FTX AU YHBA Hervey Bay Airport
For FSX Published by Orbx Systems
Reviewed by Joe (“Mutley”) Lawford
February 2010

My final review of FTX AU airport scenery (For the time being!) is FTX AU YHBA Hervey Bay Airport.

This is another highly detailed airport that falls within the FTS AU Gold region pack. East coast flyers are really very well catered for with each of the airports reviewed either having innovative new features and/or exceptionally high quality textures.

So first off, let's see why Hervey Bay is a good choice of location.

Hervey Bay a.k.a the jewel in Queensland’s crown, is also known as the Whale Watch Capital of the World, was discovered by Captain James Cook in 1770. It is situated about a three and a half hour drive up the coast north from Brisbane and enjoys a wonderful subtropical climate. It is also not that far from the Great Barrier Reef Marine park and is a base for flights to the Eco Park there.

The airport (IATA: HVB, ICAO: YHBA) is situated about 10 minutes by car away from Hervey Bay Esplanade l a very high class, well known resort.

It has a single runway 11/29, 2000x30m (6560 x 98ft) with PAPI lighting at 55ft elevation. The new airport opened in 2005 and has a contemporary new terminal. The main airlines to use Hervey Bay are Jetstar, Virgin Blue and Qantas Link.

The Software
This is just a brief rundown or what we are to expect from Orbx, here are the advertised features-

Airport in 15cm/pixel Full autogen and water masking Click for full size image
Entire Hervey Bay Township 100km sq of photoreal imagery
Beautiful waterways, beaches and island Detailed Marina
Highly detailed airport industrial estate FTX Aero / Sound pack and Control Panel
Full GA AI included Aerodrome charts

Purchase is by download or limited edition dvd of the software. My copy came from the FlightSimStore.com although it is also available from PC Aviator SimWare and FSPilotshop.com

It's about a 480Mb download, as usual the FlightSimStore servers were dishing out the file at great rate but still l gave me time to make a coffee and relax! Actual installation is painless, I always install to the default location so there are never problems.

As with all their products, Orbx encourage you to go fly straight away which is what I did, first thoughts were wow, great frame rates, I wonder how good the detail is close up?

Setting up
Orbx are very good at giving sound advice on display settings. They know we don't all run super-computers and sometimes getting a balance of speed and quality is a compromise on lower-end PC's. I am fortunate to have a reasonable spec review machine, so I am hoping to see lots of detail with minimal cost.

Included in the download is the FTX Aero tool and the Hervey Bay Control Panel. I have been into these in detail in by Tamworth review but suffice to say you can upgrade your runway and taxiway textures as well as controlling what features will be displayed such as 3d grass and airport clutter and at what FPS cost.

It is important not to get blasé about your display settings and read the manual, you'll be glad you did. For example, one of the features of this scenery is the marina and esplanade, unless disabled via the display settings "ships & ferries" slider, the FSX will have those ugly default ferries trying to dock and generally giving you a bad time. There is advice about unnecessarily overloading the system with the highest water settings as it is just not needed.

Another good idea, is to get hold of a copy of FSX Go Tweak and Launch from Orbx. This will enable you to get the best you can from your machine and save it as a custom FSX.cfg file.

You can even override the default LOD_RADIUS and TEXTURE_MAX_LOAD automatically with this program (Payware, but well worth the money).

Flying in FTX
Having taken a mere 5 minutes (as that is all it takes) to ensure I am running with the recommended settings it is time to explore the various facets of this scenery. I'll be back in a day or so!

You still there? good! here's my PIREP.

Previously, I have always tried to demonstrate using a couple of shots what affect the scenery has on the default. This time I would like to illustrate what I call "Three steps to FS heaven"!

Three steps to FS heaven, the FTX way

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Click on shot to enlarge

Step 1:

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Step 2:
Install FTX AU region pack

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Step 3:
Top it off with a high res SP3 Airport pack!

I can't wait to get out there but an inspection of the airport is our first task.   For my scenery walkabouts, I use the Bob "aircraft" a free download from Orbx.

This will enable the scenery to be viewed in first person aspect and of course with no engine noise. Now I will be able to appreciate the ambient sounds that come with the audio enhancements and hotspots, great for sightseeing!

The terminal from outside is a very colourful affair with the airport sign publicising those three main carriers, Jet*, Virgin Blue and Qantas link. Also, the Lady Elliot Island Eco resort I mentioned earlier. Immediately you can tell this is a class product by the photo real crisp quality of the textures.

Heading off eastwards we pass a lot of real life clutter such as wheelie-bins, fences and barriers. There is plenty of nicely modelled airport clutter as well such as electric generators, cargo loaders and air stairs etc.  Bordering the main road and adjoining the airport are the flying schools and allied trades such as scenic tours. If you happen to passing the Hervey Bay Flying Club and had too much coffee this morning, sure enough the dunny is there for your convenience! The flying club has access airside though security gates, even the detail here is astonishing.

