Aerosoft just released Bonaire Flamingo Airport (TNCB) for Microsoft Flight Simulator, opening another destination for those who love flying over the Caribbean.
TNCB isn’t a large hub, but due to its position on a beautiful island popular with tourists and surfers, it gets quite a lot of airliner traffic from major US carriers like American Airlines, Delta, and United.
Since it’s in the Caribbean Netherlands, it also sees intercontinental traffic from the motherland operated by KLM and TUI. Unlike many island destinations, most of the traffic comes year-round, making it a great base if you like tourist-filled flights regardless of the season.
Due to its mix of local, international, and intercontinental traffic, it offers good opportunities whether you enjoy short-range island hopping, medium 3-4 hours flights from the US, or long-haul trips from Europe.
If you’d like to see what the airport looks like in detail in Microsoft Flight Simulator, you can check out the in-depth flyover video above, showing every angle, weather, and lighting condition. On the other hand, the second video a VORDME approach to runway 10.
The scenery can be purchased in Aerosoft’s own store for €12.25. The price is the first (of many) pleasant surprises in this package, considering that many developers ask $20 or more for this kind of airport.
It comes with its own installer, so you won’t need to fiddle with finding folders and moving them around. It can also be updated via Aerosoft’s dedicated updater client.
The airport was created by veteran developer Jo Erlend Sund, and it certainly shows. The attention to detail and quality of the ground textures is fantastic, including runway, taxiways, aprons, and all of their markings.
Not only the textures are a precise reproduction of the real-life airport, but they also do a great job at portraying the different kinds of materials used for various repairs and repaving work over time. Markings are nicely weathered and don’t look at all cartoony while being clearly visible from the cockpit.
The same attention to detail went into the buildings including the terminal, the tower, the hangars, and more. They look beautiful with abundant use of physically-based-rendering to make the materials feel realistic, and even the rather iconic colors have been carefully reproduced.
The interior is mostly modeled in fantastic detail, which in this case is almost inevitable, considering that the main terminal isn’t really an enclosed space. Parallax shaders were used generously for those interior areas that couldn’t be fully modeled.
One of the elements that certainly set this airport aside from most is that it changes depending on the date of your flight. If you set the year to 2017 or earlier, you’ll see the old ATC tower that was recently torn down.
If you set the date to 2018 or later, the tower is gone, replaced by a small “in memory” memento on a bench. This kind of feature certainly speaks to the love and care that went into rendering this airport in Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Yet, that’s certainly not the only “special feature,” the animations are absolutely exceptional.
The apron displays a single static aircraft that passengers will board and then disembark, creating a lively scene that is quite unique in the MSFS scenery industry for now. This is topped by plenty of animated passengers inside the terminal and even in the parking area outside.
Further animations also include the flags both airside and landside. They actually change direction depending on the wind.
Perhaps the only small issue is that a Westjet 737 has been picked as the static aircraft, and its presence isn’t always accurate since it’s a seasonal flight. I would have picked one of the year-round flights from American or Dutch operators, but I’m definitely nitpicking here.
This kind of attention to detail and extra elements enriching the scene are just perfect for a smaller airport, adding plenty of value within the performance overhead granted by the compact size.
There is an appropriate amount of clutter completing the scene, and the developer also extended the handcrafted work beyond the (appropriately fenced) borders of the airport, modeling the surrounding neighborhood and improving it sensibly compared to the default autogen buildings.
The external buildings are a bit less detailed, but they’re far enough from the apron that they still do their job.
Nearly everything is fully functional, including the ATC, which will provide the correct guidance upon taxiing and the full lineup of ground services that you may need.
The only small nitpick is that one of the gates lacks a catering truck. Likely, one little box somewhere hasn’t been ticked, and this is likely very easy to fix, not to mention a very small issue.
Another, perhaps smaller showcase of quality is that the developer customized the parking arrangement of the functional ground vehicles around your aircraft, instead of just letting them spawn in default positions. It may be a small perk in the grand scheme of things, but you don’t see this often.
Night lighting is just spot-on, both for the airside and landside areas of the airport, and the texture work interacts perfectly well with wet conditions when the weather worsens.
Incidentally, the area is prone to sudden tropical squalls, and the simulator’s weather system seems to reproduce them very nicely.
The snow coverage is actually rather good, but it likely won’t get much use. It simply doesn’t snow in Bonaire.
Speaking of performance, the airport is impressively well optimized, especially considering all the bells and whistles and animations it features.
On my PC (RTX 3070, Ryzen 9 3900x, 32 GB RAM), I lose only about 5 frames-per-second at 1440p resolution and Ultra detail settings compared to the default scenery. You can see the difference below, and you’ll notice that it’s absolutely massive.
Every time I see an airport by Jo Erlend Sund, it feels like he managed to break new grounds in what is possible to do with the scenery in Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Aerosoft’s Bonaire Flamingo Airport may not be a big airport, but it’s exceptionally good and beautifully detailed, with many “extra” features included that contribute to creating a package that is very easy to recommend.
- Extremely detailed and accurate ground textures and markings.
- Beautifully-rendered terminal and buildings with a great interior.
- Fantastic animations.
- Great performance.
- Iconic old ATC tower included by tweaking the date.
- Very scenic destination.
- The buildings outside of the airport’s borders are less detailed.
February 23, 2021
Jo Erlend Sund
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