FlyTampa Dubai
A review by Fred Ďmulletmaní Clark

January 2008

Massively popular airport in the ignored Middle East

 

Well itís been some time now since I sat down and let my fingers dance over my keyboard. So itís about time I let them play once again. And in the same way that I am returning to writing, for this review I would like to return your attention the FlyTampaís Dubai.

Itís not a new airport release, infact it came out late 2005! By now, most simmers already have it installed. But this review is for those of you who donít yet have it. Of which Iím sure there are quite a few.

But before I even begin to get into the finer points of this airport, I have to congratulate the FlyTampa team, purely for doing an airport that is not in either Europe or North America. So many developers are taking on these two areas, and leaving the rest of the world unexplored. Admittedly, there is far more demand for the worlds better known airports, but being a heavy pilot, it leaves the question Ďwhere to flyí with unimaginative answers.
 

Looking down on the airport shows the lack of photographic ground textures, but also the fact that they are not needed.


Installation was easy enough, although I did find that I had to activate the scenery in FS2004 myself. A start menu shortcut was also placed on my computer, which gave links to the FlyTampa website, the Dubai manual, and a very handy link to the updates page.

You can see where FlyTampa have done their testing, as there are no service packs available, and none are needed! Although an optional patch is available to turn off the green taxi lights around the airport during the day.

The first thing you notice about the airport is its sheer size. Dubai has two runways, both 13000ft long. And the real airport isnít finished yet. By 2017, it plans to be the 4th biggest airport in the world (by size, not traffic) and able to accommodate up to 70 million people a year. And although that is quite a way off, and FlyTampaís scenery are based on what the airport was supposed to be looking like in 2006, the airport still handled 28 million in 2006, showing that although simmers may be yet to explore the United Arab Emirates, and its surrounding countries, the real world is flying in on a very regular basis.
 

The second thing you notice is the FlyTampa quality. If you have never owned a FlyTampa airport before, you will be out on the web buying all of their sceneries before the day is out. The quality, not just in terms of how the scenery looks, but as a complete package is just amazing. There are no bugs. Or rather, certainly not ones noticed by me. That does exclude the differences between the current state of the real world airport and this representation, but as I have already stated, this scenery is based on the airport captured at a single moment in time. So if you really want to close 12R/30L you will just have to edit the AFCAD yourself.

 

Long term fans of FlyTampa may be miffed as to the lack of photographic ground textures, indeed initially I was. But after a (very) short amount of time you realise that they are not needed. For a start, the quality of the texturing that the FT team have done is, as usual, photographic in its own right. And retains their usual style of producing some of the finest texturing I have seen from any software company in any game or simulation. But the main reason photographic ground textures are not needed are where the airport sits. Itís on the edge of a desert. Putting a photo down would create too much of a border around the airport boundary. This way, it looks as if the airport is another landmark on the horizon as you approach, and blends beautifully
 

Speaking of the horizon, the FlyTampa scenery adds a number of Dubaiís skyscrapers and major landmarks to the coastline, not to mention a land class depicting the nearby golf course (which looks surreal, a big patch of grassland in the middle of a desert). So if you can find a slot in the departures of the big airliners that so often leave Dubai and takeoff in a single engine prop powered aircraft, or indeed recreate a flight as the pilot of an oil baronís private chopper you will find your trip to be exceedingly rewarding, offering few, but excellent sights to see.

Dubaiís tower. Not the tallest and certainly not an eyesore!

 

FlyTampa have included the option for static aircraft to be installed into the scenery. If you donít have any AI or you donít run it at the maximum settings, it is best to turn them on as it helps fill the immense size of the airport and make it look a little busier. There are two things I have to say against the staticís though. The First is the method of installation. To add them to the scenery initially is easy, you just select the option during installation, however if you want to remove the staticís, you have to reinstall the scenery. Admittedly you donít have to uninstall then reinstall, just reinstall to its current folder, however it is still a method that could have been made easier; with a start menu selection box or giving the user the necessary file names.

