Fsx Airport Scenery Designer

Fsx Airport Scenery Designer

Nov 01, 2016  In this tutorial, I show you the basics of designing an airport AFCAD in Airport Design Editor (ADE) for use in FSX and or P3D. The main purpose of this tutorial was to.

As we head into the tail-end of 2019, it’s been an incredible year so far for the FSX community. Every year, many new upgrades and improvements are brought out that improve replay value, game features or even the overall performance of the game itself. When this occurs, it’s up to every single player of the series to actually get involved and make sure that they have the finest selection available to them and at Fly Away Simulation, we have created the perfect collection of some of the finest scenery projects that have been released before 2019.

2018 was a very bright year for Microsoft Flight Simulator X, and the advancements such as new scenery files, aircraft and many other files created by freeware developers in 2018 reflect that perfectly.

There are more than 24,000 files available to download from Fly Away Simulation, and we are improving that library all the time. With so many items to pick from for our flight simmers, it’s no wonder that we are recognized as one of the largest FSX websites out there on the web!

With the 2013 (Steam) edition giving you, even more, ideas of extras that your FSX game just will not be the same without, why not make sure that your future on the series is going to be as enjoyable as possible?

It’s important that we can get the most out of our games, and especially when it comes to FSX this becomes even more possible. This guide will give you access to some of my personally selected top 20 freeware scenery files and enhancements that have been released for your own enjoyment.

Everything you find on this page has been hand-picked by myself to make sure that it covers all of the key features that we look for in every file. While these are not payware expansions, they are very good quality freeware packages created by developers in the flight simulation industry.

Some of the files listed below match the quality of payware. If you are looking for payware quality scenery enhancements for your copy of FSX, you can find those on SimShack. If you have any questions about the files in this list then please don’t hesitate to contact our support team and we can give you all the information that you need to make the right decision.

We have just updated our 2019 list of the best FSX/P3D photoreal scenery - check it out here.

If you are interested in making FSX look and appear more realistic (not just scenery add-ons) then check out our article here.

Because this article is quite lengthy (featuring 20 files), I have separated them up into subheadings that you can jump to using the links below:

Scenery Enhancements

Scenery Enhancements are a key part of expanding FSX, and it can make the world below you feel even more engrossing and enjoyable as you fly around. You can add in better detail to the world around you and extra forms of scenery like new trees and other extras that can totally alter the landscape that you fly across. If you are growing tired of the same old scenery that you see every time that you load up your simulator, then these simple downloads should help change that for you right away!

FSX Enhanced Trees

This unique scenery pack will totally re-design the trees within the game, using real photography as a basis for the designs. If you feel that the FSX engine does not capitalize on the graphical power of your machine and you want to have trees that look more realistic and have higher textures, then this is the package that you want to be downloading!

These photo-realistic designs give you trees that look great and have an incredibly high-resolution baseline behind them so that you have an authentic looking world around you as you fly around. Every tree species in the game has been modified and made to look far more like their actual realistic counterparts. If you want the world below to look as realistic as it can, then these chromatic designs are exactly what you should be looking for.

Airport Ground Texture Upgrade

This excellent addition makes perfect sense for those who want to enjoy a more realistic world around them. Ets knx crack fifa 10. This enhances your typical ground textures within airports and gives everything from the taxiways to the ground itself an entirely new look – something far more akin to what an airport would look like in real life.

It uses a mix of grass & rocks to create a realistic style of scenery within the airport and its surrounding areas. Make sure that every time you take off you are getting the best view that you possibly can as you hit the skies, and don’t give yourself the opportunity to miss out and stick with the same old designs! Don’t let the game grow stale for you and make sure that your own FSX experience is as authentic and well-designed as possible.

Water Effects Texture

One thing that you will be sure of when you are flying in FSX is that you will spend a lot of time over water. Unfortunately, on some machines the water can look quite unconvincing and low-quality, but with this package that problems quickly becomes something that you no longer need to worry about!

This provides you with a 512x512 resolution design on the water itself, that provide smaller waves and calmer oceans to create a much greater design than you are used to receiving with the game typically.

You can even alter the quality as you go throughout the game, using a variety of different installation options. This means that even lower quality machines can still get an improvement to the graphics capacity of the game without having to suffer from a lack of gameplay efficiency or quality. This is a must have download for any simmer of the series.

Shuttle Launch Scenery

This is a scenery add-on which has been included in the series as a whole new idea entirely. You can witness or be a part of a detailed and incredibly well designed Space Shuttle launch. It comes complete with a huge variety of accompanying sounds to help add to the atmosphere of the entire launch, and if you are looking to add more to your game than flying planes and seeing the same old this could be the ideal choice for you. You can fly into Cape Canaveral and witness the launch itself.

