FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport
For FSX / Prepar3D Published by Orbx
Reviewed by Andrew Godden
For some, flight simming is about pushing large metal tubes through
the sky at 30,000+ ft, while others enjoy the turboprop experience
from 15,000+ ft. For both, it is about flying into and out of the
regional and large airports which support those aircraft operations
and overflying country oft seen but rarely visited. Orbx continue to
develop airport scenery add-ons to cater to a broad variety of
flight simming tastes, but one of their latest releases is focused
on country oft seen but rarely visited.
FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport is another beautiful complement to the
Orbx Pacific Northwest region and the existing range of Orbx
airports in the region. Gordon Madison, one of the more recent
talented additions to the Orbx development team, has created FTX: CA
CYSE with a focus on detail and features to capture the beauty of
this amazing area.
Squamish is located in British Columbia, at the northern end of Howe
Sound, on the Sea-to-Sky Highway between Vancouver and the ski
resort town of Whistler. The town had its beginning during the
construction of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway in the 1910s and
remains important in the operations of the line (now a part of CN)
as a southern terminus and the port terminal. Forestry was
traditionally the main industry in the area until 2006. In recent
years, Squamish has become popular with Vancouver and Whistler
residents' escaping the increased cost of living in those places,
both being less than one hour away by highway. Tourism is an
increasingly important part of the town's economy, with an emphasis
on outdoor recreation, and Squamish has come to be known as the
Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada.
Squamish Airport is a small local airport located near the
confluence of the Squamish and Cheakamus Rivers at the northern end
of the town. With its single runway, it is home to a range of fixed
and rotary wing, general aviation, charter, and training operations.
Availability and Installation
FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport is available from The FlightSim Store
as a 'download only' product (a master back-up DVD service is also
available for a minor additional cost). It is priced at AUD$32.95,
or the equivalent on currency cross rates. The file size of 603.81MB
is reasonable considering the detail and quality of the scenery and
a key code is issued and used during installation.
The installation process is easy and intuitive and the scenery
installs seamlessly as part of the FTX: NA Pacific Northwest region
product (or FTX: NA Blue) and the FTX Central application. As with
any Orbx product, it is highly recommended that after installing the
product, you install or reinstall the latest version of the Orbx
Scenery Libraries (ORBXLIBS).
The area of coverage provided by FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport
measures approximately 85 sq mi (220 sq km), and includes the
township of Squamish north to the Cheakamus River and the top
northern section of Howe Sound. Most of the major features and
buildings in the area are included and FTX: CA CYSE comes with a
range of the latest Orbx Audio and 'Flow' technologies.
Level of Detail
Described as a "Sim within a sim.", for level of detail, FTX: CA
CYSE Squamish Airport is excellent. With 560 hand build models over
the coverage area, including over 250 custom models created
specifically for FTX: CA CYSE, and hand annotated vegetation, the
airport and township of Squamish come to life. Additionally, FTX: CA
CYSE features multiple environments. These fully developed
environments each have their own library of scenery objects and hand
annotated vegetation, and various features associated with them can
be enabled / disabled in the CYSE Control Panel. Some attention to
the section in the supplied manual and the CYSE Control Panel is
necessary to fully understand the impact of this multiple
Whilst I appreciate and applaud the concept, and found the level of
detail associated with this multiple environment approach
incredible, it left me wondering effectively how much use the
average user would make of it. Considering the potential performance
impact if everything is enabled, you could have to specifically
configure the environment features with each FSX session, depending
on the flying you intend doing in the coverage area.
the airport precinct, FTX: CA CYSE displays the trademark accuracy
and exceptionally high level of attention to detail. Replete with
object detail in both animated and static scenery, you really have
to 'walk around' the airport to fully appreciate the subtleties.
There is the usual range of static aircraft, operations areas,
refuelling points, hangars, and ground vehicles. Animated scenery
includes people engaged in a range of different activities, deer
emerging from the trees on the western side of the runway and
meandering around the runway edge at dawn and dusk, and the odd
squirrel running around the grassed area adjacent to the ramp outside
the Glacier Air hangar. Signage is another example of the obvious
detail and accuracy, with accurately portrayed airport signage
indicating the location of various airport operations and services.
Whilst you may never see some of these intricacies when flying in and
out of Squamish Airport, their mere incorporation in the product is a
mark of superior detail and something which sets Orbx products above
others. The developer has also shown some artistic licence by adding an ILS to the Runway 15 approach which
does not exist in the real world. This expands the airport's
operations for those who wish to fly into the area under less than favourable conditions and all year round. However, beware, as there
are no PAPI lights associated with the facility.