The second is the fact that they are, as usual, blocky and square. Although I know this is done to maximise frame rates, surely a little expense can be spared when you spend that much time making the scenery look the way it does. If they do slow the scenery down when high resolution, then include the option to use the original blocky ones, or use the option thatís included anyway, to turn them off altogether.

On saying that, FlyTampa have obviously spent a lot of time balancing frame rates. How they do it, only the developers themselves will know, but for the end user it is a dream come true. Despite the size of the airport, despite the resolution of the runway and taxiway details and despite the detail both inside and outside the buildings, the frame rates remain an afterthought in your flying. Perhaps this has something to do with the airports location, with not much else surrounding it, as opposed to somewhere like Gatwick, where you have an immense amount of autogen coupled with the busy traffic form other nearby airports. I doubt it is, as FlyTampas other fields also show incredibly good frame rates when more detailed than Dubai.
 

A view across the terminal towards the Dubai coast.

The massive terminals are as much of a work of art as the ones. Both the inside and outside are modelled, so you can literally walk through the airport to your aircraft. There would however be a more realistic feel to the departure lounges if a few more people were portrayed, as it does seem a little quiet inside. However the sheer fact that the inside is there in the first place, available for your viewing pleasure adds enough. I just cannot imagine having those huge terminal windows be filled with a flat image, or worse, not filled at all.

The freight terminals an business aircraft side of the airport are also modelled albeit in slightly less detail then the main ones, but as I, along with most FS users, vary rarely need the freight and private terminals in comparison to the time I spend flying Joe Bloggs around, this is far from an issue. The only thing I would say is that the freight terminal, despite carrying 751,500 tonnes of real freight in the first half of 2006, is very quiet. A little animation, in the form of freight lorries and loading vehicles would not have gone amiss. The same goes for the passenger side of the airport, there is a little animation, but there could have been a whole lot more.

The far side of the airport, over where the business jets sit is also very quiet. Although the static aircraft option does add some very nice jets, parking over there after a busy 7 hour flight will seem a bit of an anti climax.
One very nice touch is the inclusion of mounds of sand between the runways. Considering the flatness of the landscape this helps immensely in giving the airport a third dimension, and also bridging the massive gap between the 2 sides of the field.

Although I love this scenery, Iím not going to conclude by calling this airport a must have. Its not. And I say this because if you only fly 737ís, Cessnaís or fast jets then you will probably never visit. However, if you have a single airliner capable of doing a long haul flight, I urge you to buy this scenery now. Especially if one of your aircraft comes in Emirates colours. This airport provides such an unusual location to fly to, outside the airspace of Europe, and if you spend a lot of time thinking where to go next, this will answer your question for a long, long time.


 

Mulletman's FlyTampa Dubai Photo Gallery - Click on thumbnail for full size picture
An overview of the airport, showing the skyscrapers FlyTampa modelled in the background. No, not the poor static modelling, these are the fire training aircraft, why Dubai needs two, we shall never know. Lovely gate detail, not so lovely static detail.

A view across the terminal towards the Dubai coast

The inside of the terminal. Fancy some duty free? Notice the aircraft visible on the apron. The docking system, which works, but the square sits between aircraft, so its not 100% accurate. The cargo centre. Less detail than the main terminal, but still some lovely texturing. Plenty of space to slow down here. Two 13000ft runways give you loads of run off space.
At first this image doesnít show much, but if you look closely you can see that there is a sand mound smack in the centre of the two runways Private parking and some more freighters. Away form the noise of the main terminal.

From close up, the excellent textures, that have little frame rate impact.

The first of three shots of downtown Dubai.
The tallest buildings in Dubai are modelled. A very strange town, as everything around them is flat! The third, showing the most detailed of the skyscrapers, the Burj Al Arab hotel Emirates are the biggest user of Dubai, and are ever expanding their fleet, very recently placing the largest aircraft order in airline history. Dubai International and Dubai cities rather random golf course!

Links:

FlyTampa Home ē Dubai Forum ē FlyDubai at Simmarket
Dubai Airport Homepage ēDubai Airport on Wikipedia

 
 

  

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