Author Topic: One for the real airline pilots out there - is this lighting right?  (Read 2642 times)

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Offline Per Ardua Ad Ars

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I received a lighting update for Abu Dhabi (ignore the skewed approach lights, MM is fixing that - this is just his"first cut").

What I'd like to know from the airline pilots here (eg Jeepee, LeFreak, Mariano etc) is this: D'you think the TDZ ights are way too bright, and the taxiway centerline lights also? I can't get over the feeling they're too intense, but only someone that sees this sort of thing regularly could really comment.

Any other observations would be useful also. I just have my doubts, but I could be wrong.

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Offline Burrito

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The issue I've noticed with runway (and landing) lights in BOTH FS9 and FSX is that the lights don't fade into the distance.  While the runway centerline lights appear to be getting brighter as the runway goes on in FS, in real life, maybe half to three quaters of the runway would be illuminated, and the rest lost in the shadow cast by the lights ahead.  The taxiway turnoff lights I can't go saying anything about; the airports I've flown into at dusk all had blue endlights that were brighter at the runway intersection.

The approach lights are perfect, as far as I know.  At PHL, the underbellies of the aircraft on final approach are brightly lit by the approach lights near the runway.

- Jay

Offline Jeepee

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I don't see anything wrong in this screenshot.
As for the brightness of the lights, an airport is not one another; each have their particularities.
For instance, at EBBR, the green taxiways centerline lights are visible from very far away, and can't be dimmed by the tower.   But the runway lighting itself can be modulated in respect of the general visibility, or dimmed/increased on pilot's request, if desired.

The only thing I notice which is wrong (apart from the weird "telegraphic" poles along the approach lights pattern), is that the Touchdown Zone (TDZ) lights are too short; starting immediately from the threshold, they must have a length of 3,000 feet into the runway, and in the same alignment as the red approach lights.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2008, 12:00:25 AM by Jeepee »
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Offline md11forever

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Just interesting to note that I have heard C130's doing TnG's here at KOSH request the runway lights at various intensities...or even OFF. Must have been quite interesting to see in person, a C130 landing at night with no runway lights.
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Offline Liner81

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Agree with Jeepee.. immediately noticed that the touchdown zone lights appear too short.  Intensities look fine.. many times the damn lights are turned up too bright to begin with.  Don't see any other problems at first glance.

Look at the photo linked above.. most times it appears like that, the touchdown zone lights are split lengthwise by the vasi/papi.  (glideslope leads to the middle of the touchdown zone lights)


.. upon further thought, I usually have my eyes closed by this point anyway, so who the heck knows? ..
« Last Edit: May 28, 2008, 01:00:45 AM by Liner81 »

Offline M-Sauce

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The only thing I notice is that the Runway Edge Lights and the Centerline lights are not changing in color towards the end of the runway. The Edge lights should change to amber on the last 600 meters or 1/3 of the runway, whichever is less. The centerline lights should change to alternating red white at the last 3000 feet, and then change to all red at the last 1000 feet.

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Offline Juan Botero

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The only thing I notice is that the Runway Edge Lights and the Centerline lights are not changing in color towards the end of the runway. The Edge lights should change to amber on the last 600 meters or 1/3 of the runway, whichever is less. The centerline lights should change to alternating red white at the last 3000 feet, and then change to all red at the last 1000 feet.

Mariano  ::cheers::

Isn't that a limitation imposed by FS?

I seem to recall that those green/red threshold lights (don't know the technical term here) abruptly changed colors when you passed over them.
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Offline Per Ardua Ad Ars

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Well, I have to say a big vote of "thanks" to everybody for discussing it this way - its really helpful to get the various points of view.

MM knows some stuff is wrong but some of the snippets are gonna be useful. (And please keep 'em coming if there's anything to add).

To address specific things - the telegraph poles are gonna be excluded, they're default scenery and will go just as soon as there's a workable landclass/VTP BGL available. The person making that is having a busy time in the real world! The new VTP should mean that these poles (that lie along a default road in FS9) should disappear along with the road, without the need for an exclusion. (I know they're there, but I can't even see them in the screenshot (maybe because I set my monitor brightness at 50%!). Apparently FS plants things like utility poles along roads if you ask for them in the VTP layer (or something technical like that ..).

