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FTX: Southampton International Airport
For FSX/P3D Published by Orbx
Reviewed by Joe Lawford
October 2013


Southampton Airport is Orbx's first foray into bigger airports for their EU scenery area, indeed, this is the first airfield in this region classed as NGX compatible. This release from Orbx is welcomed by GA/VFR and airliner/IFR pilots alike, it comes not long after the release of the Majestic the Dash-8 Q400 airliner, which in Flybe livery accounts for a major part of Southampton's commercial airliner traffic.

This airport scenery marks the Orbx debut of talented German developers Lars Pinkenburg and Martin Pahnev, otherwise known as 29Palms. (Skiathos X, Mykonos X) Their undeniable creative talent has now been boosted with the availability of Orbx's "Flow" technologies and scenery tools.

Location & History

Southampton International Airport is situated in central southern England about four miles northeast from the centre of Southampton, also known as the cruise capital of the UK. Besides the port, the airport has direct links to the rail and motorway network so makes an ideal commuter hub.

In 2010, Southampton International Airport (ICAO: EGHI) celebrated 100 years of flying history. The first flight was made by an aircraft, named Moonbeam 2, and was flown by local man Eric Rowland Moon. Later that decade, in 1914, the airport staged an airshow to an audience of over 10,000 people!

Sculpture of K5054 by Alan Manning, ironically funded by a famous German motor manufacturer (Guess which one?!)

The airport's most famous inhabitant was R.J Mitchell, the designer of the Spitfire. At 4.35pm on the 5th March 1936, Vickers Supermarine chief test pilot Capt. J. 'Mutt' Summers' raised the Spitfire (Serial K5054) into the air at Southampton. A memorial statue of this aircraft greets passengers at the entrance to the airfield. 

Today, passenger numbers total around 1.69M (2012) and airlines serving the airport include Air France, Eastern Airways, Blue islands, Aurigny and Flybe.
Availability and Installation

Presently, the download is available from all licensed Orbx distributors, most noticeably As usual the download speed from the FSS servers administered by jay kae was blisteringly fast and near on 937Mb of data was delivered in a couple of minutes.

Installation using their familiar online activation system is easy enough, and the scenery is activated in your scenery library, ready-to-go. Users who have the England scenery pack installed should ensure that FTX Global is to to Europe before flying.


The installer also places a link to a pdf document on your desk top. Orbx's manuals have always been detailed and most of all useful when setting up their scenery. There are suggestions for display settings in FSX grouped by machine speed and is a good place to start if you have not used Orbx scenery before.

The manual  also includes an aerodrome chart along with a link to download more, unfortunately, for me, the URL link from the pdf does not work, if you should find the same problem then here is the link that does work for me!


Scenery Coverage

 As you can see from the image to the right (Click to enlarge), the boundaries of the scenery stretch way past the airport environs.

To the north are the train sheds of Eastleigh train works, to the east there is a nature reserve, to the south, is the start of the urban sprawl that makes up the outer edges of the city of Southampton.

Just south of the M27 motorway is the old Ford Transit van factory which only closed this year (2013). The Ford factory site was originally the Cunliffe Owen shadow aircraft factory which built Spitfire's in WWII. Finally, to the west is the airport train station and the town of Eastleigh further north along with another train station serving the town.

Having such a large overlap really helps the scenery blend into the background layers, making it difficult to know that you have reached the boundary and are flying in FTX England.

The scenery is totally seasonal aware, including a hard winter season for January, this is one of the benefits of using FTX, you won't be sat in fields of white when the scenery all around remains in permanent summer.
Click to enlarge
Level of Detail

This scenery features 6 of Orbx's "Flow" technologies. StaticFlow brings us very highly detail static aircraft along with a new aircraft for the library, the Embraer ERJ170 (E70); ObjectFlow determines what is displayed based on season, time and environmental factors; TextureFlow is the technology that allows Orbx to compile and optimise textures that increase the FPS;

places static and animated people around the airport. These people also interact with the objects, you will see people working on engines, loading baggage and polishing aircraft; VehicleFlow allows vehicles such as trucks and trains follow pre-determined routes also to follow contours such as car park ramps. Finally, NatureFlow which brings us dense 3D grass and clumps of grass.

Most of these features can be switched via a control panel accessible through FTX Central.

Quality of Buildings


Another one of Orbx's "trademarks" are accurate and detailed buildings, both day and night. The custom made buildings for Southampton airport are nothing short of superb. They are very diverse in their shape and use, we have the terminal building, which is a reasonably new design; It's a glass, steel and concrete modular design building with a curved roof that undulates. That's a pretty tall order for a scenery developer to emulate, here is the architects impression.
And here's how it looks in FSX from Orbx.

Along the line of the apron is the terminal short-stay car park that is not only full of static vehicles, but also features cars moving up the ramps between floors, also, the ubiquitous aircraft spotter can be found on the top floor scanning the horizon along with his partner "Puffing Betty"!

Next up is the fairly unexciting looking control tower, but is modelled just the way it is in real life. The CT adjoins the fire station which owns a couple of state of the art emergency vehicles at over £500,000 each, but they are safely locked inside. We are treated to an emergency pick up truck parked outside along with some others parked near the terminal building and there is one other making the rounds around the airfield.

Main terminal car park

ATC Tower, fire station and maintenance hangars

Xclusivejet hangar

Northern Apron

Further on are a couple of huge hangars (33,000 sq foot) that are occupied by jet charter companies Xclusivejet and Signature flight support, the final hangar is a smaller cargo building with no signage.

