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Review: Aerosoft – Sim-Wings Menorca X

Menorca or Minorca is located in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s name is derived from the Latin Insula Minor, later becoming Minorica which translated means minor island.  At just under 700 Sq kms in area and with a population of about 89,000 it is smaller than the neighbouring island of Majorca and is the least populated of the Balearic islands.

The main airport on the island is Menorca International Airport (LEMH). Opened in 1969 it took over from San Luis Airport (LESL) as the primary airfield for the island. It has two runways, 01L/19R at 8366 ft and the second 01R/19L at 6890 ft. Nowadays it sees just over 960,000 passengers go through it’s facilities each year.

Installation and Configuration

Installation and configuration are typical Aerosoft.  Simple and complete. Start the installer, enter your registration information, answer a question regarding any previous installation of a 3rd party mesh and then let the installer do it’s thing.  Once it’s finished the scenery will have been added to FSX. You will also see that you have two new tools available to you; LEMHTraffic.exe and Seasons.exe.  The AESlite traffic configuration tool allows you to select whether or not you want to have landside, apron or ship traffic active. This may be something to look at if you are having performance issues. There are a number of other settings within the simulator that may affect how this scenery performs and these are outlined in the “technical advise” section of the manual.

AESlite LEMH X Traffic configuration tool

The second tool added is the Seasons tool for trees, here you can choose what season you want the foliage on the trees to match. I don’t think you will get much use out of this as this part of the world rarely gets temperatures cold enough to get snow let alone have it stay on the ground. Besides the fact that the ground textures included never seem to change regardless of which season you choose to fly.

Season tool

 

Documentation

The product comes with a single 35 page PDF manual written in German and English and is for both the FS2004 and FSX versions of this scenery.

The manual contains separate sections for FS2004 and FSX. Their content is further broken down into Introduction, Technical advise and then Minorca.

The introduction contains information on system requirements, installation, removing Menorca X and finally charts.  The minimum system requirements are pretty basic and I don’t think should present a big problem to most people running FSX nowadays. They specify a CPU running at 2.8Ghz (dual core recommended), 1.2Gb free hard drive space, 1 Gb RAM, CD-ROM drive, video card with 256Mb and FSX w/SP2 or Acceleration.  They then outline the installation and removal procedures and finally how to locate the charts.

The section on technical advise begins by explaining how to select either of the two included airports via the “Select Airport” screen. The remainder of this section is dedicated to specific areas that may impact performance or influence the visual quality of the product. You should take the time to read this before you begin flying as some of the issues brought up may be relevant depending on your particular set up. A few highlights I will point out have to do with some of the technical settings you may want to check if you’re having performance problems.  Under the headings; Performance, Visibility of Objects, AI Traffic, Mesh Terrain, Aerial View Setting and Texture Display Setting they give you suggestions on how to best adjust your settings to optimize your system for their scenery.

The final page gives you a little bit about the history and geography of the island and it’s two island airports.

The charts are not included with the documentation however they do provide a link to the website where you can access and download them. Through the site you can get approach, SID, STAR, ILS, parking and VFR charts.  You will need to register but it is free and takes a minimal amount of time.

All of the above information is repeated for the FS2004 version.

Flying the Scenery

Island of Menorca

The island of Menorca including Menorca International (LEMH) and Aeroclub San Luis airfield (LESL) are all fully rendered in photoreal textures with 3D autogen objects added throughout. The fact that the entire island has been reproduced allows both airports to be seamlessly integrated with their surroundings. All too often you get an airport that is well done but once you are in the air and look at it in relation to it’s surroundings it sticks out like a sore thumb, sort of like a postage stamp on an envelope. Fortunately this is not the case.

The island as I said is rendered in photoreal ground textures, this allows the developers to reproduce the landscape exactly is it really is and give us some spectacular scenery.  As you can see in some of my screenshots the beauty in the contrasting shorelines really comes to light because of this. Whether you have stretches of sandy beaches, rugged rocky shores or seaside villages they are all accurately reproduced.  Inland you are treated to the same type of thing, there is variety in the landscapes and the roads and villages are also precisely recreated with lots of different types of buildings and houses throughout.  A landmark that stood out for me was the church and statue of Jesus Christ on the peak of Mont Toro, the highest point on the island at 1175 ft.

I found one type of structure to be lacking and that was lighthouses, for some reason they seem to have neglected to add any of these.  Flying around the island it would have been nice to see some of these along the rugged coastlines.  I also noticed in a very few instances that some of the bridges didn’t line up with their adjoining roadways.  All in all though it is some very beautiful scenery to fly over and observe.