The TDZ lights are too short - that might be because he's using them to experiment with this over-lighting problem (stretching them out along the runway then compressing the lines of lights (they're single lights, but you can lay down lines of objects in SceneGenX, so its easy to experiment this way). I think MMs problem with them (and this pertains to the thing in general) is that the lights feel too intense to him, and he's been experimenting with them to see what the effects are - he was talking about this late last night and I gotta admit it pretty much went right over my head - so I put out a screenshot instead :). Problem with these lights (they're not effects, they're built-in to the model) is that, as Jay says, they tend to build up to a haze of bright light in the distance. Although that does tend to happen for real, its just not as intense as FS shows it. There are a couple pictures on a.net that show foreshortened lighting and as the distant light points start to merge due to the perspective, the color becomes more obvious and the perceived brightness also changes because the points of light are coalescing. I just don't think the sim reproduces that so faithfully, the lights seem to magnify each other rather than just add together one-for-one. I read that there's a technique for brightening effects by stacking 2 or more on top of each other, so you get more intense strobe lights for instance, and I think that might be what's happening here - as an inconvenient side-effect, from the eyepoint these lighting effects are effectively getting stacked together.

I'd be interested to know how far apart the TDZ lights are spaced laterally and also along the runway in real life - although I think MM got the spacing looking okay, just their extent is wrong. There are no TDZ lights on the other end of the runway by the way. Not in this scenery or at the real airport!

In passing, I should mention that the TDZ lights are actually aligned okay, its the undershoot's red lighting that's skewed! It only has to be a fraction of a degree and they look really bad. The 2-light section has a kink in the middle that will get ironed out sometime. Its easy to place lights on the runway because he has visual references, but featureless sand .. big problem.

MMs not particularly concerned about the intensities except with the TDZ (although he did ask my opinion, but I can't shrug over the phone). With the green centerline, its just my take on it, since he sees more approach lights than I do anyhow. What he did say was that once the intensities were set, they would be set (in the Gmax light model). He didn't want to hear some complaint about the lighting and have to go back and patch the scenery, because reworking the intensities in Gmax is laborious.

What else? Ah, Mariano's observation about the run in towards the far end of the runway. Yep, MM has that covered, but not implemented. So far he has strung white along the runway, pretty much full-length, and has inset a red centerline for the runway ends that you can't see in this shot because you're at the wrong end of the runway. There are red lights at this end too, but you can't see them because MM has implemented bi-directional lights, so they're showing white. Same as the runway end lighting is showing green from here, but red if you're within the runway.

He was telling me last night that the lights are proving to also be a very big pain, because the lighting effects are omnidirectional by default, so you can be behind a PAPI and still see its lights - until you make some invisible structure that had to be hand-coded into each directional light you make, called "separation planes". So for the yellow/amber edge lights he still needs to code a light to make both white and amber, then make one of these invisible separation planes between them that makes the white show if you're approaching over the threshold, and amber show if you're at the end of a very long landing run. He's made the green/red end lights (and you have to make 2 - one for each end of the runway, you can't rotate the object because the separation plane keeps its original orientation!) and he's made the PAPIs, and the red/white centerline lights that go along with the amber/white lights when he gets around to making them. So he has to make 2 models of each bi-directional light, one for each end, and what's worse, 4 PAPIs!

AUH has left & right PAPIs at both ends (nobody seems to have noticed that the left PAPI is working the correct way and the right one should be working in the mirror image, reds creeping in from the inner light outwards), what's worse, they're staggered, which I never saw before, like this ..



.. so he's gonna have to make 4 of the suckers, 2 staggered in one direction and 2 the other, then with these separation planes that also need to be mirrored so the lights work in-to-out at each end. And about here my brain melts down.

I never realized all the stuff that has to be done to get the sceneries out there to the point where people say "yep, nice approach" and just accept the scenery as okay.

@Juan. There are certainly limits in the FS implementations, but these lights are all custom built because all the default lighting is lost the moment you apply photo textures. So he's not limited by FS anymore, just provided he puts in all the work that's needed for each variation of bi-directional lights. None of those surface lights you see are provided by AFCAD, not one!

.. upon further thought, I usually have my eyes closed by this point anyway, so who the heck knows? ..

I've got my notepad and pen ready - who is it you fly with?  ;D

I've never heard of light casting shadows, but anyway

Since you mention it, MM was asking me last night whether, when I'm making the night textures for the photo ground, I could simulate the light that would be in the undershoot from all those lights shining out along the approach.



I can't seem to remember exactly what my reply was. I think it was quite short.

