Review of Flightsim Development Group – Djerba X for FSX

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Just off of the coast of Tunisia is the island of Djerba. At 514 sq kms the island is the largest island of North Africa and goes by the nickname “Djerba the gentle” for its white sand beaches, sunshine and warm Mediterranean waters. The island is a popular destination for tourists from Australia, New Zealand and the Czech Republic. The climate is moderate with an average temperature of 20 degrees celcius.

The main airport on the island is Djerba–Zarzis International Airport, ICAO: DTTJ. Not much information is available about it with the exception of some basics. It is located on the north coast and has a single terminal and runway 09/25 @ 10,565ft. In 2009 just under 2.5 million passengers passed through the airport’s facilities which can handle up to 4 million.

In FSX the default versions of both the airport and island are very barren with little resemblance to their real world counterparts. This scenery addon goes a very long way to changing all of that.

Installation

After the purchase you are given a registration code and a link to download the 231Mb file. The installation process is a simple one; start the installer, add your registration information, confirm the installation path and then allow it to finish. When it is done the scenery will have been added to the FSX scenery library and you will have a program group: SimMarket\FSDG – Djerba for FSX. You are now ready to use the airport and explore the island.

Configuration

There are no configuration options available with this scenery addon.

Documentation

The manual is an 11 page PDF document. It is clearly written with some screenshots; the bulk of the manual is comprised of general information about the airport and island plus some specifics on installation, product removal, support and how to configure your simulator settings for the best results. The manual has information for both the FS9 and FSX versions of the scenery addon.

Unlike most other scenery addons the manual is not included with the scenery file, you have to get it by clicking on the Demo Download link from the product page at SimMarket. I would have preferred to see it included with the product download.

There are no charts included but they were available by doing a search on the internet.

The Scenery

Very few detailed airports exist in FSX for countries in Africa but this new release from “Flightsim Development Group” goes a long way to change that. As you read on you will see just how good of a job I think they’ve done.

Ground textures

The airport grounds appear to be mostly dirt with the exception of some grassy areas next to the terminal building. The hard surfaces used for the runways and aprons are well done with some signs of wear and aircraft traffic. There are some roads that join the different sections of the airport and a large parking area, these are also depicted. Overall the quality is pretty good with some blurring visible at ground level.

Buildings

The buildings and structures at the airport have all been superbly modelled with an eye for realism and this is one area where the scenery really shines. The developers have done a great job at capturing the distinctive look of the local architecture. Several obvious characteristics are the roof top globes on the main terminal building and the incorporation of archways into the walls of many of the buildings. Both of these interesting features are excellently recreated which adds to the local charm.

The terminal has no jet ways but instead has open external staircases with transparent glass railings, they are intricately recreated down to discrete treads on the stairways.

The fuel farm has more examples of their attention to detail. Here you see some external piping and circular staircase details.

These are just a few examples and there are many more that show how their attention to adding those small intricate details has made a huge difference in the overall visual quality.

Another notable characteristic of this airport is the extensive use that is made of concrete walls to separate the different areas.  These walls which are topped with Y posts and barbed wire are an interesting feature and are masterfully included in detail.

Objects and Vehicles

The scenery unfortunately has no animated traffic which is a very noticeable omission. Most airport sceneries have some sort of vehicle traffic but this one has none. They did however include a variety of static vehicles throughout the airport positioning them in such a way as to give us a sense that there is some activity. There are a number of different service vehicles including tugs and buses on the apron that look like they’re waiting for the next flight to arrive or to assist in the departure. They also have other vehicle types such as fuel trucks and small cargo vans placed near the fuel farm and cargo areas. The quality of all of these is excellent with lots of small details. Unfortunately it still falls short of the effect you get with the combination of static and animated traffic.

On the other side of the terminal there are more vehicles, mostly cars and light trucks with a few buses, parked on the road and populating a large parking lot in front of the main passenger arrival area.

Moving on to the objects, the outstanding quality continues here. They include most of the normal objects found at every airport such as taxiway signage, VOR/DME and cargo but they did miss some of the basics like approach and PAPI lighting; the glow of the lights for both are present at night but the actual fixtures are missing during the daytime. I thought that these were pretty significant omissions.

Where they did raise the bar even further was with the addition of a very detailed network of power poles and lines within the confines of the airport, it is impressive at how granular they’ve gotten with some of the details. Besides having the network of poles and the wires strung between them they’ve added insulators and termination blocks; pretty impressive stuff.

The Island

The island has been recreated using a combination of photo scenery, generic ground textures and landclass. The result is that the interior is representative of the island’s landscape showing sparse vegetation and villages scattered throughout the island. I would have preferred to see the entire island covered in photo scenery, this would have given us a much more accurate depiction of the island.

For the coastal areas they use photo scenery and detailed water masks. This combination made for accurate coastlines and realistic looking coastal waters. The island has several prominent peninsulas that are clearly visible and make for some interesting natural features that are worth exploring.

The buildings on the island were mostly standard autogen albeit for this part of the world. There were some custom buildings but I wasn’t able to match them to actual locations. The island is very rich in history so I was hoping to see some of the local sights represented here but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

They did include a small airfield found on the southwest coast of the island which consists of a dirt runway, single hangar and a few vehicles. It can be found in the FSX airport listings under the fictional ICAO code “DTS1”.

Animations

This part of the scenery was a disappointment. Most developers include some form of animated vehicle traffic in their airports, unfortunately this one doesn’t have any. I was disappointed to see that this now common feature was missing. Even though they have a good mix of static vehicles the lack of any animated traffic is very obvious and takes away from the overall appeal of the product.

Night

I was very impressed with all aspects of the night lighting at the airport. It was realistic in appearance both from the point of view on the ground or in the air.

I had mixed feelings with the night lighting for the remainder of the island. At higher altitudes it looks good; there are pockets of light from the towns and roadways but at lower altitudes you start to see that these images don’t match what you are expecting to see.

Approaches

Approaches to both runways were straightforward although ILS is only available for runway 09. Navaids were accurate and worked as expected. The airport is on the coast and with the entire island being relatively flat there were no obstacles to speak of. This should not be a difficult airport even for the novice pilot.

Performance

I ran the scenery with all sliders fully to the right and encountered no real problems with frame rates.

Final Thoughts

The developers have clearly put a lot of time and effort into creating this project and their hard work has resulted in a detailed and interesting airport.

I was a bit disappointed at the lack of any animated vehicle traffic, hopefully they’ll consider adding this feature to future projects.

Despite a few problems this is definitely a winner and I look forward to their next release.

My Ratings

Installer: Very good, simple to use.

Documentation: Good. I would prefer that for future releases the manual be included with the product download. Also the inclusion of charts would be nice.

Modelling: Excellent. Some of the best of any scenery.

Extras: No animations.

Download Size: FSX 231Mb

Price: EUR 16.00 without VAT

Developer Homepage: http://flightsimdevelopmentgroup.com

Link: http://secure.simmarket.com/flightsim-development-group-djerba-x.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, GSX.

Richard Desjardins

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Brian Hinder

Nice review Richard.

I have this on my wishlist (fs9).

Like you I am disappointed there are no animations nor charts. After all this IS an airport right?

Frankly I would prefer these ‘basics’ rather than depicting insulators on power lines which, as a pilot, one would never see let alone care about.

Still and all a promising debut from a new developer