Night lighting on the island looked pretty good, there were a few areas where flying at low altitude you could see spots of light where there were no houses or buildings nearby but for the most part it was believable.  The population of the island is not very large so you will not expect to see much in the way of night lighting.

Menorca International, LEMH

Just like with the island they use a base of photoreal textures and build upon that with autogen.  As you look around the airport you will notice that there is lots of activity, this is thanks to the inclusion of AESLite.  This feature brings vehicular traffic to the airport area. Besides this moving traffic you will find that there is a good variety in the types of vehicles included. There are mobile stairs, pushback vehicles, catering and refuelling trucks and buses to name a few.

All of the major structures such as the main terminal, cargo terminal, control tower, fire station and general aviation building have been modelled and look very realistic.

The main terminal building and jet ways have lots of glass and so to add to the realism they have made them look as though they were reflective.  Looking at the building it does appear as though you are seeing the reflection of your surroundings.  If you take a closer look around you will appreciate some of the details they have incorporated into their product.  At the top of the light standards are red hazard lights, you’ll also find a variety of transmission masts on top of the control tower as well as various other locations on the airport grounds. The jet ways are very detailed, you can make out the individual steps on the metal stairways and the screening that surrounds them, you also have safety barriers around the base of these same jet ways.

The airport grounds look good. They’ve done a nice job of modelling the PAPI lighting, VOR/DME and anemometers to the west of 01L/19R. All of the runway, taxiway and apron markings are clear and realistic. My only comment would be that they might be a little too clean in appearance.  The runways do show evidence of rubber skid marks at the landing zones but the parking areas seem to be lacking in dirt, oil or fuel stains.

They have not neglected the areas beyond the main terminal complex area.  Surrounding the airport you have perimeter fencing with access gates at the road entrances. At the northern edge of the airfield there is a firefighter training area with the burned out shell of an old aircraft, there is also an aviation fuel tank farm.  To the east you see trucks parked by the cargo building, along the roadways you have road signs and they have even include an “ELF” gas station with cars parked at the pumps.  One item I thought they could have improved on were the ground textures in this area, they appeared blurry. These textures are most likely the same resolution as those used elsewhere but this blurriness is more noticeable with roads and parking lots than it would be with grassy landscapes and vegetation.

Because this is an airport and you spend lots of time flying overhead what is on top of the buildings is almost as important as what you see at ground level.  Here is one area where they could have spent more time. The roof tops are lacking in any real detail.

Night lighting I thought was well done.  There is a nice glow coming from the light standards and the effect is quite realistic looking.  The approach lighting and the lighting along the runways and taxiways were also very good.

San Luis Aerodrome, LESL

Just east of Menorca International Airport is the San Luis Aerodrome, LESL. It has a single 6000 ft asphalt runway.  Originally built in the 1920′s it relinquished it’s role as the primary island airport in 1969 when Menorca International Airport was opened. It now serves about 3000 general and leisure flights per year.

The scenery developers have done a great job capturing the airfield giving it a run down look by weathering the runway and buildings.  All of the structures are there and looking closely you will see that the hanger doors are a little bit rusty and that there are chairs on a nearby balcony. It is these sorts of details that give a scenery package an edge over others when it comes to realism and ambiance.  This is a nice little airport to use if you are flying in something small like a Cessna.

Final Thoughts

I am a big fan of the Aerosoft scenery releases and this one is no different.  I like that they include the complete island of Menorca. Taking a tour of the island at low altitudes or flying into LEMH in a commercial liner you will be treated to some wonderful scenery.  Despite some minor issues this is a nice package and would be a worthwhile addition to your collection of destinations.

My Ratings

  • Installer: Very good. Simple to use.
  • Documentation: Good.  Manual included but airport charts must be accessed from online source.
  • Modelling: Very good. Easy on the frame rates.
  • Extras: AES traffic tool

Download Size: 986Mb FSX, FS2004 105Mb
Price: EUR 16.76
PURCHASE: : http://secure.simmarket.com/aerosoft-online-menorca-x.phtml

Developer: http://www.sim-wings.com/
Publisher: www.aerosoft.com

Test System: Intel i7 920 OC @ 3.8 Ghz, 6 Gb RAM, EVGA 285 GTX w/1Gb video, Win 7 Ultimate 64, FSX w/acceleration

Richard Desjardins

About Miguel Blaufuks

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