textures. This was especially apparent when they were next to the nice crisp clear textures used for the aprons and taxiways. The differences were very evident and detracted from the overall quality of this product.

Some contrasting hi-low resolution textures

Another example of blurry textures

The other common element at any airport is the objects you associate with the infrastructure and day to day operations; vehicles of different types, baggage carts, freight, pylons, lighting, etc. They are all here and the quality, variety and placement of these items was very good and looking around I can’t think of any that I thought might be lacking.

VOR/DME

Approach lights

Apron-gate clutter

Pole lighting, perimeter fencing and automobiles

Surrounding area

As I mentioned in the outset of my review the area around the airport has also been spruced up. They’ve added custom landclass, mesh, photo scenery and autogen to an approximate 150 sq km area. Flying overhead the enhancements were clearly visible especially near to the airport and along the coast. Two major roadways; the Parque Jose Francisco Pena Gomez which is the primary road going to the main terminal and the Autopista Las Americanos which runs west/east and is just north of the airport are both now very prominent. Along these roads they’ve added buildings, animated road traffic, detailed signage and billboards. Flying in and out of the airport these were plainly visible but to appreciate the details like the billboards you had to get down at ground level. To the north and to the west the distinct grid patterned roadways were there thanks to the photo scenery. Precisely placed autogen was used to populate these urban areas. Several other local landmarks such as the; Club Nautico Santo Domingo, Villa Panamericano and Caucedo port were also added.

Villa Panamericana

Wharf at the Club Nautico Santo Domingo

Port Caucedo

Petrol station on Parque Jose Francisco Pena Gomez roadway

Billboards

Crossing Autopista Las Americanos on final to runway 17

 

Flying the southern portion of the island in the vicinity of the airport there was definitely lots to see. There were some interesting buildings and also a variety of ships both in port and out at sea. A warning to those flying low and slow, watch out for the many flocks of colourful birds! The manual mentions dolphins, unfortunately I never saw any.

Flocks of birds

Night

Night lighting at Las Américas was very good. The apron areas unlike most other large airports had minimal lighting with the brightest spots being near the main terminal building by the jet ways. Interior lighting for the main terminal was especially good, you had the impression that you were actually seeing into the terminal. The majority of the other buildings were dark but then again I would not have expected to see much in the way of activity in these areas any way. Other aspects of night lighting such as the ground lighting and approach lighting were also very well done.

Main terminal

Terminal entrance

Ground lighting and runway markers

Going west

Final Thoughts

I thought that this was a very nice airport. It had some nice detailed ground textures and good ambiance for an airport of its size. I also liked how they augmented the nearby countryside and coast with the ships and custom autogen. All in all, good value for the price.

My Ratings

Installer: Excellent. Little effort required, adds entry to FSX scenery library.

Documentation: Good manual, charts included.

Modelling: Good, some excellent ground textures.

Extras: Surrounding area modelled.

Download Size: FSX 105MB, FS2004 82MB

Price: EUR 14.99

Link: http://secure.simmarket.com/latinvfr-las-americas-mdsd.phtml

Test System:

Intel i7 950 OC @ 4.2 Ghz, 6 Gb RAM, ASUS 480GTX w/1.5Gb video, Win 7 Ultimate 64, FSX w/acceleration, Ultimate traffic 2, REX Overdrive, UTX, GEXn, AES 2.11

Richard Desjardins

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