FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport
For FSX / Prepar3D Published by Orbx
Reviewed by Andrew Godden
July 2014


For some, flight simming is about pushing large metal tubes through the sky at 30,000+ ft, while others enjoy the turboprop experience from 15,000+ ft. For both, it is about flying into and out of the regional and large airports which support those aircraft operations and overflying country oft seen but rarely visited. Orbx continue to develop airport scenery add-ons to cater to a broad variety of flight simming tastes, but one of their latest releases is focused on country oft seen but rarely visited.

FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport is another beautiful complement to the Orbx Pacific Northwest region and the existing range of Orbx airports in the region. Gordon Madison, one of the more recent talented additions to the Orbx development team, has created FTX: CA CYSE with a focus on detail and features to capture the beauty of this amazing area.


Squamish is located in British Columbia, at the northern end of Howe Sound, on the Sea-to-Sky Highway between Vancouver and the ski resort town of Whistler. The town had its beginning during the construction of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway in the 1910s and remains important in the operations of the line (now a part of CN) as a southern terminus and the port terminal. Forestry was traditionally the main industry in the area until 2006. In recent years, Squamish has become popular with Vancouver and Whistler residents' escaping the increased cost of living in those places, both being less than one hour away by highway. Tourism is an increasingly important part of the town's economy, with an emphasis on outdoor recreation, and Squamish has come to be known as the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada.

Squamish Airport is a small local airport located near the confluence of the Squamish and Cheakamus Rivers at the northern end of the town. With its single runway, it is home to a range of fixed and rotary wing, general aviation, charter, and training operations.

Availability and Installation

FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport is available from The FlightSim Store as a 'download only' product (a master back-up DVD service is also available for a minor additional cost). It is priced at AUD$32.95, or the equivalent on currency cross rates. The file size of 603.81MB is reasonable considering the detail and quality of the scenery and a key code is issued and used during installation.

The installation process is easy and intuitive and the scenery installs seamlessly as part of the FTX: NA Pacific Northwest region product (or FTX: NA Blue) and the FTX Central application. As with any Orbx product, it is highly recommended that after installing the product, you install or reinstall the latest version of the Orbx Scenery Libraries (ORBXLIBS).

Scenery Coverage

The area of coverage provided by FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport measures approximately 85 sq mi (220 sq km), and includes the township of Squamish north to the Cheakamus River and the top northern section of Howe Sound. Most of the major features and buildings in the area are included and FTX: CA CYSE comes with a range of the latest Orbx Audio and 'Flow' technologies.

Coverage Area

Squamish Airport

Level of Detail

Described as a "Sim within a sim.", for level of detail, FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport is excellent. With 560 hand build models over the coverage area, including over 250 custom models created specifically for FTX: CA CYSE, and hand annotated vegetation, the airport and township of Squamish come to life. Additionally, FTX: CA CYSE features multiple environments. These fully developed environments each have their own library of scenery objects and hand annotated vegetation, and various features associated with them can be enabled / disabled in the CYSE Control Panel. Some attention to the section in the supplied manual and the CYSE Control Panel is necessary to fully understand the impact of this multiple environment feature.

Whilst I appreciate and applaud the concept, and found the level of detail associated with this multiple environment approach incredible, it left me wondering effectively how much use the average user would make of it. Considering the potential performance impact if everything is enabled, you could have to specifically configure the environment features with each FSX session, depending on the flying you intend doing in the coverage area.

Airport. Around the airport precinct, FTX: CA CYSE displays the trademark accuracy and exceptionally high level of attention to detail. Replete with object detail in both animated and static scenery, you really have to 'walk around' the airport to fully appreciate the subtleties. There is the usual range of static aircraft, operations areas, refuelling points, hangars, and ground vehicles. Animated scenery includes people engaged in a range of different activities, deer emerging from the trees on the western side of the runway and meandering around the runway edge at dawn and dusk, and the odd squirrel running around the grassed area adjacent to the ramp outside the Glacier Air hangar. Signage is another example of the obvious detail and accuracy, with accurately portrayed airport signage indicating the location of various airport operations and services. Whilst you may never see some of these intricacies when flying in and out of Squamish Airport, their mere incorporation in the product is a mark of superior detail and something which sets Orbx products above others. The developer has also shown some artistic licence by adding an ILS to the Runway 15 approach which does not exist in the real world. This expands the airport's operations for those who wish to fly into the area under less than favourable conditions and all year round. However, beware, as there are no PAPI lights associated with the facility.