If you feel that the game could use more lifelike side-events taking place around you then this is the ideal place to get started. It gives you an extra edge of realism and excellent features to the overall area and can be the catalyst for making the game feel that extra bit more realistic, for those who feel that they are running out of new things to go and see within the game! This is perfect for the 'easter-egg' hunters.

Modified Terrain Textures

This is an addition to your terrain.cfg file that can totally alter the experience and style of the Flight Simulator X experience. It gives you all the help that you need to bring the game up to scratch and give you a better idea of what you should be looking for from a high-end flight simulator. Not only will these terrain alterations make the game run smoother but it will improve the overall look and style of the entire game! By making alterations where it can, the game will color your terrain in a more apparent manner so that the balance between the games design and real life is far closer.

Additionally, for those of you who like to do some designing of your own you can do just that with the help of this simple to install addition! This is the perfect solution for those who aren’t quite sure what they should be included or removed from the game, but think that the graphics could do with a little assistance!


As you can imagine, one of the most commonly downloaded and installed forms of an update for the FSX series is that of new airports. With upgrades added in to make them look more realistic or to add in new features that change how the game operates, you can really amplify your FSX experience this way. Give yourself more options and make the flight experience a little faster or a little easier with these graphical and logistical updates to the airports that you will find throughout the game. Wherever your favorite flights take off from, you will probably be able to find a realistic representation of it!

John F. Kennedy Airport

JFK Airport is one of the most important pieces of American flight history and has been used millions of times ever since it first opened. This is a systems-friendly update for the JFK airport and provides it with a realistic design, by utilizing real photographs of the airport itself to really add in the right detail and authentic features where they are needed most. Realism is very important in the simulator, and this representation of JFK airport brings all of the main features of the building to the forefront.

With new parking garages, unique warehouses, extra gates and other scenery improvements you can feel like you are in a far more alive version of the airport than the game traditionally allows. Be warned though, this add-on is quite heavy on the resources of your system so if you are playing on an older machine you might need to compromise on graphics quality to get a steady and fair frame rate when you are flying around. Runways have been increased and expansions added to give a proper scale & size to the airport itself.

Princess Juliana International Airport

The Princess Juliana International Airport is located in the Netherlands Antilles and for many years has been the primary entrance and exit point for the nation. It’s been created to fully represent the actual designs of the Juliana in real life and guarantees that all of the correct fittings and features have been added like runway numbers, parking slots, and lighting.

Every precaution has been taken to give the scenery and extras added in the best chance of being as close to the real thing as possible. If you want to get out of the traditional big name airports and enjoy something a little bit more rural, this could be the ideal choice. It’s easy to fly to and from in-game and gives you plenty of options of where to go once you take off!

This is the airport where you can perfect the famous St Maarten approach - where the landing path goes right over one of the most famous beaches in the world. You can watch an interesting video of a 747 landing here and also a video of the famous jet blast beach here.

LAX (Los Angeles International)

Los Angeles is, without a doubt, one of the most populous and regularly visited cities in the entire world. This scenery package is a complete re-build of the KLAX airport by using a wide array of different scenery creation tools and image sources to create a realistic representation of the airport. Utilizing a wealth of different features to add even more to the KLAX airport like the A380 parking spots, you can feel a genuine realistic approach paying off immediately.

With new, unique terminal buildings designed to give LA its own unique feel, the entire airport has been re-scaled to make you feel like you are landing at one of the truly awesome airports in the world. By using footage and data from Google satellite images, this remake of these famous airports carries all of the charm and style that you would hope to see from this type of project!

Barbados International

Grantley Adams International is one of the most popular airports in the region and is a complete remake of the original airport found within the game. by completely altering the stock & style of the airport itself, including its size & scale, you can really benefit from having a much more authentic design of the airport in your game if you regularly take off from here in real life. Making every attempt to use photo-realistic approaches to getting authenticity down perfectly, you can see the difference between new and old instantly. While some areas are simply impossible to add into the game due to engine limitations, everything that can be there has been added.

This airport has been running since the 1930s, and if you want to see the reasons for why it is so incredibly popular this is the best place to get started! Its friendly atmosphere has never been represented properly in the games before and now you can make sure that is the case today.

