It’s been an interesting week in X-plane. The Orbx wave broke over our little community, and, despite the undertow, it has quieted down a bit since; but wait ’til their next big release. I’ve read their blog posts and seen their forecast, and their justification for release number one, too. Yeah, whatever – Meigs was a strange choice, for whatever reason, so I tend to look at their next release as more consequential. If it’s as JV states, if Orbx is in this Xp thing for the long haul, then the sooner they start releasing their British Columbia files the better. Orbx went from major player to king of the heap when they released those files and for the life of me I don’t get it, but so what? Unlike Simon, I’ve never flown in FsX and never experienced what all the commotion was about, but Simon thought Orbx’s little BC airports were over the top. Me? Give me Vancouver International, please, with an extra helping of jet fuel on the side. I could care less about BC because I spend a lot of time in jets, and this is just my guess here, but a lot of people using Xp these days also use FSX/P3D, so if they really want airports in BC they’ve known where to go for quite a while. People have usually come to Xp for a perceived better flight model; people who prioritized hyper-detailed scenery files tended to gravitate towards FsX, so maybe Orbx is gunning for a new (for them) market. Still, BC is the unshelled nuts. As mentioned, I’ve not flown there but I have sailed my boat from Seattle to Desolation Sound a few times and the scenery up there is gonzo. I’d love to try their files, but time will tell and for me it’s not a priority.
What IS a priority? Well, there are simply too many major airports left undone right now, even in the US and Europe, but also around the world. It would be nice to have a chain of airports encircling the globe, say in almost every country along a path around the world. And, how much of the future of aviation depends on China? And how many payware files for Chinese airports are there? Japan? Vietnam? India? Kenya? Namibia? Even Argentina? Where are the AeroSoft-class files for these countries?
But then, FranceVFR dropped into the X-plane marketplace – unannounced. And while Nantes is not a bad file, and I mentioned the night window textures being a concern, I read a few comments that really tore into them over that issue. Still, I’m looking forward to the next release from these guys…but, then again, I love flying in France so why wouldn’t I? Still, the question remains…where are all the new files coming from? The US and Europe, by and large, because the perception is those airports will sell.
Then Aspen. Yeah, nothing more to say about that, right? Great file, lots of fun, and while for some of us, personally, it was a trip down memory lane, why not Quito, Ecuador?
But yeah, an interesting week. Oh, the image above? Mexico City, man. Let’s take a look at ruifo’s latest Lego-brick wonder – because this is a good one.
MMMX Benito Juarez International, in Mexico City, is the Big Kahuna Down Mexico Way, but unlike ruifo’s other airports in the country, Mexico City is a major player on the world stage, and Mexico is linked to the world by this airport. First, consider the context. Sure, Houston and Dallas and LA are all important links to travelers to and from Mexico, but then again, consider this, from Wikipedia:
This hot and high airport is served by 30 domestic and international passenger airlines and 17 cargo carriers. As the main hub for Mexico’s largest airline Aeroméxico (with Aeroméxico Connect), the airport has become a SkyTeam hub. It is also a hub for Aeromar, Interjet, Volaris, and a focus city for VivaAerobus. On a typical day, more than 100,000 passengers pass through the airport to and from more than 100 destinations on three continents. In 2017, the airport handled 44,732,418 passengers, a 7.2% increase compared to 2016.
Consider that Aeroméxico flies to 34 countries from MMMX, and we’re talking places like France and Spain and Holland and China (and, oh yes, the United States), while Air France, Iberia, KLM, and Lufthansa all fly from here, as well. Then again, so do China Southern and Hainan. And, oh yes, American, Delta, and United fly more than a hundred flights a week to the US. Each. So yeah, think of this as you would any other well-connected capital city – in a country that happens to be sitting on a lot of oil reserves – and now you’ve got a good idea what’s happening at this airport, and why. In short, this airport is kind of a big deal, and it’s curious why there’s never been a good payware file for this one in X-plane.
There’ve been two recent efforts to build a model in X-plane 11. Today, we’ll look at ruifo’s latest, but we’ll note-in-passing that there was a file released by Yego Rivera late last year that is as yet complete. Still, I don’t like saying this as it implies ruifo’s work is somehow inadequate (which it is not) but this is an airport that really needs a serious commercial effort. Lego-brick airports are okay for some projects; this isn’t one of them. Of course, one could say the same thing about many airports in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Curious, as there are excellent long distance and regional RJ opportunities in each region – yet they are almost walled off from the world – in X-plane. Anyway, our thanks to ruifo for helping pierce this veil, and again, I am NOT implying that this effort is somehow inferior. That said, let’s take a look around – and keep in mind…this is a concentrated airport surrounded by dense, almost tightly packed urban congestion.
Below, a terminal diagram, and note that passenger ops are centered on two large terminals on opposite sides of the airport: T1 and T2.
