Covering airport buildings with aprons

I’m looking for some clarification regarding the best practices for covering airport buildings with aprons in the World Hub.

Currently, with the original AI builds, there is not a lot of consistency as to which buildings get covered and which get left alone. For instance, at one airport I worked on, all buildings were already covered. At another, only the ones that were surrounded by ramps were covered, but the ones on the periphery of the ramp were not. And at yet another, neither those on the periphery nor the ones in the middle of a ramp were covered. So we’re beginning with a lot of inconsistency.

I’ve had several submissions rejected for not covering buildings, so I’m trying to get a better understanding of what we should be covering, what we can leave alone, and if uncovering a building to match what the AI already did is off the table. To be frank, I’m not sure if making a building look like a concrete pad, with all the remaining vagaries of a transition from the ramp to the building (hangar) in place, is a good thing. Are we to also cover shadows from a building from which the aerials were taken at an oblique angle? Are we to cover all the small accoutrements that you might find around buildings (there’s often quite a bit of equipment and/or junk at smaller airports)? When a prominent tree is overhanging a building, are we expected to sacrifice (remove) that with the building?

Additionally, I’m finding a lot of parking lots covered on non-airport businesses and residences, as if they are ramps, when it is clearly not the case. How far away from the airport should the practice of “covering” extend? Should we delete those if they are a certain distance from the airport, or if they are clearly not on airport property? What if they are immediately adjacent and have a lot of junk (junkyards and equipment storage are often near airports)? Covering vehicles and airplanes on the airside make sense, but the transition from airside to land side is not always clear (or even extant at the smallest airports). I feel like this whole concept can be taken to the nth degree, cause a lot of work for all parties, and still not make for good results.

Lastly, just saying, much of this ambiguity could be resolved with the ability to add simple buildings and hangars.

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To add, several airports I’ve worked on lately have been slightly shifted from their original aerial, building shadows have changed, equipment and vehicles have moved, etc. Or maybe these things were misaligned to begin with? Either way, they’re off.

So in making adjustments to ramps and fixing the new issues, it opens up a can of worms regarding the buildings, which leads to a lot of time spent and further wondering how far I should take it. I’m finding it difficult to know what to focus on and where to draw the line and stop in order to truly improve things.

To be frank, I’m not sure if making a building look like a concrete pad, with all the remaining vagaries of a transition from the ramp to the building (hangar) in place, is a good thing.

Totally agree with this. I’ve also noticed that some of the structure locations already covered with an apron try to match the color of the building, and other auto-gen aprons match the taxiway color. If it’s within the airfield perimeter but detached from a taxiway/runway…I try to cover with a grass apron. Of course the color of the grass could also be mismatched from the latest aerials, so we have to manually get the color from the latest aerials and hope that it matches. Bit of a pain.

I’ve been using more and more of the texture falloff and spline features just to ensure that any updated aerials would have coverage as well. Unfortunately this has made some airport areas unnatural looking.

Are we to also cover shadows from a building from which the aerials were taken at an oblique angle?

I think so. There are a few airports that got approved without the entire shadow being covered. It may be beneficial to have a larger grass/dirt apron underneath the structure/apron to cover the areas surrounding the area of interest in case of future shadows. But again…this can be a pain and take quite a bit of time depending on the area.

Are we to cover all the small accoutrements that you might find around buildings (there’s often quite a bit of equipment and/or junk at smaller airports)?

That’s the assumption unfortunately. I’ve had airfields rejected for not covering vehicles, large pieces of equipment (stairs, pallets, ect), and groups of smaller objects. Only for the covered objects to not be in the location that was covered. The rule now is to work off of the imagery we have, which could cause issues if the approver has different aerials. It’s like a game of whack-a-mole with covering objects.

When a prominent tree is overhanging a building, are we expected to sacrifice (remove) that with the building?