San Diego International

San Diego airport is extremely famous, and this total reworking of the area itself will give you something that looks far more like the real thing. By improving texture qualities and the overall positioning of different parts of the airport, you can feel a far more realistic representation of the airport when you load the game up. by utilizing Google satellite images to re-create the airport from a top-down view, this includes many bespoke designs that you simply won’t find in any other pack of the same style and size.

One of the main inclusions in this set, though, is the expansion of Terminal 2 that is set to be completed in 2013. This means that the garages and runways of the airport have also been totally modified so that they don’t look the same as every other airport that you fly into in the series!

Photoreal Scenery

Although the FSX series is highly regarded by anyone who has tried them out, they do lack a little bit of graphical prowess – at least in comparison to more modern titles. However, what it lacks in graphical strength can be changed by modders and this list of photorealistic scenery will provide your game with a whole new boost to the system. High-definition textures and a complete reworking of the system will make the graphics far more modern and realistic. Sound good? Then check these five brilliant packages out starting today!

The USA and Europe Photoreal Scenery (New Article)

New for 2019

We have crafted an article featuring some of the best photoreal scenery add-ons for FSX and Prepar3D. This article is up to date (2019). Included are various photoreal scenery packages as well as global mesh scenery. Featured in the article are many of the USA states such as Utah, California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, and Idaho. Also featured and available to download are many European countries including Cyprus, Albania, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Slovenia, Serbia and Malta.

All of the packages are complete photoreal package and are very large. The files may take several days to download in some cases but it is all dependant on the speed of your Internet connection. You may also benefit from our PRO membership subscription in order to download these files faster.

Also included in this article is the simply stunning FreeMeshX package which is global mesh scenery for FSX/P3D covering the entire globe. It adds detailed terrain mesh leveling and scenery to your flight sim package.

View the article here.

St. Louis

St. Louis is a vast, colorful place to live with many outstanding landmarks and historical aspects of the land that makes up the area. This package will help your FSX installation really do the area justice, by adding in numerous landmarks by providing you with more than 2GB of outstanding photography that’s been turned into textures.

Flying above the area will never better, with around 870 square miles of land covered in total. However, please be aware that this package will only work during the day in the game. Also, the majority of photographs used were taken from 2002 so if you can’t see any project updates in the area that have appeared since then, this may be why!

Mt. Fuji

One thing that many of the add-on packages for FSX do not undertake is extra scenery like mountains. While many prefer to concentrate on cities, this brilliant addition to the FSX game will re-create one of the world’s most notable mountains in Mt. Fuji (Japan) in stunning, high-definition detail that the original engine simply cannot get near.

Using a variety of HD photos that have been taken from above and around the mountain, you can get a complete representation of one of Asia’s biggest landmarks.

USA Ground Textures

The United States, as we all know, is absolutely massive. However, some of the parts of the game are under-represented and the textures can look rushed or poor, even sometimes completely inappropriate for the area in question. This 8-piece download kit will completely alter that, though.

Using various different images taken from all across the country, you can really bring the United States to life. get rid of those barren, boring textures that come within the game and make sure that your color palette as you fly over the States is as close to the real thing as it possibly can be!

Project Canary

Project Canary is an addon for FSX which provides you with a fully updated representation of the area. This fully updates a key part of the world in the Canary Islands to make them far more representative of what they really look like. Using a wide variety of images and sources, the islands look far more like their real selves with this texture pack and you can fully bring the region to life with this pack.

This is perfect for those who know the area well, as many modern landmarks are added in for even more positive recognition.

Mt Washington And The Presidential Range

Found in the White Mountains in New Hampshire, this is the highest peak in the whole of the North East. It’s a massive part of the world, and today stands as one of the genuine natural monuments within the whole of the Americas.

If you are looking to give Mt. Washington the respect and feeling that it deserves using the quality graphics made possible due to the FSX engine, this is the place to be! Fly over one of the biggest mountain ranges in the world with any plane of your choice and truly get to witness first-hand the immense detail put into this package.


Sometimes, it’s a little harder to define the packages that we use in FSX. Some of them are obviously scenery, and some are game additions that change how your planes are performing or how the cockpits look. These brilliant top-5 products are made to give you a better representation of parts of the game that aren’t brought up above, so make sure you check these five out – they give you far more balance in the game, and help to improve the visual aspect also.

Dubai X

The Dubai X scenery package is made up of around 65km of shoreline and is a photo scenery package that is made to fit the Gulf state perfectly. It works in both night and day, and also covers the shorelines to give them more depth and realism.


It covers the city of Dubai as well as the outer areas, so if you want to turn this Middle Eastern jewel into one of the most attractive parts of the game use this HD photo scenery package to do just that.