Below, the official aerodrome chart:
Note, the two primaries are BOTH almost 13,000ft long, and the elevation is 7316…not all that different from KASE Aspen, Colorado! Next, look over a detail from the sectional, taking note of the peak elevations of the surrounding mountains (well, volcanos):
You can also make out the cause of one of Mexico City’s defining characteristics, from a pilot’s point of view, anyway. The city is located in a natural bowl, and consider that 21+ million people live in the immediate area – and the result is predictable: there is all the air pollution you can imagine, and then some. Flying into Mexico City back in the 70s and 80s, my eyes would begin burning before we could see the city from the cockpit, and flying a Cat II approach there – while 50 miles away conditions are CAVU – was startling, though not at all unusual. When you observe such astonishing urban density on final, too, well it can be a little unnerving, almost distracting, the first couple of times.
The city is beautiful in some areas, like walking along the Reforma, a busy boulevard lined with palatial mansions set amidst imposing cathedrals, yet only a short walk away you’ll find kids walking barefoot out of houses made of cardboard boxes and tarpaper. Then, in areas located not far from the Reforma district, an area where many embassies and consulates are located, you’d swear you were in the middle of Paris or Rome. It’s this disparity which is so jarring, I think, and while this isn’t unique to Mexico City it’s on vivid display here.
ruifo’s MMMX is a huge, sprawling affair and performance may be an issue if you have a card with 2Gb or less. Above, the JarDesigns A330v3 has über detailed systems and a gorgeous model, but it will challenge a moderately powerful system, say even a 4 to 6Gb system (on the video card). In this image, rendering options are dialed way back to get FPS back to 25. Setting these options to MAX or near Max resulted in FPS falling to the low teens, and lower in some areas, at least with this acf. Others, like the FF763, managed to stay in the low twenties with options near MAX…so keep this in mind and experiment with your chosen aircraft.
And you can see, here in Xp11.11 with objects at MAX, the surrounding urban density. Other images, with Xp tracking real time and weather, tell the tale, too:
Again, as with ruifo’s other recent efforts, this is a Lego-brick airport, and seen in many images today with the JarDesigns Ground Handling package active. The BP truck, below, is from this package, the fueling unit on the right is an animated vehicle from ruifo’s file. This would be a new unit from Laminar’s latest object library, I assume. Very nice, too. Let’s look at the T1 area next:
This is one of those airports where Lego-bricks will work to good effect, as the real airport is constructed of white masonry. The biggest difference, on first inspection? The real facility, especially around the much older T1, is really quite soiled (and this is T1, above), with decades of accumulated deposits of airborne particulate matter visible, coating everything in sight with streaky black smudges. So, consider this semi-accurate – after the buildings have had a good scrubbing! Below, two views of T1, with a closeup of the control tower, one of at least four here.
A suggetion? These roof views need detail. The terminal entryway needs cars and more visible parking lots. (below) T1 ramps include many with Jetways, and more than a few without:
Below, the vantage from a 757 taking off, the first shows the older T1 area, while the second reveals the T2 area on the opposite side of the airport. T1 is a simple, long building, and you can see this arrangement by the row of lighting.
And while T1 is long and low, T2 is a matrix of angles and circles:
And compare this to an image of the real facility. Another key difference to look for? The real ramps are soaked with oil and age, with those in the file are pristine.
Jetways appear weathered in this part of the airport, too. Lighting, as you’ll see, is HDR compliant, and runway markings are excellent:
There are at least four control towers positioned around the airport, and they appear to be modified with block patterned masonry. How tightly packed the airport is into the surrounding cityscape is apparent all the time. Everywhere you look you feel the city just beyond the grounds.
You’ll see this over by the T1 area, too, where you’ll also find these three hilltop radio towers, complete with a pulsing green display visible at night; this is a very interesting detail and quite fun to watch – and a much-appreciated effort to get this into the file, too.
Again, you’ll find all kinds of detail, but even here you’ll see the city just beyond the fences.
Above, at T1 again, and this is yet a different control tower. Note the spindly bridge behind the control tower, too.
Ramps detailed enough for you? Almost? Well check out the hangers between the two terminals. Yup, this guy knows what he’s doing.
One last item that appears troublesome has nothing at all to do with ruifo’s file, and that’s the roads leading into T1: they are a jumbled mess, and that’s happening inside Xp.
One solution? Add AlpilotX’s v4 mesh, which includes OSM data:
This cleans up some of the mess, but other loose ends remain, like this dangling bit of highway – seen just above the 320’s nose:
Still, adding the v4 mesh improves the area around the airport, and it all comes together in the end. This is another really good effort and well worth having to fill out your airports Down Mexico Way, and we recommend it for folks using less complicated aircraft or with more powerful systems. With files like the Rotate MD80, the JarD A333 or the FF752, make sure have the rendering capacity to handle these aircraft.
So, yeah, a Must Have file, a solid 10 – and that’s it for now. Later – A