Flightbeam Studios, known for making several major US airports in great detail, return once again with a new version of KSFO, or San Francisco International Airport.
San Francisco International Airport, often referred to as SFO, is a Class B airport located in San Mateo County in the Bay Area, California. It is the second busiest airport in the state of California and one of the world’s busiest airports as well. It is a major hub for United Airlines, and is Virgin America’s base of operations. It also sees plenty of international service as well. It is unique in its layout, with two sets of close together parallel runways that run perpendicular to each other. These runways are 10L/28R, 10R/28L, 1L/19R, and 1R/19L.
Installation is a bit different than what you might typically see, but it’s still quite simple. The airport is available from Flightbeam’s website for a price of $29.99 USD. The installer is a reasonable 163 MB in size, but don’t let the relatively small size deceive you, this airport is extremely detailed. Just run the installer, answer the prompts that will pop up at different times during installation, then go into your sim and enter in the serial number given to you. After installation, the KSFO HD folder is about 400 MB in my P3D installation. There is no config tool available for KSFO HD like you may see out of the likes of Orbx or FlyTampa, but that isn’t major as Flightbeam has taken many steps to optimize the airport as well as possible.
So, this was a bit of a pickle. I checked my KSFO HD folder to find that there was no manual included in the installation. However, there is a manual available from Flightbeam’s website in pdf format. The manual is quite short, with a brief overview of the airport, activation instructions, and a few performance tips. Flightbeam’s forum contains an FAQ and additional performance tips for KSFO HD.
Okay…now for the airport
As a bay area native I got giddy when I first loaded into P3D on the day KSFO HD came out. I was already a fan of the KSFO legacy product, although it has certainly shown its age compared to Flightbeam’s newer products. The airport is incredible. Let the screenshots do the talking for now:
That AirTrain actually moves, and there are several of them.
Just the roads leading into the airport made me think I was actually driving around the airport.
The ground textures look great too.
A nice shot of the old control tower with the new one in the background.
The texturing on the runways looks fantastic as well.
The currently closed area of Terminal 1. I went there in real life and had a small view of the area in that picture, and it’s spot on.
Showing off the unique jetways at the United terminals, and yes they do dock to your aircraft with Ctrl+J. They don’t move like typical ones, they can only move up and down, and extend and retract to my knowledge.
A few cargo ramp shots.
The Superbay hangar.
Some GA Ramp shots.
Flightbeam also did include some buildings surrounding the airport. Obviously the parking structures were included.
I also noticed that some of the buildings to the southeast were shown. The buildings I can name off are a Westin, a Marriott, Elephant Bar, and a Vagabond Inn. These are buildings you’d pass by as you walk to Bayfront Park, a popular spotting location that puts you close by most departures and offers a good view of arrivals onto the 28s.
While not modeled in as great detail as buildings on the airport premises, they still add to the atmosphere of the airport quite nicely, and when you’re lining up on the 1s for departure, it’s nice to see buildings that aren’t generic autogen.
The night lighting in KSFO HD is another strong suit of Flightbeam’s fantastic work. You should have no problems seeing where you’re going at night.
List of Features
-FSX and P3D compatible
-Updated Airport layout, including 28L extension, new control tower, and terminal reconstruction.
-Animated vehicles around the airport
-Highways into KSFO modeled accurately
-Advanced optimization techniques employed for best framerate and VAS usage
Flightbeam did an excellent job of optimizing KSFO HD. Compared to KSFO Legacy, my VAS usage decreased from 1.3 GB remaining departing out of KSFO in the NGX to 1.5 GB remaining. I landed in with the NGX as well, and saw steady framerates in the mid 20s, which is what I typically get at high quality airports. Flightbeam placed a lot of emphasis during development on how optimized KSFO HD was going to be, and they definitely delivered.
EVGA GTX 980 4GB
16GB DDR4 RAM
Windows 8.1 64-bit
As a bay area native, I’m very happy with the attention the bay has gotten rounded out very nicely in 2015. We’ve seen two nice GA releases with KSQL by Orbx and KPAO by Cielosim, and now we get a major international airport with KSFO. KSFO HD is definitely worth picking up. People who own the legacy KSFO get a 10% discount when purchasing KSFO HD. Flightbeam have created one of the best major airports you can buy for FSX and P3D. The modeling and texturing are top-notch and the airport is still extremely performance friendly.
Written by – Daniel Everman