• Review: Fairbanks Airports X by Precision FSN

    Review: Fairbanks Airports X by Precision FSN

    By Bill Stack
    March 10, 2012

    Screen shots by PFSN

    Fairbanks, Alaska, is a city of almost 100,000 people in the interior of this northernmost state of the U.S.A. Founded in 1901 as a trading post on the Tanana River, it is named after Charles W. Fairbanks, who was Vice President of the U.S.A. under President Theodore Roosevelt. Its climate is subartic, with long and cold winters and short and warm summers. Its major economic activities are agriculture, mining, transportation, and various government services. It is home to the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

    This scenery by Precision FSN includes three of the airports serving the greater Fairbanks area: Fairbanks International (PAFA), Metro Field (MTW), and Chena Marina (AK28):

    • Fairbanks International Airport (PAFA) is busy with general-aviation and cargo operations, plus refueling for trans-polar commercial routes. It had more than 133,000 operations in 2009, averaging about 365 daily. Almost 70 percent of its traffic is general aviation and less than 15 percent is scheduled commercial. Its top scheduled destinations outside Alaska are Seattle, Washington; Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Salt Lake City, Utah. It has two paved runways (6,500 and 11,800 feet long), a 2,900-foot gravel runway, and a 5,400-foot water runway.
    • Chena Marina (AK28) and Metro Field (MTF) are privately owned airstrips. Chena Marina is a Recreational Vehicle park with an airstrip, a float-plane pond, and cabin rentals. Officially, 157 aircraft are based there. Metro Field also has an airstrip and a float-plane pond. Officially, 24 aircraft are based there.
    SCENERY LOCATION

    Screen Shot by Bill Stack

    The Sceneries

    The three Fairbanks airports are rendered by Precision FSN in three distinct sceneries that must be activated individually. Each is more realistic than the FSX default renditions. Colors, layouts, and positioning of details are all better than the FSX default. All three sceneries focus on the airports and do not extend beyond. Seasonal effects are implemented at all three airports.

    AIRPORT COMPARISONS

    PFSN

    FSX Default

    International

    International

    International

    International

    International

    International

    Chena Marina

    Chena Marina

    Metro Field

    Metro Field

    PFSN

    FSX Default

    Screen shots by Bill Stack

    The Airports

    Fairbanks International Airport features a custom-modeled terminal building and control-tower building, improved parking, animated jetways, vehicle routes, and ramp lights. Runways, taxiways, lighting, and radio navigation aids at the international airport are corrected and improved over the FSX default. The airport database is updated with an accurate taxiway system, runway numbers, and GPS approaches.

    All three airports are rendered more realistically than the default airports in FSX. Colors and lighting effects are improved. All three have "seasonal orthoimagery" for summer and winter and auto-generated trees and buildings. The float ponds at each airport have been accurately modeled with the water color. The waters at each airport turn to ice in November &#8212 solid ice that wheeled aircraft can taxi, take off, and land on if desired.

    AIRPORT DETAILS
    International International
    Chena Marina Metro Field
    Chena Marina Metro Field

    Screen shots by Bill Stack
    NIGHT VIEWS
    International International
    Chena Marina Metro Field

    Screen shots by Bill Stack

    Using the Scenery

    Fairbanks International Airport is ideal for intrastate, interstate, and international passenger and cargo operations. Distance to other Alaskan cities are: Nome, 450 nautical miles; Anchorage, 225 NM; and Barrow, 436 NM. It can also be used for international stopovers between North America and Asia. At 11,800 feet, Runway 2L/20R is long enough for Boeing 747s. Distance to the three regularly serviced cities outside Alaska are: Minneapolis, 2,127 MN; Salt Lake City, 1,894 NM; and Seattle 1,318 NM. Pilots are warned to be alert for snow-removal operations form 1 Oct to 15 May, according to AirNav.

    As small, privately owned airstrips, Chena Marina and Metro Field are perfect for light aircraft and floats for intrastate and bush flights. Without approach lighting or published instrument procedures, their operations are restricted to daylight and visual weather. AirNav says Chena Marina and Metro Field are "Private use. Permission required prior to landing."

    USING FAIRBANKS AIRPORTS

    Screen shots by Bill Stack

    Documents

    Three documents accompany the package: PFSN-Fairbanks Airports Installation.pdf provides installation instruction. PFSN_Fairbanks Airports X Description.pdf gives an overview of the package. Photoreal fairbanks license.txt is the user license.

    Technical Features

    This scenery is for FSX only.

    The developer says the three sceneries can be run "fairly well" on a 1.2 GHz (dual core) processor with the scenery-objects slider set to maximum. He recommends setting the autogen slider from minimal to zero to keep frame rates from being "undesirably slow." For better performance, a higher power computer is recommended. I did not see slow frame rates at any of the three airports with my Windows 7 computer. Other users might have different experiences, but I didn't see any excessive details in these sceneries that would cause slow frame rates.

    Purchase and installation from the Pilot Shop are very easy. Downloading and installation are quick because the files are not huge.

    Users must change the installation directory. The installation program defaults to "c:\" but that won't work. The correct directory is c:\...\Microsoft Flight Simulator\Addon Scenery.

    To make my comparative screen shots, I first made a series of shots with PFSN's scenery activated, and I then went to precisely the same vantage points with their scenery deactivated (FSX default). Any differences in positions of objects results from differences in the depictions, not from faults in the viewpoints of my screenshots. In one photo, however, I was forced to move the viewpoint about 50 feet to the left to get the comparison effect. The entire shot would have been trees otherwise. It's not uncommon for add-on scenery to differ from default FSX because default FSX isn't absolutely accurate in all locations.

    Technical support is available through an email address provided in the documents. Responses to my inquiries were quick, clear, courteous, and helpful.

    Readers with technical questions not answered in this review should ask the developer. Using the links below, go to the Pilot Shop page where the product is listed and described, then click on "Manufacturer Tech Support" in the right column.

    PURCHASE FEATURES

    Instant download from the Pilot Shop

    Yes

    Installation program

    Yes

    License key

    No

    Copyright acknowledgment

    Yes

    Documents included

    Yes

    Uninstall program included

    Yes

    TECHNICAL FEATURES

    MSFS Version

    FSX

    Operating System

    Windows XP, Vista, Win 7

    Special Settings

    Yes

    Frame Rates

    Good

    Tech Support

    Good

    Price

    $20.00 US

    More Information

    Information about Fairbanks, Alaska, is available from several reliable sources:


    Precision FSN develops software for flight simulators "with a focus on precision, offering add-ons for navigation and scenery." Its other products are U.S. and Canada Navaid Update and U.S. Navaid Update X 2012.

    Bill Stack
    [email protected]

    Learn More PFSN's Fairbanks Airports X for FSX.


    Bill Stack is author of several books about flight simulation, a regular author in flight-sim magazines, and a contributor to Flight Sim Com. His website is www.topskills.com


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