Airport Entrance

GA Ramp Area

Glacier Air

Inside the Glacier Air Hangar

Squirrel Crossing

Deer at Dawn

Town. Around the town of Squamish, most of the major buildings are depicted with custom made models. In addition to the airport, the Quest University campus is a centrepiece of detail and accuracy. Depicted with highly detailed, custom made models, it is an excellent example of the effort which has gone into the development of FTX: CA CYSE. The Squamish General Hospital, Capilano University, Capilano College, schools, and major shopping centres are also depicted in reasonably high detail. In other areas, models depict various churches, resort style apartments, and industrial areas to a lesser degree of detail but are still representative of real world buildings. The railway yard is also depicted with a range of rolling stock and the electricity sub-station to the north of the airport is also highly detailed. All said, a review of these features using Google Earth and the 'Street View' feature confirmed the representation, placement, and alignment of these to be, generally, quite accurate.

Quest University

Don Ross Secondary School

Shopping Centres


Power Sub-Station

Railway Bridge

Port and Waterfront. The port and general waterfront dock areas are another area which has had some special attention as part of the multiple environment approach and is represented with a high degree of detail. This ranges from the large warehouses, ship, shipping containers, and railway rolling stock at the terminal port, to the variety of motor yachts, fishing trawlers, yachts, and general pleasure craft in the marina and other general dock areas. The marina and general dock area, alone, provide an atmosphere of activity. The Squamish River is a living environment which includes dynamic water colour changes with the seasons and also supports boating, but with some care necessary.

Terminal Port with Water Runway in the Background


Additional Aircraft Operations Areas. The waterfront boasts additional areas for floatplane and helicopter operations with a floatplane facility north of the general marina area, and various helipads, including at the floatplane facility, the terminal port facility, and on the ship. There is also a helipad at the hospital. The helipads at the terminal port facility and hospital are depicted in their real world locations. Again, some artistic licence has been shown by the developer here with the depiction of the floatplane facility, and associated helipad, in order to further expand the richness and use of the scenery. A word of warning! Care must be taken when taxing a floatplane out to the water runway in order to avoid a damaging collision with harbour dolphins.

Floatplane Facility

Terminal Port Helipads

Seasons. Squamish area is a beautiful area of rich seasonal variations and FTX: CA CYSE comes with a range of seasonal textures which add dynamic seasonal life to the scenery when flying in the region at different times of the year. The developer has done a marvellous job in representing these variations. It is a joy, and depending on the weather, sometimes an extra special experience, to fly into Squamish Airport or the surrounding helipads. The wind, particularly, can be tricky across Howe Sound.




Hard Winter


Sounds. When reviewing a product such as FTX: CA CYSE, my choice of aircraft is critical in experiencing the full depth of the scenery detail. This could not be more pertinent than in relation to experiencing the sounds incorporated into the scenery. Simply moving around the airport precinct there are so many subtle sounds to be experienced, such as, mobile phones ringing, people having conversations, and nature sounds, to name a few. Likewise, in other parts of the scenery, this same level of subtlety exists. For those who enjoy this level of detail, an ultralight or similar aircraft is the best way to experience these features.

Night Lighting. Again, aircraft choice is critical to fully experiencing the night lighting effects. As with other Orbx products, the night lighting effects are excellent and provide an amazing atmosphere for night flying. Airport lighting, and lighting at the various helipads provide fantastic opportunities to explore this scenery under various low light or night conditions.

Refuelling Point at Night

Glacier Hangar at Night - Note the Doors have been Closed

There were a few minor issues I encountered. In some instances, such as the hospital, I found the detail a little too generic in nature, whereas in others, there were instances where buildings were not accurately depicted, in particular, some buildings were incorrectly depicted as churches. The 'Virgin Blue' tug tractor at the airport is clearly the result of using library objects developed for other areas and the signage on some static aircraft and vehicle models was incorrectly reversed. Whilst the sounds add to the background ambience, hearing aircraft sounds when there are no AI aircraft operating, either on the ground or in the air, is distracting.

The above issues aside, and after spending quite a few hours exploring this product, I can honestly say, in developing this scenery, Gordon Madison has delivered a level of detail in FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport which provides an incredible immersion factor and which can be tailored to the individual desires of the user. The detail is such that I have been able to appreciate the town and outdoor wilderness of this beautiful area from my computer. The combination of the resolution of the photorealistic scenery, and the accurate placement of the detailed custom building models, meant I was able to physically identify individual geographical features, streets, and buildings. This level of accuracy and detail easily facilitates VFR navigation for those who enjoy that type of flying.

Quality of Buildings

Overall, the quality of individual buildings, particularly around the airport precinct, is incredible. A comparative review of images from FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport, Google Earth, and images researched on the internet clearly demonstrated the incredible level of quality in the models.

The buildings are not simply just a representation of the structure, their quality displays fine, accurate intricacies which can only be appreciated by taking a close look. When exploring around the town, again, the Quest University campus is another excellent example of building quality. The floatplane operations facility and its associated helipad is another little gem in this myriad of quality.

