It’s the worlds fifth busiest airport, has 6 runways to serve traffic from literally every wind direction, serves one of the worlds biggest air fleets and recently celebrated its 100th birthday. Obviously I’m talking about Schiphol airport. It’s been almost two years since FlyTampa announced a new project on their forums which was quickly recognised as the famous airport. After some much anticipated previews, many questions about the progress and sometimes even doubts whether the airport would still release, it’s finally here.
First off, a little history. I already said it just celebrated its 100th birthday so you may have already guessed when Schiphol was originally build (1916). Schiphol was built first as a military base and only four years later opened its doors for passengers. Schiphol steadily grew and lost its military purposes. During World War 2 the then 4 runway’d airfield, together with its terminal building, were completely destroyed leaving little to nothing left. Schiphol was completely rebuilt and opened its doors again in the summer of 1945. Ever since then, Schiphol has seen a steady growth (again), with sometimes even entire small towns being demolished for its expansion.
Installation of Schiphol is pretty easy. Simply go through the installation wizard (there aren’t any options). The installation will install default HD textures as well as add the scenery to your scenery config file. This will also install the FlyTampa configurator that can be used to customise FlyTampa airports to your liking with more or less detail and more features.
FlyTampa are known for making incredibly well performing sceneries without needing to sacrifice too much on details. Have they managed to do that again with Schiphol? To be honest, the performance is incredibly hard to judge on this one. Upon the first time I installed it, my performance was horrible. Despite my effort in tweaking the scenery by lowering the details, installing an optional lite-texture pack and many more things my FPS would not go above 20. This did not correspond with the results some other people were having. When going to the forums to get help with my issue, it was clear I wasn’t the only one running into this issue. However, upon a reinstall of the scenery I was suddenly seeing 60 FPS everywhere. After turning on some of the details again, I was still seeing FPS around 40! I have no idea what happened here, but I’m glad I’ve got it sorted now. After my reinstall the performance seemed on par with other airports from FlyTampa. My VAS usage was very acceptable and my frames were smooth. I haven’t run into any crashes or OOMs anymore either. The performance is particularly good if you realise how big Schiphol airport really is and how much detail FlyTampa has incorporated into the scenery.
Schiphol is packed with features, many of which you can customise through the FlyTampa configurator tool. I’m not gonna list all of them here, but I am gonna pick out some features in particular. To begin with, the area is packed with custom objects. Animating windsocks, two static aircraft (a police helicopter and a Dornier that belongs to the coast guard), people and vehicles on the ramp, vehicles driving around, people on the panoramic terrace, custom apron objects, vehicles driving on the highways and roads that go over (and under) Schiphol and de-icing vehicles that will start working as you approach them. I love seeing these details. Although you might have to turn some of them down or off to gain a little performance, if your machine can handle it I can definitely recommend you to turn them on. It makes this area so much more fun and immersive to look at. I love just going around the airport to look at all the details. The airport also comes with fully operational jetways, which are very detailed and is very nice. It’s a bit of a shame there isn’t any support for SODE jetways with the large fleet of 777s and 747s that often visit Schiphol. It would have been particularly nice to have dual jetway support for these large aircraft.
Another feature I want to touch upon is the AFCAD customisation. The configurator gives you four options for wind directions. Selecting these will change the operations on Schiphol and will affect AI landing and takeoff runways, as well as ATC assignments for your aircraft. Although it is nice to have this option and I understand the necessity of it, it’s a bit of a shame that the explanation for the different configurations has to be found on the forums. Selecting a certain wind direction doesn’t immediately make it clear and obvious which runways will be in use, especially since Schiphol has so many with runways going to and from every direction. However, FlyTampa have done their best to replicate real life runway operations for every wind direction and from what I’ve seen thus far, they have managed to do a pretty decent job with that.
Lets talk about lighting. Because wow! Schiphol looks really impressive by night. The entire airport is lit in the lights from the many spot and street lights that you’ll find on Schiphol. You’ll easily get lost in the sea of taxiway lights, but it does look incredibly beautiful. And the runway lighting looks really amazing as well. FlyTampa have also created special lighting for the surrounding area and this looks great as well. Particularly Amsterdam looks really nice in the distance by night. The lighting in and around Schiphol is really on point.
There is however one thing that bothers me about this scenery. FlyTampa have chosen to also make the city of Amsterdam with a lot of custom autogen. This removes all the custom buildings that were already there. Amsterdam has a lot of recognisable landmarks that can be seen on approach. I’m talking about the central station, national museum, Dam Square, the Royal Palace, the Olympic stadium and the Amsterdam ArenA. People that are familiar with the surroundings of Schiphol will definitely miss these landmarks and that’s a real shame.
The value of this scenery is hard to estimate. FlyTampa have done an amazing job at creating a very vibrant, realistic and unique feeling and you’ll feel right at home at Schiphol. Everything looks the way it should up to the smallest details (such as the bus company that leave from the front of the airport). However, people flying rather taxing (on your system) jets may want to turn down their settings a bit to prevent crashes and increase overall stability, taking away a little of that amazing detail FlyTampa have put into this. There are quite a few bugs with the scenery as well. They’re mostly small, but if you pay closer attention you’ll definitely notice them. There are various topics on the forums with fixes for these bugs until FlyTampa come with a version 1.1. There are also a few other downloads on this forum, such as LD and HD textures, AFCAD fixes for GSX and more. Although this is great that these files are available to make your experience better, people that don’t visit the forums will not be able to get these fixes and will miss some vital explanations (e.g, the wind direction AFCADs I was talking about earlier).