FTX: NA KSQL San Carlos Airport
For FSX/Prepar3D Published by Orbx
Reviewed by Andrew Godden
June 2015


Northern California and the San Francisco Bay area provides some beautiful areas for flying. Whatever your type of flying preference, this area covers such a wide range of flying opportunities. Orbx's FTX: NA Northern California region scenery enhanced this area magnificently, complementing the adjacent FTX: Pacific Northwest region, and further expanding the flight simulator world.

Now Orbx have released another airport for the FTX: NA Northern California region. FTX: NA KSQL San Carlos Airport is the fourth airport release for this area and the second for developer, Ed Correia. Located in the Silicon Valley and close to many well-known technology companies, San Carlos Airport is a busy general aviation airport in the San Francisco Bay Area and is classified as a reliever airport for San Francisco International Airport. Ideally situated in the Bay Area, it is the perfect departure or destination point for short duration or day trips.


Located on the south-western area of the San Francisco Bay Area, San Carlos Airport was established at its current location in the early 1950s by the Cooley family before ownership changed hands in March 1952. Home to over 30 aviation related businesses, the airport is also home to the Hiller Aviation Museum which specialises in the history of Northern California aircraft as well as helicopter history.

Situated close to many technology companies, the most notable being Oracle, there has been much speculation over the years that the airport's IATA code, SQL, is a humorous reference to its large neighbour. In fact, the airport was designated SQL many years before the development of the SQL programming language and when Software Development Laboratories (later Oracle) was incorporated in 1977.

Availability and Installation

FTX: NA KSQL San Carlos 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). At the time of writing of this review, it is priced at £16.95, or the equivalent on currency cross rates. The download file size is 456.57MB and a key code is issued via email and required during installation.

The installation process is easy and intuitive and the scenery installs seamlessly as part of the North American Region in the FTX Central 2 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).

Scenery Coverage

The area of coverage provided by FTX: NA KSQL San Carlos Airport extends from Redwood Shores in the north to East Palo Alto in the south and to the east of the Bayshore Freeway and it covers an area of approximately 20 square miles (52 square kilometres). This is a relatively small coverage area, especially when you consider a large area to the east of the airport is an area of slough. However, the majority of the major features and buildings in the area around the airport are included.

Coverage Area

Google Earth


Level of Detail

San Carlos Airports itself is fully modelled and the developer, Ed Correia, has stepped out from behind his regular role of Orbx Forum administration and developer of the product installers to deliver an extremely accurate depiction of the airport. Various aspects of scenery complexity levels for FTX: NA KSQL and FTX: NA Northern California can be set in the KSQL Control Panel and this is addressed appropriately in the documentation.

Airport Overview

Runway Sign - You Won't Get Lost Here

Airport. The airport and immediate surrounding area is covered by 30 centimetre photo realistic scenery. Within the airport boundary, the level of detail in FTX: NA SQL is excellent and the accuracy is exceptional. As has become the expected standard with Orbx airports, this brings this great little airport to life and it is complete in every detail. There is a fantastic range of operations areas, hangars, static aircraft, and ground vehicles. When comparing FTX: NA KSQL with imagery from Google Earth, the accuracy in the level of detail within the airport boundary extends way beyond just building and major object placement, it includes the accurate depiction and placement of signage, ramp markings, and minor object placement of the smallest detail, including drainage grates and the Rutan Long-EZ on the roof of the Hiller Aviation Museum.

Terminal Building & Ramp

Rwy 12 Approach

Museum Entrance

Rutan Long-EZ

Maintenance Operation (note the drainage grate)

Aircraft Garages & Lake Renegade

Signage & Taxiway Markings

Terminal at Night

Surrounding Area. The level of detail also extends outside the immediate airport precinct to the broader area of coverage, albeit to an expected reduced level. Nonetheless, major buildings in the vicinity of the airport are represented, including the Oracle complex and Oracle University campus, the Bay Club, Electronic Arts, and Sofitel San Francisco Bay, to name a few. In specific instances, the representation and positioning of these buildings was also highly accurate and detailed. Of particular note with other scenery represented in the surrounding area is the bus depot adjacent to the airport and the accurate representation and positioning of the high voltage transmission towers.

