• Fruit Stand Tutorial

    Fruit Stand Tutorial

    By Roy White

    How To Populate Airports Correctly In X-Plane

    Flight simulation has come a long way from when I first started 'flying' back in 1986. This was a time when flight simulation was still in its infancy and where crude black and white lines doubled for runways and scenery! The detailed scenery, particularly airports, we 'fly' on our home computers today, create an immersion factor that rivals, and in many ways exceeds, that provided by commercial flight simulators costing millions of dollars!

    However, as many of us will know, flying into a deserted airport (i.e. no aircraft to be seen anywhere) destroys some of this illusion. To counter this, many authors (of otherwise superb X-Plane scenery renderings) go to the most common library available - 'OpenSceneryX' - and randomly select planes to populate their airports.

    The end result is that because 'random' aircraft have been used in the scenery design, the immersion factor again takes a battering. Why? Well, imagine you are drawing up to a gate at a European airport (say, your home airport, which you know intimately) and as you do, right next to you, you see a 'United' regional B1900! Either you've flown 4000 miles off course, or the most common cause, the wrong aircraft is present at the wrong airport.

    It takes many hours, sometimes days and months, to create a highly detailed scenery, yet the extra time needed to correctly determine how to populate the airport, in order to avoid the scenario mentioned, above is less than the time taken to read this tutorial!

    With that in mind, here is my procedure for populating airports. In each case, it doesn't matter whether these airports are downloaded from an internet site, converted (by myself) using FS2Xplane, or even payware scenery that I own. For each, it's the same procedure.

    For this tutorial, I will use two airports as examples: MPTO and LIRF since they will illustrate the steps for a single terminal and additional ones for multi-terminal airports.

    Data Collection

    To find details of the airport of interest, the best go-to site is Wikipedia. Simply open Google or your preferred search engine and type "wiki xxxx airport" in the search box (xxxx is either the four digit ICAO code or airport name).

    You will find a listing of all the airlines serving that airport, which terminal (if multi-terminal) they use, and many statistics such as the busiest routes.

    Do likewise for any airline, e.g. type "wiki Aeromexico" and you will find a complete listing of their current fleet (including cargo if they have them) and their retired aircraft (see Aeromexico.pdf).

    Another great site for airport info (and one which saves a great deal of time) is http://www.ifly.com/ Here you'll find the terminal layout for multi-terminal airports as well as a pull-down listing of the airlines at each terminal! This is used extensively as you will see later.

    Important information gained from these sites regarding an airline is kept in individual 'work folders', e.g. Airlines/Aeromexico, as I will need refer to it many times in the future.

    One more go-to site is https://skyvector.com/ which, whilst primarily designed for flight planning, is a good place to access terminal diagrams of (most) airports in the world.

    Planes, Planes, Where Art Thou?

    I started on this tutorial several months ago, but when I got to this section work came to a halt as I saw a significant problem...there were very few choices of 'real world' aircraft available for X-Plane! How come you say, as the OpenSceneryX library of aircraft, plus the few available in the lib/airport section that comes with X-Plane, has more than 600 varieties?

    Because unfortunately it is sixty six percent incorrect! One does not realize until a spreadsheet is created (see Airlines tab in XPlane Static AC Libraries.xlsx) that the library authors, in the most part, assembled groups, one of aircraft and one of liveries, and then married the two together. The result of this is that many airlines will be flying aircraft which they do not own. These erroneous liveries are shown in red.

    Additionally, due to the age of the data, it includes now defunct airlines (green). If we look at the spreadsheet we can see how few real aircraft (black) the library contains; only 147 out of a total of 622. This covers only 54 airlines and even some of these have logos which have been superseded by new ones.

    The same goes for cargo aircraft (see Cargo tab in the spreadsheet), out of 67 available, only 19 are current and only 5 carriers are covered!

    There are a number of excellent free aircraft libraries available for X-Plane - North American, European, Serviced, World Aircraft all authored by Robin Tannahill (Royaloak) - which do a good job at adding a few more 'real' liveries (see Serviced tabs) to airports. Apart from these however, aircraft libraries are few and far between. Other than collecting for your personal use, aircraft that scenery authors had created for their own sceneries, there was nothing.

    With this in mind, I transferred my activity to creating and uploading "THE-FRUIT-STAND" library (Download The Fruit Stand Aircraft Library) which contains 455 current liveries for 17 aircraft types. Adding this library to your system goes a long way in allowing you to populate your airports correctly, as it contains over 200 current carriers not available in the other libraries (see TFS tab in XPlane Static AC Libraries).

    The possibility of adding another similar dedicated library down the road is being researched. This will cover the major workhorses of the airline industry, the A319/A32x and B73*series, which would really complete the picture.

    Tags: fruit stand

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