Just interesting to note that I have heard C130's doing TnG's here at KOSH request the runway lights at various intensities...or even OFF. Must have been quite interesting to see in person, a C130 landing at night with no runway lights.

That'll be NVG and special ops kinds of procedures? It also depends on the kind of night it was. Come full moon you can see a surprising amount of detail. No runway lighting and no landing lights either, must be fun.

But back on-topic, I also notice that the yellow lead-off lights are maybe a bit intense also (these lights alternate green and yellow to take the airplanes off the runway and to the hold-short line).

Maybe like Jeepee says, we just have to say that this place is lit differently, just like everywhere else.

Still, if the general consensus is that the intensities are okay, I'll give it a couple days for other comments (eg the yellow lead-off lights and red stop bars) and then let him know.

And I can't help thinking those PAPIs look like little robot puppies.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2008, 08:47:01 AM by Per Ardua Ad Ars »
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Offline Burrito

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I must say that this scenery will rival FlyTampa's OMDB right across the street...

When I said "cast a shadow" I was not speaking literally...I should clear that up.  For instance, the halo around a full moon appears to dim "nearby" stars, throwing their actual luminosity way out of scale.  Likewise, runway lights up close and personal will also cast a halo, and as the lights bunch up due to the "looking down a railroad track" perspective we see upon takeoff and landing, the further down the runway one looks, the dimmer the lights get.  Flightsim just doesn't portray that accurately, but neither does it portray:

accurate left turns coordinated via autopilot..
accurate holding patterns at busy airports..
runway surfaces and the LOVELY bumps and bruises felt as the aircraft rumble down for T/O or LDG..
landing lights (much like car lights) bouncing all across the ground surface when those bumps are hit..

The list goes on.

Jay

Offline Per Ardua Ad Ars

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I must say that this scenery will rival FlyTampa's OMDB right across the street...

Err, Jay. Apart from the night shot, those are not pictures of the scenery!  :D (j/k)

I don't think the ground will be anywhere near as nice as FT Dubai. Martin put together OMDB with his own ground textures, and unless we find a way to spiff up the satellite pictures they'll always be less precise, and very second-best to OMDB despite it now being listed by FlyTampa as a legacy product. Still, I guess MM might do a few token bits to improve that. He has to swing around to the ground later on anyway, when he adds the lighting layers to simulate the night lighting, but who knows how long that would take. The last time he did that was on the MP2 addon for Marseille (Aerosoft's payware version) and I believe that took a couple weeks despite it being just one terminal and some new ground.

I just got another BGL from him this afternoon (via his neighbor 1/2 mile down the road!) and I'm firing the sim up right now to take a look. In fact I'll post another couple images if the changes are big enough. >waiting< >waiting< etc ..


Abu Dhabi Police chopper by the now-staggered PAPIs (or puppies). Unfortunately I just had to tell him that this pair don't work properly (indications are "above the g/s" even when you're on the ground).


The ALSF-2 end (rw 31) that we saw this morning, slightly improved. Some of the red undershoot lights are still misaligned, using a zoomed view has really shown that up.


Far end of the runway with the red warning zone in place but the amber warning edge lights not yet implemented.


Same end of runway as the previous image, but this time looking from over the approach lights. The centerline is now white because the lights are all bi-directional. Note that there's no lit TDZ for this runway (CAT  1), and yet there are dual PAPIs (working okay on this end), REILs, a Calvert approach light system rather than the ALSF-2 on the CAT 2 end of the runway. The red undershoot lights are also off-center at this end. Note also that if you overflew the length of the runway in this direction, the TDZ at the other end wouldn't show because those lights are all unidirectional and aren't shining towards us (but if we looked back as we passed them, we'd see them). Nice.

I'm not sure about the spacing of some of the lights, but he's looking into that. Also, the lights from this close are just showing lightmaps because the illuminating effect fades as you get close to the lights, and he didn't want them just to go dark! The lightmap's just a picture of a white or red lens.


An overview at night from near the Amiri Flight ramp (buildings just down and right of center). He's done no night lighting at all as yet. All the lit buildings are using default MS textures. I thought I'd indicate how much of the scenery is Gmax and how much is stock-textured objects.

Most of the night lighting away from the main terminals will be guesses. If there's a lighting pole there, it'll get light beneath it. Building lights and window lights will be best-guesses. Lots of work to do there ..
Idealogically suspect religious arrogance exterminates life.
Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich. Ustinov.
The sadly-mortal George Carlin on soft language