Museum & High Voltage Transmission Towers

Bus Depot

Quality of Buildings

Overall, the quality of individual buildings, particularly around the airport precinct, is exceptional. The airport control tower, and various operational buildings are very well modelled and represented. Specific buildings in the area surrounding the airport, such as the Oracle buildings, are also of an excellent quality. Other buildings outside the airport precinct appeared more generic in nature. Of the buildings modelled to a high degree of quality, a comparative review of images from FTX: NA KSQL and images researched on the internet clearly demonstrated the incredible level of quality in the building models.

Control Tower

Terminal Building

Training & Aircraft Rentals Operation

Museum Rear & Compass Rose

Observation Platform & Shelter

Airport Operations Building

Oracle Offices

Hotel Sofitel

The end result with FTX: NA KSQL is a mixture of 30 and 60 centimetre photo realistic scenery coverage, with excellent annotation, which provides a level of high detail whilst maintaining a level of balance in what is an extremely scenery intensive area. This balance achieves a solid visual representation which provides many visual reference points for VFR navigation purposes.


As part of the installation, a 21 page User Guide is provided in Adobe Acrobat format (.pdf) and is accessible from the FTX Central 2 application. Other than providing a detailed overview of FTX: NA KSQL, it also provides comprehensive information on the following:
        • San Carlos Airport;
        • manual scenery library configuration;
        • KSQL Control Panel;
        • scenery coverage;
        • quick reference FSX / P3D settings;
        • recommended FSX / P3D slider scenery settings; and
        • autogen density slider settings.


Having enabled all features in the KSQL Control Panel, FTX: NA KSQL San Carlos Airport performed excellently within the existing settings I have in FSX. I have my frame rate locked at 40 frames per second with most of my settings set high to very high. I have often found the area around KSFO to have an impact on frame rate performance, even with a default installation of FSX. Taking this into account, including the typical frame rate performance I get in this area with my various add-ons, I did not need to make any adjustments to compensate for performance issues and there was no discernible impact on frame rate performance against what I typically get. 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

Overall, FTX: NA KSQL San Carlos Airport is considered very good value for money. For fans of Orbx products, this assessment becomes somewhat irrelevant, however, for others whose consideration of money is more important, the relative value for money of FTX: NA KSQL potentially decreases. In such cases of the latter, and whilst it is designed to complement the FTX: NA Northern California region scenery, you would need to be using FTX: NA KSQL regularly to get the maximum benefit from your purchase.

Technical Requirements

With the exception of requiring FTX: NA Northern California installed, there are no other stated, specific system technical requirements, other than a system capable of running FSX / P3D. The FTX: NA KSQL San Carlos Airport User Manual provides some excellent advice on the various scenery slider settings and KQSL Control Panel settings which will maximise the performance of the software and FSX / P3D for a range of hardware specifications. Note. Whilst FTX: NA KSQL can be installed without the FTX: NA Northern California product, full functionality of the software will not be realised.

Review Computer Specifications

The specifications of the computer on which the review was conducted are as follows:
        • Intel i7 990X Extreme, 3.46GHz;
        • NVidia GTX980 G1 Gaming, 4GB, 1228/1329MHz;
        • 12GB, Kingston DDR3, 2000MHz, XMP T1 CL9 HyperX;
        • 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 Trees HD; Orbx FTX region series; and Orbx FTX airport series.


Orbx FTX: NA KSQL San Carlos Airport is an excellent scenery add-on which is replete with accuracy, detail and quality. The combination of the resolution of the photo realistic scenery and the accurate placement of objects meant I was able to accurately fly using VFR navigation techniques.

Overall, FTX: NA KSQL augments FTX: NA Northern California beautifully and provides another excellent base and focal point for flights in the region. For anyone who flies in this region regularly, or is simply a fan of Orbx products, FTX: NA KSQL is an addition to your scenery you will enjoy having.

Simply Beautiful

Verdict and Rating

Another great airport from Orbx, FTX: NA KSQL San Carlos Airport displays excellent quality and exceptional level of detail to complement the FTX: NA Northern California offering.

Excellent quality.
Exceptional level of accuracy and attention to detail.
Comprehensive documentation.

Relatively small coverage area.

   ● Scenery Coverage: 9.0/10
   ● Level of Detail: 9.5/10
   ● Quality of Buildings: 9.5/10
   ● Documentation: 10/10
   ● Performance: 10/10
   ● Value for Money: 9.0/10

Orbx FTX: NA KSQL San Carlos Airport is awarded a Mutley’s Hangar score of 9.5/10, with an "Outstanding"
 and a Mutley's Hangar Gold Award.