The fuel farm is well presented with some large storage tanks and a couple of fuel bowsers. This is a static area that you won't spend much time looking at but it's well modelled nontheless The farm can deliver AVTUR JET A-1 and AVGAS 100LL.

There are several detailed objects around the field including NDB and VOR stations. At the southern end of the airfield are the ILS antennae serving the 20 approach and on the eastern edge a derelict building which is the fire and rescue training area. There were a couple of smaller structures in the southeast corner missing including a distinctive shed with red and white squares (Seen below).

Fuel Farm, NDB in the mid ground and VOR station in the distance

A look from the south

Main terminals curved roof

10cm Radar (Animated)

There is a lot of non-aviation commercial activity around the airport, a business park where many businesses from car dealers to hotels are modelled. You will instantly recognise the logos.

Adjoining the airport is Southampton Airport Parkway train station, it is  well illustrated along with a very old passenger foot bridge, and a newer under-cover walk way to the passenger terminal.

Southampton Airport Parkway Station

Old Ford Factory

I have already mentioned above, the many other buildings in the scenery coverage section. Again, these feature buildings are presented in a very detailed form. The train works north of the airfield give a great representation of what you fly over on approach to runway 20.

The secondary level custom buildings further away from the field are poor texturally but do not detract from the overall enjoyment of the scenery.

The train sheds and works

"Beastly Eastleigh" as it is known locally

One notable omission is a huge multi-story car park that caters for 575 cars on the site of the old car park next to the railway station. However this is a very new development and can only be seen in Google Earth at street level so may not have even existed when Lars started this project.

I came across a couple of limitations in the scenery, I won't call them errors as possibly the small scale didn't warrant the extra work. Firstly, the motorway that runs south of the airfield sits in a cutting about 5 metres lower than the runway elevation. In the sim, when you are back-tracking for 02 you see the traffic whizzing past when in reality you don't, it makes the road very prominent being at the same elevation as the runway.

Real world (© Google)

Roughly the same position in the sim

Secondly, the approach lighting for 02 is incorrect, it should be a centre line with one cross bar, what you get is two bars and too many centre line poles, it looks odd to have a centre line lamp in the middle of the motorway (albeit in the central reservation) and a cross bar just before the threshold as they are not there in real life. Again, I imagine that a default approach light pattern, like "Calvert" was used rather than custom modelling the pattern separately, no big deal but being local I noticed it straight away!


FTX EGHI Southampton is packed with animations both airside and landside, probably the most I have ever seen in any Orbx product. Everywhere you look there is movement. A fire truck makes a long journey from the fuel farm to almost halfway down the runway on the east side, it bumps along with a trail of dust behind. Other vehicles include moving cars in the multi-story car park moving between floors on ramps.

The regular trains stops here

Forlorn baggage handler

The spotter and his girlfriend "Puffing Betty"

Polishing the new jet

Private jet, Land Rover on Apron, and a dodgy looking character? No, it's not JV!

Lots of maintenance going on

On the apron there are many animated and static people that bring the airfield alive, even when there are no aircraft movements. From the baggage handler loading suitcases onto a moving ramp to the engineers working on GA aircraft and sweeping the apron, there really is so much to get out of your cockpit for to look at.

As if the airport animations were not enough, there are trains running alongside the airfield and stopping outside both the Airport and the station at Eastleigh, when you are flying in to runway 20 its great to see them running along side and if you are really lucky you will pass over a steam locomotive belching smoke on late final.

I hope you packed your bag well

Passengers waiting, being photographed by the spotter

Servisair guys having a barney

More conversations

Somebody is going to fly Eastern!

Happy passengers waiting for the bus

I don't think the addition of animation has had such a positive effect with the realism thus far on an Orbx product.


A nice change to the scenery at both at the airport and surrounding areas happens with the change of season. As I mentioned above, there are 5 seasons including hard winter, you can see their effect below.





Hard Winter


These seasons totally change the feel of the airport from a lively warm place in the summer to a cold un-welcoming place in the winter.  One "Flow" that is not featured here is "SnowFlow" but you can't have everything!


Very, very surprising to me was the performance. From reading the features above you would think the sim would lapse into a slide show, no where near dear reader! The smoothness can be retained with scenery detail set high. I don't get hung up with FPS, my rig will spurt the frames out in their hundreds if I let it, but using a limit of 30 and nVidia Inspector set to half screen refresh the results were very impressive. On occasion, with tight turns or panning around I did see a drop in frames to high teens, but only momentarily

It is always best start at a medium display setting and step up gradually, you should be pleasantly surprised with the performance too.

Value for Money

At the time of writing, FlightSimStore are selling the scenery for AUD 32.95 / USD 31.20 / EUR 23.00 or GBP 19.52. So, much the same price, if not a little cheaper than comparative products from other developers.

For me, I would have paid double the price as it is my home airport but happy not to have to.


This is one of, if not the best of Orbx's larger airport releases. Visually superb, both the textures and the animations will not disappoint you, however high your expectations!

Taking into account the couple of problems listed above, to me, cost it half a point in the Level of Detail category but as the award says below, Outstanding!

 Verdict:   silver
• Scenery Coverage: 10/10
• Level of Detail: 9.5/10
• Quality of Buildings: 10/10
• Performance: 10/10
• Value for Money: 10/10
Mutley’s Hangar score of 9.9/10, "Outstanding" and a Mutley's Hangar Gold Award.