• EagleSim's Cancun International Airport

    EagleSim's Cancun International Airport

    By Bill Stack (25 September 2009)

    Screen shots by EagleSim

    Cancun is a world-renowned resort city on the eastern-most point of the Yucatan Peninsula, which is on the eastern coast of Mexico, across the Yucatan Channel from Cuba. The center of Cancun is on the mainland, and the major tourist area is on the island. It was conceived in the 1960s by Mexican financiers specifically to create a tourist business that would bring revenue to Mexico from outside. Having been designed in modern times, it is laid out in blocks with traffic circles (roundabouts) where major routes intersect. While most buildings on the island beachfronts are several stories high, most buildings on mainland Cancun are no higher than four stories. Cancun International Airport (MMUM) is Mexico's second busiest airport after Mexico City, handling more than 12 million passengers in 2008. By far its largest number of passengers come from the United States, with Canada second and Spain third. Its three terminals have nearly 50 gates, and it has a large cargo facility.

    FSX Globe

    FSX Map

    FSX Aerial Photo

    Cancun Overview

    Scenery Location
    Screen shots by Bill Stack

    Major Features

    EagleSim's scenery is for FSX with Acceleration installed. The scenery will work without Acceleration but some scenery objects will be missing. Four areas are enhanced: The airport itself, the tourist areas on the island, hotels on the mainland near the lagoon, and Chichen Itza (Mayan) ruins southwest of the airport.

    Various small enhancements of the airport make using the airport more realistic. As examples:

    • Jetways
    • Ground crews
    • Static ground vehicles
    • Moving aircraft and ground vehicles

    Beach areas include hotels, parking areas, and marinas.

    Mayan ruins include a pyramid temple, derelict stone buildings, and primative huts.

    Overall scenery includes more auto-generated objects, according to EagleSim's product description.

    Frame rates appear about the same in Eagle Sims scenery and the FSX default scenery.

    This scenery package is conveniently available for immediate downloading from the Flight Sim Pilot Shop.



    Airport Overview



    Cancun Main Terminal



    Cancun Runway 12

    EagleSim's Cancun International Airport

    Screen shots by Bill Stack

    Comparative Screen Shots

    My comparative screen shots were made as follows:

    • With EagleSim's Cancun scenery activated, and with my display settings according to EagleSim's recommendations, I slewed to suitable "photo spots" and snapped various screen shots.

    • Activating and deactivating add-on scenery in FSX is time consuming, so I made all the EagleSim shots first, showing the position data shown at the top.

    • With EagleSim's Cancun scenery deactivated, I slewed to the same "photo spots," using the same position data shown at the top of the corresponding set of screen shots, and snapped screen shots with the default FSX scenery.

    As a result of this process, each pair of screen shots is made from exactly the same position, altitude, and heading. Apparent differences in viewpoints result from differences in the sceneries themselves.



    Hotels Near the Lagoon



    Marina and Hotels on the Island

    Scenes From EagleSim's Cancun Scenery

    Screen shots by Bill Stack

    Nice Features

    A text file that provides headings from the airport to other scenery features is very useful for finding those features.

    Jetways and ramp equipment makes using the main terminal seem more realistic.

    A sinking boat and a motor-vehicle wreck on the bridge are ideal for simulating rescue missions.

    Terminal with jetways and vehicles

    Sinking Ship

    Vehicle Wreck on Bridge

    Scenes From EagleSim's Cancun Scenery

    Screen shots by Bill Stack

    Cancun Main Terminal Ramp

    Light or Radio Tower

    Perimeter Fence

    Truck With Plow

    Radar Facility

    Features at Cancun International Airport

    Screen shots by Bill Stack

    Airport at Dusk

    Lagoon Hotels at Dusk

    Marina and Island Hotels at Night

    Dusk and Night Views

    Screen shots by Bill Stack


    As enticing as this scenery is, there are several weaknesses:

    There is no installation program. Several "BGL" scenery files must be extracted directly or copied from the ZIP archive file into the scenery folders for the respective flightsim program (FS2004 or FSX). This is relatively easy for those who know how to use archive programs and Windows explorer, but I know from experience that not all flight simmers have these skills.