The all-important "dunny" to the rear of the Aero Club!

Once airside, the GA parking can be seen with quite a few static and AI aircraft. All along this side of the airfield are the big industrial sheds with good looking name boards that are clear and easy to read. This easy to read feature is true of all but the tiniest of signs, this just makes you want to explore more. Attention to detail is a watch word of Orbx and this shows just why.

Carrying on further east past the animated windsock you eventually get to the threshold of runway 29. The improved bump mapping and runway textures provided with FTX Aero can clearly be seen. The turning radius guides for the big jets are just right, as you would expect them to be.

From here I followed the boundary fence for several miles on the southern side briefly heading off left and back again. The remaining fencing is unremarkable with no buildings until we get back to the apron.

The apron has some very nicely modelled baggage trolleys and a Qantas tug all in HD detail.

Moving away from the airport there are a few industrial parks. These have plenty of features including small industrial units, Microwave transmitters, telegraph poles and street lights. I wasn't keen flying over the waste water treatment farm but hey, this is as real as it gets! Seriously though, that's just typical of the detail you will discover here.

The residential areas are what I would regard pretty standard FTX presentation. Streets full of multi-coloured rooftops of buildings that I would say are slightly too big for their plots. There are lots of unusual buildings too which break up the monotony of street upon street. It is easily seen however that these streets are following the real-life layout dictated by the photo scenery.  The town is scattered with areas of interest that just have to be explored with areas of woods and grassed areas , all lined with trees. A combination of photoscenery accuracy and FTX quality.

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I headed off towards the shore on the east coast facing Fraser Island. I stopped for a while to listen to the sea and the birdsong, and just to take in the view, just amazing!

My next destination was the Esplanade and harbour area. The area is littered with many marine themed buildings with boats on dry land being repainted etc. There is a big central car park where even some of the cars have boat-trailers. You will also come across tents and caravans, this gives the place a real holiday feel.

Moving onto the esplanade you will find many animated characters, most of them are the ubiquitous FSX models but they are used to good effect especially the guy leaning against the whale statue. There are shops and bars with a lighthouse being the main feature atop the Hervey Bay Boat club. The skill of the modelling here is apparent, 100% custom designed, bespoke scenery.

Now, if you wanted to fly here rather than walk you could take to a helicopter and try your luck at the landable helipad in the harbour. This is great fun but I found myself looking at the scenery rather than concentrating on the job in hand so had a few near misses with the sea! The Harbour is full of boats along all the pontoons, it really looks to be thriving.

To the northern end of the harbour are some very attractive looking real-estate apartments with great sea views. Slightly further around the coast is a pier which comes alive at dust and dawn with the FTX 3d lighting.

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Whilst here, and being the Whale Capital of the world, you must venture out towards the small island half way on route to Fraser island, you should catch sight of a couple of Killers messing around in the water to an appreciative audience on the "Spirit of Hervey Bay" a boat anchored nearby. When they jump out of the water an appropriate splash sound is played.

Having spent literally hours on walkabout it's time to head off.  So back to YHBA for my flight home.  With all the action and excitement of the scenery you will want to come back, soon!

This is another area where Orbx take care to address rather than ignore. John and his him have really done their best to make the textures as efficient as possible. You will definitely notice your machine is capable of more than you thought possible so long as you follow the advice in the manual.

Future Updates
We had some valuable feed back from Orbx, to quote John Venema "We are releasing a new version of ORBXLIBS in the next week which substantially improves performance at all our airports including YHBA. Using the ORBXLIBS method, it's an easy way for us to add new features and performance improvements to our products, without needing users to re-download whole airports, and at the same time it's usually only a ~20MB download.

We are also updating YHBA with our new TextureFlow tech, which will increase the performance of the airport even further, so stay tuned!"

You can see why this scenery series is taking the FSX scenery world by storm.  

What's not to like? Top notch detail, graphics and performance.  For the low and slow and bush pilot there is so much to explore. I am sure little-by-little more people are being converted from tube-liners to the exiting world that Orbx are creating for us propeller heads!

I am really impressed with Hervey Bay, in-fact all of the FTX airfields, they are so different from each other so must have been chosen with care for their individual features.

Yet again, I find myself awarding a FTX title a Mutley's Hangar score of 9.5/10

Watch out NW America, FTX are coming!

/Joe Lawford

      System Requirements
  • Flight Simulator X (Acceleration or FSX SP2 required) /
  • Windows XP / Vista / Windows7 with the latest Service Packs
  • Pentium 2 GHz (Duo2Core Intel or equivalent advised)
  • 1 Gb (2 Gb recommended)
  • 512Mb graphic card