GA Ramp Area
Inside the Glacier Air Hangar
Deer at Dawn
town of Squamish, most of the major buildings are depicted with
custom made models. In addition to the airport, the Quest University
campus is a centrepiece of detail and accuracy. Depicted with highly
detailed, custom made models, it is an excellent example of the
effort which has gone into the development of FTX: CA CYSE. The
Squamish General Hospital, Capilano University, Capilano College,
schools, and major shopping centres are also depicted in reasonably high
detail. In other areas, models depict various churches, resort style
apartments, and industrial areas to a lesser degree of detail but
are still representative of real world buildings. The railway yard
is also depicted with a range of rolling stock and the electricity
sub-station to the north of the airport is also highly detailed. All
said, a review of these features using Google Earth and the 'Street
View' feature confirmed the representation, placement, and alignment
of these to be, generally, quite accurate.
Port and Waterfront.
Don Ross Secondary School
The port and general waterfront dock areas are another area
which has had some special attention as part of the multiple
environment approach and is represented with a high degree of
detail. This ranges from the large warehouses, ship, shipping
containers, and railway rolling stock at the terminal port, to the
variety of motor yachts, fishing trawlers, yachts, and general
pleasure craft in the marina and other general dock areas. The
marina and general dock area, alone, provide an atmosphere of
activity. The Squamish River is a living environment which includes
dynamic water colour changes with the seasons and also supports
boating, but with some care necessary.
Additional Aircraft Operations
Terminal Port with Water Runway in the Background
The waterfront boasts additional areas for
floatplane and helicopter operations with a floatplane facility
north of the general marina area, and various helipads, including at
the floatplane facility, the terminal port facility, and on the
ship. There is also a helipad at the hospital. The helipads at the
terminal port facility and hospital are depicted in their real world
locations. Again, some artistic licence has been shown by the
developer here with the depiction of the floatplane facility, and
associated helipad, in order to further expand the richness and use
of the scenery. A word of warning! Care must be taken when taxing a
floatplane out to the water runway in order to avoid a damaging
collision with harbour dolphins.
Terminal Port Helipads
is a beautiful area of rich seasonal variations and FTX: CA CYSE
comes with a range of seasonal textures which add dynamic seasonal
life to the scenery when flying in the region at different times of
the year. The developer has done a marvellous job in representing
these variations. It is a joy, and depending on the weather,
sometimes an extra special experience, to fly into Squamish Airport
or the surrounding helipads. The wind, particularly, can be tricky
across Howe Sound.
reviewing a product such as FTX: CA CYSE, my choice of aircraft is
critical in experiencing the full depth of the scenery detail. This
could not be more pertinent than in relation to experiencing the
sounds incorporated into the scenery. Simply moving around the
airport precinct there are so many subtle sounds to be experienced,
such as, mobile phones ringing, people having conversations, and
nature sounds, to name a few. Likewise, in other parts of the
scenery, this same level of subtlety exists. For those who enjoy
this level of detail, an ultralight or similar aircraft is the best
way to experience these features.
Again, aircraft choice is critical to fully experiencing the night lighting effects. As with other Orbx products, the night lighting effects
are excellent and provide an amazing atmosphere for night flying.
Airport lighting, and lighting at the various helipads provide
fantastic opportunities to explore this scenery under various low
light or night conditions.
Refuelling Point at Night
Glacier Hangar at Night - Note the Doors have been Closed
There were a few minor issues I encountered. In some instances, such
as the hospital, I found the detail a little too generic in nature,
whereas in others, there were instances where buildings were not
accurately depicted, in particular, some buildings were incorrectly
depicted as churches. The 'Virgin Blue' tug tractor at the airport
is clearly the result of using library objects developed for other
areas and the signage on some static aircraft and vehicle models was
incorrectly reversed. Whilst the sounds add to the background
ambience, hearing aircraft sounds when there are no AI aircraft
operating, either on the ground or in the air, is distracting.
The above issues aside, and after spending quite a few hours
exploring this product, I can honestly say, in developing this
scenery, Gordon Madison has delivered a level of detail in FTX: CA
CYSE Squamish Airport which provides an incredible immersion factor
which can be tailored to the individual desires of the user. The
detail is such that I have been able to appreciate the town and
outdoor wilderness of this beautiful area from my computer. The
combination of the resolution of the photorealistic scenery, and the
accurate placement of the detailed custom building models, meant I
was able to physically identify individual geographical features,
streets, and buildings. This level of accuracy and detail easily
facilitates VFR navigation for those who enjoy that type of flying.
Quality of Buildings
Overall, the quality of individual buildings, particularly around
the airport precinct, is incredible. A comparative review of images
from FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport, Google Earth, and images
researched on the internet clearly demonstrated the incredible level
of quality in the models.
