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Review: Aerosoft’s Faro X

Faro X is one of several newly released sceneries this summer from Aerosoft..

The airport of Faro (LPFR) is located several kilometres from the city of Faro on the southern coast of Portugal.  Having a moderate climate it is an area that is popular with tourists. That has impacted the airport by making it extremely busy especially during the summer months.  In 2008 it saw approximately 5.4 million passengers pass through it’s facilities. The airport has a single asphalt runway 10/28 that is 2490 meters long. The airport opened in 1966, since then a new terminal building was constructed and further expanded in 2001. The airport continues to undergo construction to increase capacity, enhance security and overall passenger satisfaction.

Installation and Configuration

This scenery is only 146Mb which makes for a fairly quick download.

Straightforward and uncomplicated are two words that come to mind when describing the Aerosoft installation routine.   Anyone familiar with their products will know what I am talking about. For those of you who may have never been exposed to their installer it is one of the simplest to use. Start the installer, add your registration information, the installer will then locate your FSX directory and you will be prompted to continue.  The last step performed by the installer is to add the scenery to the FSX scenery library.

No configuration changes were required with my current setup.

As part of the install routine a program group titled “Aerosoft” will be created with a sub group “Faro”, it is through this link that you can access the manual.

Documentation

The scenery includes a 16 page German/English PDF document.  The manual starts off by listing the system requirements for the scenery. They are modest and shouldn’t exceed those of your typical computer running FSX. Minimum specs are; P4 2.6 recommend 3Ghz dual core, 50Mb hard drive space, 2Gb RAM, 3d graphics card w/256Mb recommend 512Mb.  They then go on to describe the install and uninstall processes.  Next is a short paragraph with some general information about the airport which then leads into the technical information where they provide details about the runways, navaids and radio frequencies. The last page gives you several suggestions on how you might optimize performance; they suggest switching off ground scenery shadows, setting autogen to normal and AI traffic to a max of 25%.

Charts are not included but they provide a link where you can register and access them as required.  Registration is free for the Portuguese Aeronautical Information Publications website.

Flying the Scenery

Having had the opportunity to review a number of Aerosoft releases over the course of the past year I have come to expect a certain high standard from their products.  I am happy to say that this release not only meets that high standard it surpasses it.

Right from the start my impressions of this airport were very positive.  One of the first things I did was to have a look and see how the FSX default and Aerosoft versions of Faro compared from an aerial perspective.  The differences are significant and clearly evident as you can see in the comparison screenshots. The enhancements are not confined to just the airport proper; you see that the area immediately surrounding the airport has been reworked. The most noticeable improvements are with the addition of the salt pens and lagoons that are along the south and east end of the runway.

Starting with the ground textures; unlike many scenery developers who use hi resolution ground textures only on the working side of the airport this one has been completely rendered with hi resolution textures.  I feel that this gives the overall look a real boost. The ground textures they’ve used are excellent and one of a number of factors that contribute to the overall high quality appearance of this scenery.  The parking areas are some of the best I’ve seen.

Buildings are an important part of any airport and how well they are done can certainly make a big impact on whether or not you will want to keep coming back.

The fire hall which is along the southern edge of the airport is one building I feel needs special mention.  To me it is an example of how buildings should be done; they don’t appear to have missed a thing, no matter what angle you approach it from. Looking at it you’ll see the exterior wall mounted light fixtures, entrance pillars, multifaceted wall faces, finely detailed road markers, roof mounted antenna, water drainage pipes, skylights, etc. The building is part open garage so they have also modelled the interior parking area. Of course you can’t have a fire hall without fire trucks and they have included several fire/rescue vehicles and just as with the building they are detailed and very well done.

Besides the fire hall some of the more prominent buildings are of course the main terminal, fuel tank farm and control tower.  Regardless of which one you look at you can see that they’ve gone through a lot of work to make them accurate reproductions of the real structures. The main terminal has animated jet ways and comes with a docking system to help guide you into your final parking position.  Just one more feature to make Faro a destination of choice.

There is some construction currently going on at the airport to expand it’s capacity and that is reflected in this scenery. To help get that feeling across there are construction vehicles, most notably diggers and bulldozers.  There is also a large tower crane that is just one more example of the type of detail that sets this airport apart from the crowd.  It is easy to make out the different components; the mast, the long horizontal arm or jib with the trolley that runs along it’s length, the shorter machinery arm with the counter weights and the operator cab. If you look at the cable dangling from the trolley you will see that it sways in the wind.

As important as the major structures are it is essential that the same care be taken when it comes to all of the other objects you see within the airport. It is the small details that can make a big impact on how you view the overall quality of a scenery package.  Just as with everything I have described up to this point they continue to impress me.  They’ve included all of the usual objects such as the VOR/DME, perimeter fending, approach lighting, markers and transmission towers.

There are lights that run along the outside boundary of the general aviation parking area; what makes these special is the conduit that runs between these lights. It is a detail not seen in many sceneries and one that could have easily been omitted by the scenery creators.  There are lamp posts located west of the tower, they each have an attached ladder that is surrounded by an open safety cage. Once again a detail that could have been easily left out but wasn’t.

Vehicle spotters will find that this airport has quite a variety. Some static and some animated. I’ve already made mention of the construction and fire hall vehicles. You’ll see plenty of the vehicles you’d normally expect to find at an airport of this size; fuel trucks, mobile stairs, pushback tugs, buses, utility vans, baggage carts, cargo trucks, cars and more.  For dynamic vehicle traffic you’ll see fuel and cargo trucks driving on the airport roadways. The vehicles are all detailed and of a high quality.

To enhance the tarmac area they’ve added a number of static aircraft.  The variety is quite good; they’ve included several Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jets, Dornier DO-28s, a Maule-7 and CL-215 water bombers.

The night time lighting at the airport I found to be very realistic. The intensity of the light produced from the lamp posts was good, not too intense and didn’t extend beyond what you would expect to see.  Taxiway, runway and approach lighting was also good, I didn’t see any large blobs of light.

Finally, looking at how this airport blended in with the surrounding scenery I would have to say that overall I was happy with the look. The only spots it was really noticeable was where you had major roadways, here there were obvious differences that couldn’t be avoided because of their use of hi resolution ground photo scenery.

I flew several different approaches and departures utilizing the charts downloaded from the Portuguese Aeronautical Information website and didn’t have any problems.  Being in a geographically flat area and on the water’s edge it is not a very challenging airport to land at or take off from.

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Final Thoughts

Being from Canada this was a destination that I probably would not have considered flying to only because it is not an airport that I was familiar with. Thanks to the folks at Aerosoft and this great rendition of Faro I will now count this as one airport that will see me on a regular basis as I continue to explore and fly around the region. I highly recommend this airport for anyone who is looking for a new destination. It is easy on the frame rates while giving you plenty to see from any angle.

My Ratings

  • Installer: Very good. Can’t get much simpler than this.
  • Documentation: Good. Charts must be downloaded from the web.
  • Modelling: Very good. Frame rate friendly but full of details.
  • Extras: Static aircraft and numerous animations. Hi resolution ground textures throughout.

Download Size: 146Mb

Price: EUR 12.59

Link: http://secure.simmarket.com/aerosoft-online-faro-x.phtml#mce_temp_url#

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, Ultimate traffic 2, REX, AES 2.06

Richard Desjardins

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