London Luton Airport, ICAO: EGGW is an international airport located approximately 56 kms north of Central London. The airport can trace its roots back to 1938 when an airport was opened on the site. It was used by the RAF during World War II but returned to commercial use afterwards. Over the subsequent decades it has seen carriers come and go as well as traffic increase and then decrease. It is currently the fifth busiest airport in the United Kingdom and the fourth largest of the six airports serving the London area. Luton has a single runway; 08/26 @ 7,087ft. In 2010 just slightly under 9 million passengers used the facilities. Today several airlines, EasyJet, Monarch Airlines and Thomson Airways have their head offices here.
Installation is a simple process; the first step is to input your registration information, the program will briefly connect to their server verifying your information to validate the scenery (for this an active internet connection is required). It will then continue and you will be given the option to install Airport Clutter and Carpark Cars, finally you will need to confirm the path to FSX. Having done all of this the program will proceed to install the scenery onto your hard drive. The end result will have the scenery installed and added to the FSX scenery library.
A program group called Eiresim Luton Ultimate FSX is also created when you install the scenery. Via this group you can access the License readme, product manual, the developer’s website and the scenery uninstaller.
There are no configuration options available.
Included with your download is a 15 page PDF document. The manual begins with the list of minimum and recommended system specifications for the scenery, they then go on and give brief descriptions and explanations of such things as; adding the scenery to the FSX scenery library if required, uninstalling the scenery, airport selection and also explain some of the airport animations. Under the heading “Performance” they list certain files that you may want to disable should you experience frame rate problems. Good info for those who may have this type of issue. The final four pages are devoted to the history of the airport.
Charts are not included however a link is provided if you wish to download them from the internet.
The first thing I want to show is the difference between the FSX default Luton and Eiresim’s Luton Ultimate. There is no mistaking the differences, what is also visible is that in addition to the airport the addon covers a small area to the east and west of the airport.
The layout of the airport has the buildings clustered in an area north of the runway. The largest area known as the main apron is surrounded by hangars to the west and north and then you have the main terminal building, the EasyJet hangar and control tower to the east. To the south is the fire station and fuel farms. East of the main terminal are the east apron, north apron and cargo apron. Comparing what they have modelled and what is on the chart all airport structures were included.
As part of any scenery review I devote a great deal of time trying to examine all of the various nooks and crannies from a visual perspective. My intention is to bring to light any deficiencies and also to be able to highlight the strengths. Often what I find is not immediately apparent but gets discovered as I spend more and more time exploring and this is how many of the less obvious deficiencies came to light.
The base for the entire scenery is made up of hi resolution photos textures making it very clear and detailed.
The airport is bordered by agricultural lands to the east and south. The grassy textures used for these areas looked realistic because of their use of photo scenery. The hi definition textures meant such things as tire tracks in the adjacent fields were clearly visible.
Hard surfaces looked very realistic and had all of the attributes I look for; clear and accurate markings, good colouring and signs of wear and weathering. I was impressed here; in addition to the asphalt and concrete showing signs of age and use the painted markings also displayed these attributes. This is something best appreciated when you are taxiing at ground level.
I noticed that as I would move along the runway the white center line would disappear in front of me and reappear behind me. I checked and had no other AFCAD files for EGGW anywhere in my FSX directory so I am not sure why this would occur.
Using these hi resolution photo textures as a base is a double edged sword; on the one hand you get these very detailed ground images which from above look great but then the drawback is that at very low altitudes or ground level you see these objects that appear in the photo scenery but are not actual objects. This seemed to be more of an issue here at Luton because there are really quite a few objects especially vehicles at the airport that simply haven’t been reproduced as 3d objects.
This also caused a problem with some of the buildings not lining up exactly with the scenery base. One of the most obvious examples of this was the control tower, because the tower base is not the same shape as what’s seen on the ground texture it looks out of place even though it is where it should be.
Building surfaces also consisted of hi resolution graphic images and for the most part they had a very realistic look. Using these hi res graphic images you get to see lots of small details that might not be there otherwise; such things as light fixtures, doorways and windows, it is also possible to discern the different types of building surfaces such as brick, siding or concrete as examples. Flying in and out of Luton the resulting visuals were very good.
There were a few problems however. Let me begin by saying that the problems I came across were by enlarge only visible close up. The first was that the walls were often flat. The developer relied on the graphic images to provide the vast majority of structure details and added very little in the way of discrete 3 dimensional enhancements to augment those visuals. Not an issue if you were flying in the vicinity or on the runway but once you were near the hangars or other buildings the problem quickly became apparent.
The other problem I noticed and again only at close range was that they often used the same image multiple times on a building.
There were exceptions of course; two being the EasyJet hangar and the Gulfstream hangar. They both have external structure details and the Gulfstream hangar is open allowing you to park inside.
Adjacent to the main terminal is a small octagonal building, next to it are a number of transparent canopies that lead away in different directions and along the tarmac’s edge. The problem here is that they don’t join up with each other very well so there are gaps and some of the support posts are missing. This is one of those things that you might not notice unless you happen to be parked in front or taxiing nearby but it is a problem none the less.
In addition to the airport buildings they have also included a few that are adjacent to the airport and along its northern edge. The most prominent being the GM building. It suffers from several problems; the first has to do with its shape, there is a corner of it that is overtop the road, in reality it is angled and ends at the road’s edge. The other aspect of the building that doesn’t look quite right in my opinion is the texture image used for the walls, the graphics do not match with what is on the ground nor do they seem to match up correctly in the corners or along the roofs edge.
Objects and vehicles
The airport had its fair share of objects and vehicles placed within its boundaries. For the most part I liked what I saw; most were detailed and realistic looking. The variety in object and vehicle types I felt were especially good, nothing seemed to be lacking and there was something to be found in every part of the airport.
I did notice a slight problem; there were a few places where one object was embedded inside of another. The ones I found were fairly obvious and thought they should have been picked up in beta testing.
The airport has animated apron vehicle traffic which helped boost the level of activity at Luton. Like the static vehicles the animated traffic was visible in various parts of the airport. The problem here was that I observed vehicles passing through some of the buildings and scenery objects. One glaring example was with vehicles passing through the terminal building and then partly embedded in another building as it moved along its route. I observed this problem behaviour in other areas as well so it wasn’t isolated to one single instance.
I generally liked how they portrayed the night time environment. The ground and approach lighting was good along with the building night time textures. Just like the daytime you could see that they used hi resolution textures.
Approaches and departures for Luton went off without a hitch. The approaches can prove to be a problem if navaids don’t line up or frequencies are wrong. I ran into no such difficulties at Luton. I tried several different approaches using both the PMDG Boeing 737 and Carenado Cessna CT210 and all went flawless.
Despite uncovering some visual problems with this product I still feel that Luton Ultimate is nicely done, good value for the price and an airport that you will want to add to your list of places to frequent on a regular basis.
Installer: Very good. Simple to use.
Documentation: Good. Informative manual. No charts included.
Modelling: Good. Easy on the frame rates.
Extras: Animated apron traffic.
Download Size: FSX 146MB
Price: EUR 15.70 without VAT
Developer Homepage: http://eiresim.com/
Intel i7 960 OC @ 4.2 Ghz, 6 Gb RAM, ASUS 480GTX w/1.5Gb video, Win 7 Ultimate 64, FSX w/acceleration, Ultimate traffic 2, REX Overdrive, GEXn, UTX, AES 2.13