Lukla Scenery updates the entire Lukla area to bring it up to speed with some of the best mods out there. It adds new parking spots and housing estates, as well as hangars to the area.

It’s a high-quality representation of the area and if you are a local looking to make sure you get all the little details in there about the region, this is a good place to get started. Lukla was rated as one of the hardest places to land in the world - with a runway on a steep gradient and mountain ranges surrounding the airfield.

Kai Tak

Kai Tak is a Hong Kong airport and was closed in 1998 but is quite possibly one of the most famous airports because of its approach. It is one of the most famous aircraft approaches both in-game and in real life so if you are trying to master the Kai Tak landing methods this is a good place to get the practice.

With photo scenery used to include all of the extras you would want to see included, you can easily give yourself a life-like challenge to fully understand the entire area and make sure that your landings are going to be absolutely perfect!


This helps to improve the entire Iberian Peninsula with the exception of Portugal and creates a consistent and authentic scenery style throughout so you know just where you are flying above. It fixes coastlines and adds more depth & realism to the cities that make up Spain like Madrid & Barcelona.

This is perfect for anybody within this region who wants to experience their homeland in the FSX world properly.

Road Textures

Fitted with various textures for maximum exposure, this design is made up to improve highways and roads throughout the entire game. by altering the default textures, it improves the overall quality of the game so that every single piece of road or highway that you fly over is going to look absolutely stunning.

You can even choose unique textures from within the installation process to really make the game look exactly as you want it to.

Fourwindscamper 1994 36 ft

So there you have it, my 20 essential freeware scenery enhancements/packs for Microsoft Flight Simulator X. While the files I have selected for this edition (2017) are the top 20 (in my opinion), there are thousands more available to download from our dedicated FSX scenery section. You can also view all of our addon files for FSX here.

Thank you to all of the developers that have created these amazing files and provided them to the community free of charge. When downloading the files, it would be great if you could post a comment after downloading to let us know what you think of the file - this also provides other users with some information before they choose to download too.

Performance and Installation

Many of the files included above have detailed installation instructions included with the ZIP file after downloading, or the information will be provided on the download page. However, if you are having trouble getting them installed or problems after installation, you can view our installation help page here.

If you are having performance issues after installing any of these add-ons, you may benefit from reading our FSX performance tips and tweaks article over here. This will provide you information on how to speed up your FPS and other features. You don't even have to install these add-ons to benefit from reading the article - the tips and tweaks provided can be used on a stock FSX install.

I'd love to hear your comments below, please post! Also, if you wouldn't mind sharing the article with your flight sim friends using Facebook/Google+ by clicking on the 'Care to Share' icons below, that will be greatly appreciated.


Small Airports

I learned an awful lot while I was doing these airports and airstrips. And I had to. The topic is involved and you should have some competence with your computer if you want to start scenery design. It also helps to have a good machine which can run FSX, ADE and some other programs in parallel. Mine has 8GB of memory and an I7 processor at 3 GHz in boost mode. An SSD is strongly recommended.
What you will certainly need is a lot of patience and some time. You will need to start the simulator often just to check your results. After a while you will know what can be done and the checks will be less frequent. But initially there is a lot of trial and error.
This page should help you understand the principles behind the design of airports in FSX. It covers only the basics. Frankly, there is so much more to learn which I do not know and can tell you nothing about. At some point, scenery design becomes an art. My simple goal was to be able to do some airstrips and airports in the way I want them to be done. They should be flyable and look believable. And it should be possible to recognize the real thing in the simulated counterpart.
To test an airport you will have to start the simulator every time. By and by you might need to check less often. There is another trick that might work. You can load the plane into your airport, then position the plane to another continent with 'go to airport', e.g. to the KLAX airport. Then you can recompile. Now, reset your flight.

This is my main work horse. You find the software on this page. The group of programmers that gave us this software did a great job. It contains everything necessary to do simple airstrips, and most of what is necessary to create advanced airports. And it is free. Thanks for this! There is a pro key which is not needed, but recommended if only to support the programmers.

