Interview: iniBuilds on Honolulu Airport Development

We sit down with iniBuilds to talk about Honolulu Airport and how they develop such an expansive airport.

Posted: 28-Aug-2023 @ 17:00z
Updated: 29-Aug-2023 @ 12:09z
Interview: iniBuilds on Honolulu Airport Development

If you haven’t already seen the news, iniBuilds has just released Honolulu Airport (PHNL) for Microsoft Flight Simulator. It’s an airport that has been highly sought after in rich detail for a long time, and now it’s available to enable simmers to explore the Hawaiian islands. We spoke to the development team at iniBuilds who gave us a bit more detail on how the airport came together and what it takes to be working collaboratively on these huge airport products.

FSElite: Why did you decide to take on Honolulu for your next scenery release?

iniBuilds: Selecting the location for our next scenery release is always a meticulous process. With Honolulu, we aimed to offer the flight simulation community an iconic and diverse destination that blends stunning natural landscapes with urban vibrance. The popularity of Honolulu as a tourist hotspot, coupled with its unique blend of cultures and geographical features, made it an exciting choice. We believe that capturing the beauty of its beaches, lush mountains, and bustling cityscape will provide virtual pilots with an immersive experience like no other!

We have covered a lot of the intricate oriental-inspired and historic features, and artwork throughout the product, which we hope will provide an immersive experience to our customers.

Furthermore, Honolulu, has been a highly requested product by our community, and fits in nicely with the iniBuilds Summer Suprises event currently underway!

FSElite: How do you get the required data and imagery to help you create the product to such a fine level of detail?

iniBuilds: We use a variety of sources ranging from local knowledge and site visits through to professionally acquired orthoimagery and published charts. Local knowledge is invaluable when it comes to understanding what it is about an airport that pilots believe sets it apart from all others.

This is critical for us at iniBuilds – we don’t want to just create accurately placed buildings or taxi-signs but want to provide an immersive, transformative experience for our customers and those unique, local elements are fundamental in our view in a scenery product.

FSElite: Can you share with us the process your team goes through to create the airport? Does it go through various stages or people during the course of development?

iniBuilds: It certainly is a team wide effort!

We have various stages at iniBuilds – planning, production & testing.

For this product, we had over 20 people support from researching key features to modelling the large terminal areas to those who have to test each jetway connection, to ensure we are providing the highest quality to our customers!

This complex process aims to offer a lifelike experience, seamlessly blending with the simulator’s environment.

FSElite: How do you decide what areas to focus on for performance versus level of detail? Are you finding better techniques over time to improve visual quality whilst maintaining good levels of performance?

iniBuilds: We try to initially focus on those areas that are of most interest to those who are familiar with the real-world airport as well as adding details to the elements that are unique and identifiable.

Balancing performance and detail in virtual environments involves prioritizing critical areas like runways and terminals for higher detail, while optimizing less essential regions for smoother performance. We employ techniques like level-of-detail models, varying texture resolutions, and dynamic loading to achieve this balance.

FSElite: What are some of your stand-out favourite elements of Honolulu Airport for you? Any feature or area you’re most proud of or given a specific challenge?

Hawaii is such a picturesque destination it really is hard to pick our favourites. But if we had to choose, we would pick the Cultural Garden that has been faithfully recreated, the array of buildings with amazing artwork, and the complex geometry with the peripheral buildings such as the train station or car parks, that have been modelled accurately!

Not a feature, but an important statement to make about this product; is the fact that 10% of all revenue in the first month, will be going to the American Red Cross for the Hawaii Wildfire crises that have affected thousands of people. Like the Turkey Earthquake disaster, at iniBuilds, we want to support humanitarian efforts as much as we can around the world and do our part for society beyond flight simulation.

If you would like to donate directly to support this effort; you can do so here.

FSElite: Can you tease where you may be heading for your next major airport release?

iniBuilds: We’re excited to share that our next major airport release is going to be a truly iconic destination that reflects the perfect blend of modern-day and tradition. This vibrant location is known for its impressive skyline, bustling aviation scene, and its role as a global crossroads. It’s going to be a great destination to visit to escape the European/North American winter in a few month’s time… 😉

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Calum Martin
Calum has been an avid fan of Flight Sim since the release of FS2000 and has developed his love for aviation ever since.

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