FSX

Review of TAXI2GATE – LA HABANA, CUBA – MUHA FSX

 

José Martí International Airport, ICAO: MUHA sometimes referred to by its former name Rancho-Boyeros Airport is located about 15 kms southwest of the city of Havana, Cuba. The airport serves as the country’s main national and international gateway for air travelers. The airport has four passenger terminals and a cargo terminal. The only runway 06/24 is 13,123ft long. Although the exact number of passengers using the terminal hasn’t been given it is said to be in the millions annually.

Installation and Configuration

Installation is a very simple and straightforward process, you simply run the executable file and the program does the rest. After the installation is complete a program group titled SimMarket will have been created and within this a sub group, José Martí International Airport for FSX. It is from here you can access the product manual and uninstaller.

Documentation

This addon comes with an extremely brief two page word doc. It consists of some airport history and general information along with a list of scenery highlights and recommended system specs. The second page is basically a screen capture of the product purchase information from their SimMarket page.

No charts are included with the scenery however they are available on the internet if you do a search.

Airport Scenery

Comparing this addon to the airport as it appears in FSX you can see that it provides the sim pilot with an airport that is a vast improvement over the FSX default version.

Coverage area of this scenery addon is limited to the airport.

Buildings

The overall quality of the airport’s buildings was quite good despite a few problems. From a distance the buildings had a realistic look and the main reason for that was their use of hi resolution graphic images. These images showed details that made the buildings interesting and unique plus they had the look of weathering that most importantly conveyed a sense of aging. I also wanted to compare the buildings in this scenery with actual photographs of the airport. There aren’t many available but comparing those that I found with this addon I must say that they did a good job in most instances at capturing their look.

The Domestic Terminal 1 along with the International Terminal 2 were two great examples of how they were able to use the images to make realistic looking buildings. Both of these also included some extra details such as roof overhangs, external structural supports and raised lettering. Many other buildings include 3d details but to a lesser degree.

International Terminal 3 which is also one of the largest and probably the most distinct building at the airport could have benefited from some visual upgrading. The main problem I saw had to do with the colouring. The difference here was that all of the walls looked flat because the colouring lacked shading. As you look at any building you can see differences in how light is reflected or absorbed so there are always variances in the colours. That wasn’t happening here. The end result is you get a building that just doesn’t have a real world look but looks more like a drawing.

The fire station was a building with a problem. I think they made an error with this one, it looks more like a hangar then a fire station. From the sides or rear nothing really looked out of the ordinary however when you look at it from the front the building is open in the front like a large hangar. What should have been the front wall is set back and on the inner rear wall.

I do think that overall the buildings could have benefited by adding more discrete details. Like many developers they seem to be satisfied with leaving the majority of details to the images. That works when you are some distance from a building but as you get closer the fact that you are looking at a flat image becomes very apparent. As you fly in and out this may not seem like a big deal but when you taxi past a building or find yourself parked at a gate it does make a difference and is quite noticeable.

Ground textures

Ground textures were a mixed bag. Hard surface textures used for the taxiways, runways and aprons were very good; they appeared to be high resolution and showed visible signs of aging and years of aircraft traffic. The painted markings were also very well done. It looked like they put a lot of effort into getting this part of the scenery just right. Overall a great job.

The ground textures used for the other parts of the scenery such as those covered in vegetation and some of the less travelled airport roads and aircraft parking areas were a bit too blurry for my liking. The problem was less visible in the grassy areas but it was still there.

I will give these guys credit though for adding the volumetric grasses. When taxiing this does add to the visual realism.

There’s an area that stretches from the large hangar west of the fire station to the control tower where they appear to have used default ground textures instead of the actual airport ground textures. This switch in textures unfortunately is quite noticeable; they simply don’t match what should be there. Looking at aerial photographs there are roads that are quite obviously missing.

Objects and Vehicles

To make an airport look like a place that is full of activity it often comes down to how good the developers are at strategically adding static vehicles and various other objects to the scenery to try and convey that idea. Every airport has some level of activity happening and the developers need to get that point across and in an airport such as this where the aircraft traffic is rather limited this can be difficult. In the parking lots next to the terminals they have added cars and buses although I thought many of the cars and light truck models were not as good as they could have been with many of them looking boxy. The aprons were also populated with a variety of service vehicles, some like the baggage carts, pushback tugs and maintenance stairs were very good while others like the pickup trucks that had the rear mounted mobile stairs were less so.

The airport scenery includes some basic objects such as runway/taxiway lighting and signage. The quality and placement are good, for the runway/taxiway signs they include concrete pads that serve as the base and that adds a little extra something to the quality of these objects.

I did notice however that there were some significant omissions in the object department; PAPI lighting, approach lighting and apron light poles were the three obvious ones. You could see the colours of the PAPI lights on approach but as you went past there were no fixtures. The approach lights for runway 06 were non-existent and finally there were no light poles anywhere to be seen even though at night the aprons were lit up.

 One other fairly obvious problem was the airport perimeter fence, unfortunately it ends abruptly in several locations for no apparent reason.

Animations

Animations are minimal, they’ve included some service vehicles moving around the airport and some vehicle traffic on the nearby roads however the vehicle movements were quite jerky and lacked the smoothness found in many other scenery addons.

Night flying

Nighttime flying at this airport also gets mixed reviews. Like everything there are both good points and some not so good. Starting off with what I liked I’ll begin with ground lighting which is the taxiway and runway lighting. I thought that they were good; the intensity and colours seemed right.

Buildings had both interior and exterior lighting effects. Most were quite good. My only real complaint here was that if you were close to a building there were no light fixtures to show as sources of this lighting. This relates back to the lack of those extra 3d details I mentioned earlier in my review.

The International Terminal 3 suffered from a different problem; it appeared to glow in the dark. The whole exterior of the building was brightly illuminated making it eerily standout in the dark from everything else. A few other buildings suffered from this same effect but to a lesser degree.

Apron lighting consisted for the most part of large white blobs of light, sometimes their placement seemed to make sense and other times not so much. A glaring example of this can be seen at terminal 3; the large circle of light extends unrealistically under the building. It wasn’t just the placement though part of the problem had to do with the fact that there were no obvious sources for this light to be coming from. There are no light poles in this scenery.

The other problem I became aware of as I got more familiar with this scenery had to do with the taxiway signs. None of them were illuminated, I hadn’t noticed this problem till I was taxiing to the runway for a night time departure. I then took the time to check out the other signage and discovered that they all suffered from the same problem.

Final Thoughts

This was my first exposure to an airport created by this group and despite some visual problems especially at night I still enjoyed flying at this airport. If you are interested in the Caribbean region you might want to give this one a try.

My Ratings

Installer: Very good. Simple to use.

Documentation: Minimal.

Modelling: Good.

Extras:  Some animated road and apron traffic.

Download Size: FSX 43MB

Price: EUR 17.99 without VAT

Developer Homepage: http://www.taxi2gate.com

Link: http://secure.simmarket.com/taxi2gate-la-habana-cuba-muha-fsx.phtml

Test System:

Intel i7 960 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, GEXn, UTX, AES 2.20d

Richard Desjardins

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Chris London

Ok looks great I fly into Jos`e mati Int all the time so this is
wonderful.So tell me does ILS 110.50 Freq work properly on approach and landing on runway 6.If it does i`ll buy it no problem.

Very best wishes
Chris