The Installation brings a problem which is described in detail in the manual. You need the SDK (Software Development Kit) for FSX from Microsoft. I am using the Steam version which should contain the SDK. But I had an old Gold version on DVD and installed it from the first DVD. Microsoft offers an update still. You will certainly find a way to install the SDK. The installation folder has to be published inside ADE. After that, BGL files containing scenery objects and descriptions can be generated out of the program.
Note that ADE creates airports. You can design the scenery around the airport to some extend. But for large sceneries other tools should be used. Here is what ADE can do:
  • Open stock airports, import airports from BGL, or create new airports.
  • Compile airports into BGL files for FSX or P3D.
  • Generate and modify runways together with ILS, PAPI and other navigation aids.
  • Design the layout of airports with its taxiways, including parking positions and jetways.
  • Exclude the elements and buildings of the stock airports, so that your airport replaces the previous airport.
  • Include generic buildings from a list of buildings and library objects such as towers, hangars, houses, light poles, vegetation, aircraft and vehicles, and much more.
  • Change land classes around the airport to a set of predefined landclasses, such as grass, forest, towns.
The list is not complete. Indeed, the program is a huge one. To start you really should begin with a small airstrip in nowhere land, and enhance it with some houses, static airplanes, parking positions, fences, vegetation and some roads for more realism. In the following, I will demonstrate this using the small airport near Schüren in Germany.

Starting with a Stock Airport

So open a stock airstrip (such ad EDKM, Meschede-Schüren) of your choice in the program. You can search for it in the dialog. You won't see very much at first.

This is just a runway, a so called fuel trigger, a tower position and a tower (the actual building). If you double click the runway you see that it is asphalt which is true. To see the real thing, you can go to Google Earth and search for 'Schuren airport'.

We could also look at the airport in FSX. Just place an airplane or the free BOB from Aerosoft (recommended because it loads faster) to runway 04 of EDKM, and select the top down view. If you plan to work on the airport, save this 'flight'. Of course, the result depends on the scenery you are using. I have Orbx Global, Vector and OpenLC Europe. If you have a photo realistic VFR scenery you will see something complete different. If you use the stock FSX scenery you will again see something different.

On my FSX, some roads and the river is there due to Global Vector. There is too much forest around the airport and a few farms are missing, as well as a complete neighborhood across the lake. How much of this you want to change is up to you. I am just pointing you into the direction to go. I cannot write a complete tutorial, partly due to my admitted ignorance in scenery design.
Fortunately, you can now use Google to search for images of the airport (search for Schüren airport and select images). That gives you a pretty good idea how the airport is supposed to look. Zooming in in Google Earth helps too, but images are way better. You can find a good image of the buildings at the airport on their web site.

A first Test

Now you could just go and add objects free handed into the loaded airport.
Since the old airport will be gone we need to make place first and exclude forest and other stuff. For this, we draw an airport background around the strip. The tool is named 'Add Polygon'. We do that very coarsely for our first try. Double click to end the polygon. In the dialog, select 'Airport Background' and 'Mask Class Exclude Autogen'. You can also use the 'Flatten' variation. But that shouldn't be necessary here. It might create some slopes at the boundaries of the polygon.

For the first try, I removed the old objects (the fuel trigger, the fuel station, the tower, and the tower place). I added a new tower from the library objects (Right click and 'Add Library Object'). To find towers in the dialog, enter 'tower' into the text box and search for this text. You should have installed the big thumbnail package to see a preview of the tower in the dialog. I also added a tower position. That refers to the tower view that is used by FSX. Now save the airport. You may wish to change the directory for this.
Now you need to compile the airport. If you just press compile and select the default settings the airport will go to 'Addon Scenery/Scenery' in the FSX folder. I would urge you to change because otherwise all compiled BGL files mix up in that directory. So create a new subdirectory 'Addon Scenery/EDKM_yourname/Scenery' and compile to this directory. You should now have a new subdirectory of 'Addon Scenery' named 'EDKM_yourname'. This directory contains a folder 'Scenery' (and for more complex airports a folder 'Texture').
You will then have to add 'EDKM_yourname' to the scenery library (which is not necessary with the default settings because 'Addon Scenery' is already added). You have to do that only once, of course.
  • Fire up FSX and go to the settings for the scenery library.
  • Select 'Add Area' and go to the 'EDKM_yourname' directory which contains the folder named 'Scenery'.
  • Press 'OK', and then press underneath the 'Scenery' folder into the free area of file dialog to close this dialog and start the scenery update. This is an old bug in FSX which is still present.
  • The airport should now be added to your sceneries. You can check this by opening the scenery list a second time.
  • Your users will have to do the same, of course. So tell them in a README.TXT file in your scenery folder.
If you then load the previous 'flight', you get a nice new 'airport'.

To see this from that viewpoint I used the 'slew mode' (key Y). Notice that the airport area is not flattened, because we did not use the 'Flatten' variation of the airport background. But that makes the grass area fit into the surrounding mountains better than the slopes that 'Flatten' would create. But it may cause grass on the runway. (You can lay an apron underneath the runway to prevent this.)