The buildings are not simply just a representation of the structure,
their quality displays fine, accurate intricacies which can only be
appreciated by taking a close look. When exploring around the town,
again, the Quest University campus is another excellent example of
building quality. The floatplane operations facility and its
associated helipad is another little gem in this myriad of quality.
Black Tusk Helicopters
Again, there were some issues I encountered. The most significant of
these was the quality of the building depicting the Squamish
Adventure Centre. This is a prominent, iconic, and unique building
on the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Unique in its design, the representation
of this in FTX: CA CYSE is a major disappointment and is considered
to be an opportunity missed by the developer. In other instances,
such as the hospital, I found the quality of the models to be a
little too generic, to the point of being more industrial looking.
In some respects, my above comments could be seen as being
hypercritical, but this is only due to the high expectations Orbx
have created with their products.
Squamish Adventure Centre
Not Quite the Same
As part of the installation, a 48 page User Guide is provided in
Adobe Acrobat format (.pdf) and is accessible from the FTX Central
application. Other than providing an detailed overview of the FTX:
CA CYSE, it also provides comprehensive information on the
● Squamish Airport;
● surrounding NAVAIDs and the direction to surrounding
● manual scenery library configuration;
● CYSE Control Panel
● quick reference FSX settings;
● recommended FSX slider scenery settings; and
● autogen density slider settings.
I must state upfront, in conducting this review, I enabled all the
features in the CYSE Control Panel.
Having said that, FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport performed reasonably
within the existing settings I have in FSX. I have my frame rate
locked at 30 frames per second with most of my settings set high to
very high. Whilst I did not need to make any adjustments to
compensate for performance issues, there was quite a discernable impact on frame rate
performance. However, as I said, this was with all the features
enabled in the CYSE Control Panel. Of course, this is also system
dependent and paying heed to the relevant sections in the User
Manual should avoid any disappointment and provide optimum
performance for your particular system.
Value for Money
On the Value for Money assessment, FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport is
considered very good. Whilst the cost could be considered slightly
high, the coverage and its geographical location to other airports
in the associated FTX region and airport series is excellent.
Overall, it provides a fantastic base for flights to and from this
great local airport and if this suits the type of flying you do,
then FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport is a scenery add-on you will want
to have, and you will not be disappointed.
With the exception of requiring FTX: NA Pacific Northwest (or FTX:
NA Blue) installed, there are no other stated, specific system
technical requirements, other than a system capable of running FSX.
The FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport User Manual provides some
excellent advice on the various scenery slider settings and CYSE
Control Panel settings which will maximise the performance of the
software and FSX for a range of hardware specifications. Whilst FTX:
CA CYSE can be installed without the abovementioned FTX region
products, there are limitations with such installations.
Review Computer Specifications
The specifications of the computer on which the review was conducted
are as follows:
● Intel i7 990X Extreme, 3.46GHz;
● NVidia GTX580, 1536MB graphics;
● 12GB Kingston DDR3, 2000MHz;
● Windows 7, (64bit);
● Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX Acceleration; and
● additional major add-ons include: Active Sky Next, REX
Essential Plus Overdrive; Ultimate Traffic 2; Orbx FTX Global BASE;
Orbx FTX Global VECTOR; Orbx FTX Global
openLC EU; Orbx FTX region series; and Orbx FTX airport series.
Orbx FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport is an excellent scenery add-on,
rich in detail and quality. Whilst I can appreciate and applaud the
new level of detail of a multiple environment product, in some
respects, and for an area such as that covered by FTX: CA CYSE, I
cannot help but think the extent of the detail starts to go beyond
the reasonable limits of the average user.
Nonetheless, Gordon Madison has delivered a level of detail in FTX:
CA CYSE Squamish Airport which provides an incredible immersion
factor which can be tailored to the individual desires of the user.
It is a fantastic scenery add-on which beautifully complements
existing airports in the FTX: NA Pacific Northwest region and FTX
airport series and provides a fantastic focal point for flights. For
anyone who flies in this region regularly or is simply a fan of Orbx
products, FTX: CA CYSE will be an addition to your scenery you will
Verdict and Rating
Another solid product from Orbx, FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport
displays a new level of detail to complement the usual high quality
of other products in the Orbx offering.
Excellent level and attention to detail.
Comprehensive and thorough documentation.
Reasonable value for money.
Missed opportunity with the modelling of a unique, iconic building.
Minor issues of detail and quality with some buildings.
● Scenery Coverage:
Level of Detail:
Quality of Buildings:
● Value for Money:
Orbx FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport is awarded a Mutley’s Hangar score of 9.3/10,
with a "Highly Recommended" and a Mutley's Hangar Silver Award.