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Getting started with custom airports?

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I'm looking to build a pretty sweet custom airport, but I don't know how I should go about to start, nor if I have all the right components. Here's what I downloaded.



This 2003 pack has a 1x1 airport tile (disguised as a plaza) so custom airports will actually function (otherwise, they're just eye candy)





These two packs are the "upgraded" versions of the original modular airports.



This is a newer file, but by a different person, to have functional runways. However, I'm not sure if it's compatible with the others.


Anyone with experience in custom airports want to give me some tips on where to start?

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Hi LivingInThePast,


I've made some custom airports in the past,( http://community.simtropolis.com/journal/2974/entry-17421-masel-international-airport/ ), and am pretty experienced overall with airport design being an avid FSX player.


I see you've got the modular terminals and concourses. You'll want RMIP-2 SAE (All volumes -http://community.simtropolis.com/index.php?app=core&module=search&do=user_activity&search_app=downloads&mid=93676), which will provide you with base textures and modular lots in the airport menu to create taxiways, ramps, aprons etc. TMIP (Taxiway Markings Improvement Package), is also extremely helpful, but may not be necessary for the beginner.


Just a quick crash course into airport terminology: Runways are what planes take off on, and taxiways connect the runways to the gates and ramps (where planes park). You may not be able to create your own custom layout when first starting off, so base your airport off of another one. I believe my very first airport was based loosely off of Knoxville's Mcghee Tyson Airport, which had a relatively simple layout. Google Maps will help you alot in that regard.


Don't use prefab runways, they are 95-100% of the time too short. You can use Google Maps, or some of the pointers and tips in the "Show Us Your Airport" thread in the City-Building Concepts forum to create your own runway. 


Remember to include a variety of planes. I believe the Simcity communities have already created most of the real world aircraft models. You'll find a good bulk of them on the STEX and LEX under the creators "AC Team" and"Simcity Aviation Group or SCAG". There are also some independent creators such as Tabi and mike_oxlong. Also know your airlines. It wouldn't make sense to have a Regional US Airways Jet placed next to Korean Air at your concourses (unless your airport is located strategically in the middle of the pacific in which case, by all means) .


But seriously, go to the SC4 City Building Concepts section and take a look through what others have done, it'll really get you started off. Good luck mate ;)

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I'd add some experience-learnt tips like:


- Know the pieces: you'll only be aware of how powerful the RMIP-2 packs are until you have discovered all the different taxiway, ramp, apron and grass tiles you have in your hands, not to talk about all the different terminal and concourses pieces. Try to open a sandbox city and plop them all at once, see how they relate to each other; specially on diagonal-to-orthogonal transition pieces.

- Start small: Civil aviation and regional airports before venturing making LAX recreations. This will let you master the concepts before taking up two large city tiles and making everything unrealistic.

- Trial and error: even the most experienced airport-builders have to plop and replop tiles on their correct rotation, most of them have no guiding arrows. This is normal and it will always happen, so just don't get frustrated when you plop tiles on the wrong markings.

- Have fun: most of the times, building airports can be a quite tedious experience, the better you want to place your markings, or the more complex the layout is; the more tedious it gets. Sometimes, players just don't have the patience to do that and don't care about the layout or the markings, this leads to unrealistic results. As a rule of thumb, a regional airport takes me around 2-3 hours to build, building a really large (although not really complex airport) takes me around 7-8 hours. The longer and more complex it gets, the more rewarding the sensation is at the end.  

- Know the packs: There are gigabytes of airport-related content out there, I'd differentiate three kinds of stuff packs:

             1) Absolutely necessary ones: ACE-VLT Terminals and Jets Series, RMIP-2 Volumes 1-to-4 and .

             2) Quite necessary ones: Hangars, ATCTs, extra airplanes (mostly under the ACE-VLT, ACE-XIZ and SCAG names) and cargo stuff.

             3) The extra stuff: hybrid runways, extra warehouses, other kinds of terminals...

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  • Original Poster
  • I don't want to make accurate recreations of real airports. Sure, I'm always fascinated with big airports. My airport consists of a modest two-level terminal, a snack bar, two airlines, and a free parking lot. Compare that to say, Houston's. Even aforementioned small airport stand out in the city's footprint.


    That being said, the reason I want to do it is I hate the in-game airports. What bugs me more is that they're not grotesquely off scale: everything in SimCity 4 has a bit of an off-scale feel. If you actually took the measurements, you'll find even the largest city tile is a decent-sized neighborhood, with about 3-5 schools, and about two supermarkets (taking examples from measurements of my own city).


    It's the fact that airports have crime by tile, so it becomes a massive sinkhole of crime and villainy in the city, requiring expensive (and unrealistic) large police departments to handle it. That's where the 1x1 airport tile comes in, of course, but I still want "an airport".


    I want enough things (and "pieces") to make a fairly convincing airport. Not gigabytes upon gigabytes of stuff. ;)


    It's akin to making a simple rail setup (trains running in a circle) rather than a complicated set-up simulating an entire line.


    Funny you mention the Tyson Airport, as almost a year ago today (maybe yesterday), I flew out of that airport to get home. That was a fun trip. 8)


    Of course, the reason I remember the specific day was because of a horrible thing that happened in town, but that's beside the point.

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