Selecting a Background Image

A background helps to position objects, taxiways, land classes and roads. It is not exported into the simulation. There are two possible sources for background images.
  1. You can use a screen dump of the spot view from FSX. This means you are designing the airport for your scenery. You might still wish to compare with Google Earth for realism. But you are using your layout of rivers, roads and land classes. If you have Global Vector and OpenLC this is actually not an inaccurate way of positioning, since these addons are very accurate.
  2. You can use an image from Google Earth. Just view at your airport from above and export the image with Alt-S. Make sure, you do not distort the view by looking at an angle (fix by dragging the right mouse button upwards).
Once you have the background, you need to load it into ADE and position it properly (Using 'Add Image', selecting the image and 'Position Image'). This is a bit tedious. Some do it with coordinates. But it is hard to get exact coordinates of the corners.
I prefer a visual control. This is done by slewing around in FSX, while ADE is connected to FSX. You can then see the current airplane position in ADE. You need to slew to known landmarks and place markers on the ADE screen (I use a crossed help lines for this as shown in the screendump below). Then you position the image so that the landmarks are met.
If you are using a screendump from FSX for the background image, it is no problem to slew to landmarks. But how do you position your airplane to the landmarks which are present in the Google image? You can either rely on exact landmarks in your Global Vector scenery. Or you can use a connected tablet or PC. There are apps that can display the point of your airplane on a Google map exactly. FSMovingMap is one example, and it is the one I use.
You can also just use the runway as a reference. But that is often not accurate enough. Runways may be too short, falsely positioned, or even in a slightly wrong direction.

In the example, I used three positions to align my background image (the curved road north east of the airport, the intersections west and east of the airport). It became clear that the runway is at the wrong position and needs to be fixed.

Designing the Airport

You can now start to add objects, aprons, taxiways, parking positions, land classes etc. to your airport. Here is the final result of my 'design'. It is nothing fancy, and uses only stock library objects and generic buildings which are available in ADE.

So, what is new here?
  • The runway has been moved to the correct position. I did not change anything else with the strip. It is possible to add VASI lights, ILS, center lights and more, but this is not for this small airport. You also need to move the takeoff positions at both ends of the runway.
  • The airport background is the light green area around the background as described above. I changed the outline somewhat, and I will explain below why. It is transparent so that I can see the image through it. Do this by selecting the background and pressing Shift-0 several times.
  • The darker green areas are landclasses. To generate those, select 'Landclass' instead of 'Airport Background'. I used three different landclasses, one conifer forest, one grass and one crop land.
  • The small gray and yellowish areas around the buildings are tarmacs of different kinds. Some are asphalt and others are clay. There is also a tarmac beneath the runway to make sure it is flat.
  • The blue buildings are generic buildings. The yellow buildings are a hangar and a house from the object library. There are some other library objects, a gas tank (positioned at -10m height so that is does not get too large) and a small tower, and there is a C185 plane from the library for decoration.
  • The green circles are two parking positions. These are connected to the runway center line (in black) by taxiways and apron links. The links are 10m width and have no lights and no markings. You need to edit them to get this. You can edit all taxi ways at once with the list tool.
  • The red line is a road (asphalt single lane divided).
  • Later I added two windsocks at each end of the runway.
This is all not really easy if you do it the first time, I know. But with a bit of patience and one day of trial and error (including some internet searches) you can manage.
Why did I make the landclasses and the airport background as above? After all, Google Earth suggest a different layout. The reason is that I want to fit this into my scenery. It turns out that the airport looks a lot better on my FSX if I use its scenery. For a check, I have put the screenshot from FSX as an image behind the airport. You can hide the other image (from Google Earth) and use the new screendump.

We already noticed that there is way more forest around the airport than in real life. So I added land class round the airport to cover the forest, and the strange roads and buildings that would otherwise spoil the view. First, let me show you the real view of the airport as seen in Google Earth.

You can see that there are hills around the airport and a lot of farm land. We could get this with more work. On the other hand, if we used a VFR photo scenery, we should probably remove our added land classes. For our purposes, we have to live with the Orbx scenery. Below is a result that I am quite satisfied with.

The airport itself looks nice too. In any case, it is now much more fun to fly to and from.


