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Review: France VFR – Strasbourg LFST for FSX

The airport known as Strasbourg, LFST is located in the Alsace region of France just outside of the small city of Entzheim and approximately 10 kms southwest of Strasbourg.  It has a single runway 05/23 that is approximately 2400 meters long.  In 2009 it saw just over 1 million passengers use it’s facilities.

Installation and Configuration

The scenery product includes the airport of Strasbourg/Entzheim, LFST, and a surrounding area of approximately 50sq kms. Download size is 417Mb so it should not be a problem for most people.

Installation was standard FranceVFR fare with the requirement to pick your language of choice, either english or french, provide your registration number and then allow the installer to continue. The installation went without a hitch and the scenery was added to the FSX scenery library.  Configuration was not necessary in my particular situation.

Documentation

The package comes with a four page PDF manual and a set of charts also in PDF format. French and english versions of both are included. If you have ever purchased a FranceVFR scenery you will see that their manuals are pretty thorough in the information they provide. I like the format they use. It begins with the technical specs of the scenery and then goes into the installation and provides you with a list of folders affected and created by the installer. Recommended display and optimization settings are also given if you have a problem running the scenery. I didn’t find this scenery to be too taxing on my system and saw little affect on my frame rates. The final page lists the program group from where the charts can be accessed, how to uninstall the scenery, credits and contributors and then the final topic, support. They give the URL of their support forum and email address should you wish to contact them that way.

When it comes to airport charts lots of developers now seem to be going the route of simply providing a web address to access and download what you require, but these guys still provide them. In this package you get a total of 49 pages of chart and airport documentation with everything you need for both VFR and IFR flying.

Flying the Scenery

Visually the airport and surrounding countryside look good and when compared to real world photographs I was not able to find any omissions or anything that looked out of place. The use of hi res ground textures and autogen means that the nearby towns and villages are also correctly placed, accurately portrayed and that the airport itself is precisely positioned within the area of coverage.

The airport is located in a mostly rural area surrounded by farmland with several small cities in the immediate vicinity. All of this is convincingly conveyed with the inclusion of the high resolution ground textures and autogen. I use GEX and UTX and was pleased with the way all of these products blended together. There were some differences as was expected but overall I thought the look was good. The only problem I noted was with seasonal textures, this product includes only summertime textures so if you decide to fly in the winter the airport and it’s ground textures will remain green while the trees and default surrounding landscapes will appear snow covered.

Let’s begin with the buildings. The most elaborate happens to be the main passenger terminal; it is several stories high with an irregular multi level roof. The look is distinct and they pull it off. There is lots of glass facing the apron as well as several rows of skylights along the roof line. The front of the building also features external metal ribbing in a triangular pattern. All of these features are faithfully recreated. The tower also contains some very good detailing, you can easily distinguish the different types of roof mounted antennae and the external metal ladder used to access them. The 360 degree glass enclosure lets you peer in and see the control center.

This airport is a bit different from most other airports you fly in and out of because there are some structures found here that you will not normally see at a civilian airport.  On either end of the runway you will see several areas that are away from the main hub of activity. They contain a number of rounded green buildings configured in an elongated circle; these are hardened aircraft shelters otherwise known as a HAS, they are used to house military aircraft and lessen the chances of damage if they were to come under attack.  There are two groups of these just off of runway 23 and one off of runway 05. The group of shelters near runway 05 has two spots designated in the AFCAD as military parking in case you have AI aircraft that can take advantage of that.

The other buildings such as the freight terminal, fire station, and a variety of different hangers are typical of what you would find at any airport and I was happy with how they looked.

For airport vehicles you will find all of the usual variety found at most airports.  There is dynamic vehicle traffic both at the airport and on the nearby roadways. This airport also has a military element so in addition they have included a few armoured vehicles in amongst the hardened shelters just off of runway 05.  One of these however has a texture problem and has no wheels.

Last but not least are all of the other items so important to an airport. Items such as runway and taxiway markers, approach lighting, VOR/DME, blast walls, communications antennae, fencing, etc. These objects are all reproduced in detail and accurately placed on the underlying ground textures.

When it came to the aprons, runways and taxiways textures I had mixed feelings.  I liked the runways and aprons, I thought the colouring was good and they showed wear and tear and dirt stains in all the right spots. The painted markings were good and not overly bright.  However, I didn’t care for the way they did the taxiways. If you look at real world pictures you will see that they are only slightly darker than the aprons and almost the same shade as the runways.  They’re too clean and the colouring too dark when compared to real world pictures.  The harsh contrast between the taxiways and adjacent ground textures gives it an unreal look.  Part of the problem is that they don’t blend in. This is really evident when you look at the taxiway leading into the military area just north of runway 05.  This detracts from the good work they do in the rest of the scenery.

I was very impressed with the night time lighting effects at the airport and the surrounding countryside.  As you look at the screenshots you will see that the intensity levels are realistic with the brightest spots being directly under the lights and then you have a gradual fading as the distance from the light source increases.  This is the same for the street lighting in the nearby villages as well.

To see how it stacked up when it came to instrument flying I created several different flight plans with departures and arrivals on both runways.  I added the appropriate SID and STAR procedures as detailed in the charts and was very pleased with the results. The charts supplied with the package are great and I was able to use them and perform all of the procedures successfully.

Final Thoughts

I thought that overall they did an excellent job of recreating this airport. It is easy on the frame rates yet still gives you lots of eye candy and is great for both visual and instrument flying. I recommend it for anyone interested in flying this part of France or just looking for another mid sized airport to add to your current repertoire of destinations.

My Ratings

  • Installer: Very good. Simple to use.
  • Documentation: Very Good.  Manual and complete set of airport charts included.
  • Modelling: Very good. Hi res ground textures and lots of details but easy on frame rates

Download Size: 417Mb FSX

Price: EUR 16.72

Link: www.francevfr.com

Purchase: http://secure.simmarket.com/francevfr-strasbourg-entzheim-lfst-fsx.phtml

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, GEX, UTX, Ultimate traffic 2, REX, ASE, AES 2.07

Richard Desjardins

About Miguel Blaufuks

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