    There is no uninstall program if users decided they don't want the scenery on their hard drive. Deleting the scenery is easy, however &#8212 simply use Windows Explorer to delete the BGL files and related folders.

    Although called "Cancun International Airport," most of the scenery enhancements are off the airport grounds such as on the island and at the Mayan temple locales.

    The scenery isn't realistic:

    • Real-world pictures I found on the internet do not show 500-foot tall buildings just east of the airport, as depicted in EagleSim's scenery, or any tall buildings anywhere near the airport.

    • Photos and maps do not show a bridge linking the island with the mainland. Instead, they show a causeway in that location with many buildings on it.

    • Hotels on the island in EagleSim's scenery do not look like the hotels in real photographs.

    I am unable to use any of these real-world photos in this review, but many are readily available through ordinary internet searches.

    • The radar facility near the threshold of runway 30 is too close to the runway and taxiway. Wings of large aircraft such as 747s could strike any objects this close to the edge of a runway or taxiway even when their nose wheel is on the centerline, as could any aircraft that are not right on the centerline during crosswinds.

    • I did not see any Mayan temples or pyramids in the satellite photos, yet I know they are around the Cancun Area, so I am unable to comment on the accuracy of EagleSim's depiction. Given EagleSim's depiction of other items in this scenery, I am skeptical of their accuracy.

    In response to these issues, EagleSim said: "As always this scenery is meant to be fun and to make FS a little better, not realism."

    My comparative screen shots do not show the enhancements that EagleSim claims in its product description or shows in its screen shots.

    • I don't see any visible enhancements to runways, taxiways, or signage, even though EagleSim's product description says these areas have been enhanced. The taxiways look different, but I can't say they look better.

    • Some of the scenery objects shown in EagleSim's screen shots are only there if you have Acceleration installed in addition to FSX itself.

    Initially, no enhancements at all appeared even though I had installed the two BGL files exactly as recommended by EagleSim in its "instructions" text file. EagleSim said they had not received any other criticisms of this nature, but they emailed me an "upgrade/patch" that contained three more BGL files in addition to the two BGL files that come with the original package. When I still couldn't see any differences between the sceneries after copying the three additional BGL files, I tried a slightly different installation: I created within the "Addon Scenery" a folder named "Cancun Mexico EagleSim" and within that folder a subfolder named "Scenery," then I copied the five BGL files into that "Scenery" folder. Voila! The Eagle Sim Cancun scenery appeared for the first time. EagleSim said: "We'll have an installer for the service pack which will fix that problem with installing."

    Buildings east of airport



    These objects do not appear in real-world photos.

    These island hotels do not
    resemble the real buildings.

    Radar is too close
    to runway & taxiway.

    Examples of unrealistic features
    Screen shots by Bill Stack


    Some aspects of EagleSim's Cancun scenery enable more realistic experience at the airport, but imaginary buildings near the airport and on the island make this scenery fantastical overall instead of realistic. Because Eagle Sim admits that it never intended for its Cancun scenery to be realistic, it should explicitly reveal this condition in its product description so consumers are not misled into believing that its depiction of the Cancun area is real. This requirement is especially so when the product description heralds correction of features such VOR locations and names. Buyers have every right to expect realism unless explicitly told otherwise.

    EagleSim needs to upgrade its product sold at the Flight Sim Pilot Shop to include all necessary BGL files. For buyers to find the scenery to be not as advertised and seek an "upgrade/patch" of files that should have been included in the first place is a needless hassle for them and EagleSim's tech support. Buyers also need to be aware that if FSX Acceleration is not installed some scenery objects will not show up.

    Users would find this product much easier to use if EagleSim provided a simpler installation configuration such as the one I found through trial and error. The promised installation service pack will hopefully improve this situation.

    Bill Stack

    Learn More About EagleSim's Cancun Scenery for FS2004 and 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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