Since I want as many of you as possible to go into airport design I need to tell you how you can publish your airport. I have them on my Google Drive which is linked from this site (see the home page). You can download EDKM if you like from there.
But the usual way would be the AVSIM library. Setting up an account there is easy. But, please, upload the airport only after extensive testing. The guys there get so many uploads and do not like frequent updates.
To package your airport for the user, do the following:
  • Put a README.TXT into the folder 'Addon SceneryEDDK_yourname'. Explain as much as possible about the airport. And detail the installation procedure that the user needs to follow in order to activate the airport.
  • Add some screenshots from FSX to the folder.
  • Go to 'Addon Scenery' and send the folder 'EDDK_yourname' to a ZIP folder. A new archive with the same name will appear. Use this archive to publish the airport.


Of course, you could try to design buildings for your airport. You need a design program, an editor for textures, a model converter. The result can be added as a model to ADE. I really cannot go into that process. The easiest way is to use 'Sketchup for Google', but 'Blender' or 'GMax' are other choices. You import the results as models in ADE. But you also need to handle the textures.
You can try a larger airport. In this case, you might want to design generic buildings. This is possible with SBuilderX. But the details should be explained somewhere else.
If you liked this or have comments send an email via the address on the home page.

Large Airports

I want to teach you (or rather give you a good start) on how to design an airport. There are not many freeware airports that are accurate enough for online flights and at the same time frame rate friendly. Designing a larger airport takes about a day for me now. That is not much work. But I had a lot of trial and error to learn this. You get the satisfaction to have your own airport to fly to and from, and you may actually like to go into more details than I do. Note that I do not make photo realistic airports. That is a lot more work.

The Start

You start like with a small airport. I have explained there how to get a Google Earth image and align it with the airport. So I am not going to repeat that here. For the purpose of this page, I took Rostock Laage (ETNL). This airport a good starting point for VFR flying along the coast of the Baltic Sea. The Darß area and the Island of Rügen are very nice places to fly along. I plan to do some of the small airports there. The stock airport (Orbx Vector and OpenLC Europe) looks like this.

The next step is to align the Google Earth image properly to this.

You can see the markings I used to align the image with the airport. I did by connecting ADE with the simulator and checking my position in FSX with a connected Android tablet, just as described on the page about small airports. Clearly, there are several inexact taxiways and aprons. If you look close into Google Earth and the page of the Airport itself, you see that the main gates and the terminal building is completely missing. Here is a chart of the airport. Gates 12 to 16 are missing. In fact, in real life there are the gates 10, 12 and 16. The airport is under construction.

Just the Runway

Do not try to move the taxiways. It is faster to go for a fresh start. So I remove all taxi links, taxi points, aprons, generic and library buildings, taxi signs etc. to leave only the runway. You can also leave some library objects like radio towers if you like. But it is easy to add them later too. Do not remove NDB or VOR signals, however. And do not remove runways. You can use the lists to easily remove several things at once. You can then check the correct ILS frequencies. I had to turn the runway by 1/10 degree to make it fit closer to the real thing. If you adjust the runway adjust the start positions and the ILS placement accordingly.
The next thing is to make a big exclusion polygon (ground polygon of type 'exclude airport backgrounds'). This excludes existing flattening backgrounds even if they are larger than your background. Now outline your airport background (ground polygon of type flat mask). This will yield the grass area around the runways. Each apron and building you want to set should be on the background. If the area is not completely flat you will get a slope around your background. So consider this and do not lead the boundary through water bodies.
Finally, put a concrete apron under your runways to make sure they are on a flat surface. I learned this trick only when I discovered grass on my runways. You can then fly your new 'airport' and see how it fits into the surrounding land classes.

When I did that I discovered that I did not like the towns attaching to the airport. They are not there in real life. The only way to get rid of that is to change the land classes around the airport. I did that in the following way.

I used some background images set to land classes like 'Coniferous Forest'. Make them overlap a bit, and also overlap with the airport background. Not everything turns out fine here, and I have no idea why some land classes do not work. But after the work, the airport fits a lot better into the surroundings. You can then turn the view of the airport backgrounds off. This is a neat way to prevent the accidental change or movement of your work.

The Layout

Now start with the taxiways. If you have deleted all taxi designators you need to add the ones you need. Start with a runway center line in black. Then add the large taxiways. You should use either concrete or asphalt surfaces. You may also wish to edit the lights for the taxi links. I prefer full lights and all lines. By the way, if you continue a taxiway, make sure it is properly connected with the previous segment. The type and style as well as the designator will be taken from the continued taxiway. Also, make sure to connect the taxiway properly to the runway. You can use the fault finder to find problems. If a junction does not look good it is probably not well connected.
You can also add one apron and gate at this point. Adding a gate is easy. You select a medium gate, place it at the correct position, edit the gate to the correct gate number, optionally add a jetway, and connect the gate to the apron with apron links. Placing the jetway needs some practice. Use the fault finder to find jetways which are too far away from the gate. But even that may fail. Moreover, I prefer jetways visible at Dense scenery settings (not Extremely Dense). Once, you have done this a few times you can do it real fast. I prefer no lights for the taxi links. You need to edit this or set the default style like this if you have a Pro key. But you can also use the list to edit all apron links at once.
I am showing you the result for London Gatwick in the image below.