Black Tusk Helicopters

Blackcomb Aviation

General Building

Again, there were some issues I encountered. The most significant of these was the quality of the building depicting the Squamish Adventure Centre. This is a prominent, iconic, and unique building on the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Unique in its design, the representation of this in FTX: CA CYSE is a major disappointment and is considered to be an opportunity missed by the developer. In other instances, such as the hospital, I found the quality of the models to be a little too generic, to the point of being more industrial looking. In some respects, my above comments could be seen as being hypercritical, but this is only due to the high expectations Orbx have created with their products.

Squamish Adventure Centre

Not Quite the Same


As part of the installation, a 48 page User Guide is provided in Adobe Acrobat format (.pdf) and is accessible from the FTX Central application. Other than providing an detailed overview of the FTX: CA CYSE, it also provides comprehensive information on the following:
    ● Squamish Airport;
    ● surrounding NAVAIDs and the direction to surrounding airports;
    ● manual scenery library configuration;
    ● CYSE Control Panel
    ● quick reference FSX settings;
    ● recommended FSX slider scenery settings; and
    ● autogen density slider settings.


I must state upfront, in conducting this review, I enabled all the features in the CYSE Control Panel.

Having said that, FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport performed reasonably within the existing settings I have in FSX. I have my frame rate locked at 30 frames per second with most of my settings set high to very high. Whilst I did not need to make any adjustments to compensate for performance issues, there was quite a discernable impact on frame rate performance. However, as I said, this was with all the features enabled in the CYSE Control Panel. Of course, this is also system dependent and paying heed to the relevant sections in the User Manual should avoid any disappointment and provide optimum performance for your particular system.

Value for Money

On the Value for Money assessment, FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport is considered very good. Whilst the cost could be considered slightly high, the coverage and its geographical location to other airports in the associated FTX region and airport series is excellent. Overall, it provides a fantastic base for flights to and from this great local airport and if this suits the type of flying you do, then FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport is a scenery add-on you will want to have, and you will not be disappointed.

Technical Requirements

With the exception of requiring FTX: NA Pacific Northwest (or FTX: NA Blue) installed, there are no other stated, specific system technical requirements, other than a system capable of running FSX. The FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport User Manual provides some excellent advice on the various scenery slider settings and CYSE Control Panel settings which will maximise the performance of the software and FSX for a range of hardware specifications. Whilst FTX: CA CYSE can be installed without the abovementioned FTX region products, there are limitations with such installations.

Review Computer Specifications

The specifications of the computer on which the review was conducted are as follows:
    ● Intel i7 990X Extreme, 3.46GHz;
    ● NVidia GTX580, 1536MB graphics;
    ● 12GB Kingston DDR3, 2000MHz;
    ● Windows 7, (64bit);
    ● Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX Acceleration; and
    ● additional major add-ons include: Active Sky Next, REX Essential Plus Overdrive; Ultimate Traffic 2; Orbx FTX Global BASE;
       Orbx FTX Global VECTOR; Orbx FTX Global openLC EU; Orbx FTX region series; and Orbx FTX airport series.


Orbx FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport is an excellent scenery add-on, rich in detail and quality. Whilst I can appreciate and applaud the new level of detail of a multiple environment product, in some respects, and for an area such as that covered by FTX: CA CYSE, I cannot help but think the extent of the detail starts to go beyond the reasonable limits of the average user.

Nonetheless, Gordon Madison has delivered a level of detail in FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport which provides an incredible immersion factor which can be tailored to the individual desires of the user. It is a fantastic scenery add-on which beautifully complements existing airports in the FTX: NA Pacific Northwest region and FTX airport series and provides a fantastic focal point for flights. For anyone who flies in this region regularly or is simply a fan of Orbx products, FTX: CA CYSE will be an addition to your scenery you will enjoy having.

Simply Idyllic

Verdict and Rating

Another solid product from Orbx, FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport displays a new level of detail to complement the usual high quality of other products in the Orbx offering.

High quality.
Excellent level and attention to detail.
Comprehensive and thorough documentation.
Reasonable value for money.

Missed opportunity with the modelling of a unique, iconic building.
Minor issues of detail and quality with some buildings.

Scores: Award
   ● Scenery Coverage: 10/10
   ● Level of Detail: 9.0/10
   ● Quality of Buildings: 9.0/10
   ● Documentation: 10/10
   ● Performance: 8.5/10
   ● Value for Money: 9.5/10

Orbx FTX: CA CYSE Squamish Airport is awarded a Mutley’s Hangar score of 9.3/10,
with a "Highly Recommended" and a Mutley's Hangar Silver Award.