You can remove the tree by using a polygon. Draw the polygon around the tree that you intend on removing, select only “vegetation,” then set the vegetation scale to “0.” You could probably do the same thing by placing an apron with the appropriate texture at the base of the tree, then making sure that vegetation “exclude in” and “exclude around” is checked

How far away from the airport should the practice of “covering” extend? Should we delete those if they are a certain distance from the airport, or if they are clearly not on airport property? What if they are immediately adjacent and have a lot of junk (junkyards and equipment storage are often near airports)?

This is the ambiguity that we’re all running into. There isn’t a clear-cut method for choosing what gets covered, and what doesn’t. If it’s a large area that could be used as a landmark while in a pattern (outside of the airport 200 meters or less), I try to cover it, then list it in the change notes when submitting. Just in case an approver wonders why it was modified in the first place. Everything inside the airport perimeter I try to modify if needed.

Lastly, just saying, much of this ambiguity could be resolved with the ability to add simple buildings and hangars.

This…

I’m honestly surprised that default hangars aren’t included in the Hub SDK objects menu. It would save a lot of headaches, and make these airports look better.

I should have made it more clear - I want to keep the tree, but it overlaps a building, so putting the apron over the building kills the tree, so to speak. There a lot of airports in the US that have trees near the ramp, FBO, etc.

In a perfect world, we’d have generic office buildings, warehouses, and a few different hangars (including T hangars).

I should have made it more clear - I want to keep the tree, but it overlaps a building, so putting the apron over the building kills the tree, so to speak. There a lot of airports in the US that have trees near the ramp, FBO, etc.

Ah I understand. After you place an apron, you can uncheck the "exclude vegetation options in the apron properties. That way the tree will remain either on top/next to the apron.

In a perfect world, we’d have generic office buildings, warehouses, and a few different hangars (including T hangars).

Concur. I wonder if those will be included in the Hub SDK later on.

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Yes, didn’t think of that for the tree thing. Thanks for reminding me!

Small to mid-sized US Airports (that need a lot of work) have such crazy variation on their designs, usage, what you might find on or adjacent, etc. And there are thousands of them.

I hope the dev team takes this all as constructive criticism in order to improve both ends of things before this process goes to the wider public and y’all get inundated. And of course I’m trying to get better at it myself. :slight_smile:

First off, I agree with all the suggestions for World Hub improvements. Let me add my current wishlist (just posted on the other forum about it): limited access to terraforming, so we can shape details like certain hardened aircraft shelters or fire ponds. I would also not be opposed to access to some “decorative” items like luggage carts, helicopter trolleys, static vehicles like fire trucks, shipping containers. And I really, really need marker cones in the usual shapes and colors and fences.

Regarding the hangars and other buildings: make them procedurally generated, similar to the Control Tower object, but let us draw their footprint, select a style, and enter a custom building height.

Regarding the original question:
I’m under the impression that we live under new rules now.
Before, they expected us to submit completely overhauled aerodromes.
I didn’t mind that, it fit my modus operandi, but I understand why some people minded: they just wanted to fix misplaced PAPI lights, and for some reason they were now supposed to redo all the aprons because the current version of the field was based on an even older aerial.
Now, any change is accepted that improves the field as long as the change itself doesn’t clash with any of the rules. At least that’s how I understand it.

We should also keep in mind that whatever we do now is of a very temporary nature. While I believe that I can reuse most of my work for “my” airports when we get new aerials, there’s no doubt that whatever we do now will not look pretty in MSFS2024. Especially if the “newer aerial bug” is any indication and the coming world is offset by a few meters.

So, my last edition to the wishlist would be: Dear Asobo & Microsoft, when you start the flighting for MSFS2024, please grant World Hub editors access to the flighting as soon as the new aerials are part of the test, and provide a separate instance of the World Hub for 2024 where we can submit our changes in time for the launch.

I’m pretty confident that I would use that opportunity to make sure the airfields close to my heart are ready for primetime.