As you see there are only a few things working till now. But you can definitely fly from a gate and taxi to a gate. I added runway holding points already too. You may wish to do some checks concerning the ILS, or the runway signs at night and low visibility. You can even use this airport in that state for a while, requesting your existing gate from ATC if necessary.

The Details

If you study the final state of the airport in the image above you will discover a lot of details. I need to explain some of them as good as I can at that point of my knowledge.

The Aprons. I use concrete or asphalt aprons for the airport to reflect the real look. If you are using asphalt mixed with concrete reset the default order of drawing for the asphalt apron (right mouse button). Aprons can go underneath taxiways or the runway. Concrete aprons under concrete taxiways melt seamlessly. You can also use clay aprons for parking lots etc.
The generic buildings. I use SBuilderX for that. More below in a separate section. You can also use the ones that are present in ADE. Generic buildings are fast. If you change the sizes of the buildings the windows might look stretched, especially at night.
The library objects. I use light poles for a 3D effect and some shine on the ground at night. They are a bit too dark in my opinion. I also use some buildings every now and them, especially hangars , but I do no know for sure if every user of my scenery has every object installed. So it is preferable to use generic buildings. I also add baggage and airport cars or trucks to give the airport a more realistic look. I am not a huge fan of static aircraft. But I use them sometimes, but never blocking gates.
The vehicle links. Those are made for the AI airport traffic. Ground services like GSX etc. do not use them. But they make great streets, and they add an some realistic feeling to the airport. You can set library cars and buses besides them.
The ground lines. Those are roads and railway lines which do not really look very nicely. But that depends on your textures and the texture details you have set in FSX. E.g., Orbx night scenery puts bright lamps along roads. So be careful. I use them for the streets in front of terminal buildings if there are no streets from Orbx Vector present.

Generic Buildings

I use SBuilderX for this. The software creates an XML file describing the generic building. This can be imported into ADE.
To get things running start SBuilderX and FSX at the airport. Select to show the aircraft and zoom in. Then deselect the display of the aircraft and close FSX. Generate a generic building to your liking at the center of the area. Save the project! Then select the building and compile the scenery. We are only interested in the XML file which we import into ADE.
I really cannot explain here how to change the details of generic buildings properly. You will find out. The textures are a matter of trial and error as well as the tilings. There is a preview which you should check from all sides.
You can also change the building by pressing Ctrl-Enter in ADE and editing the XML properties. This is good for quick fixes.

Ground Signs

I try to mark gates with ground signs as in real life. It makes taxiing much easier, especially at night. For this, I use ground polygons with a texture background. You need the software DXTBmp for this. I have Photoshop but I do not know how to save the correct formats for FSX. I learned the correct handling from the provided textures and by trial and error. Unfortunately, this is a tricky thing to do.
So, open one of the textures in DXTBmp. They are in the folder Textures of 'MSFS/FS Design Tools/Airport Design Editor 165'. Now, you can send the texture itself or the transparency image to your favorite bitmap editor. They will be saved in a temporary file and loaded by the editor. I use Photoshop. I am using a blank white transparency and black letters on yellow background.

The image looks like you see above. You save the texture from DXTBmp to Textures as Extended Bitmap. For the preview in ADE you save the same texture in 'Textures_Dpy'. I do not use any other form of textures. You need to add the texture with the GP texture editor. It will be present in the list of textures, but you need to add it to the database. I set 30x30 meters for such a texture.
You need to select rectangle of this (or any other shape) since you do not want to add a texture file for each number. So place an approximate rectangle (or other shape) on the ground with the GP Poly tool. Edit it with the editor as in the image above.
As if that was not difficult enough, I had problems with the display ground polys in Gatwick. I had to lower the airport background about 70 cm for the ground polygons to appear correctly.


If you find that all a bit too complicated you are right. But believe me you can get the hang of it pretty soon. And there is a friendly forum for ADE with people that know a lot more about scenery design than I do.
Have fun! And get started soon!
Fsx Airport Scenery Designer
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