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Review of AEROSOFT – FRANKFURT-HAHN X for FSX

Frankfurt-Hahn Airport, ICAO: EDFH is located in the western area of central Germany next to the town of Hahn and approximately 120 km from the city of Frankfurt. During the Cold War era Hahn Air Base as it was known at the time was a frontline NATO air facility used by the United States Air Force. In 1993 most of Hahn Air base was turned over to the civil German authorities and became a civilian airport. Due to its somewhat remote location the fees that the airport charges to its carriers are low making it popular with budget carriers like Ryanair which uses it as a major base of operation.

Its runway 03/21 is 12,467ft long and equipped for ILS operations. Due to the low visibility conditions often encountered in the fall and winter seasons runway 21 has also been approved for cat 3 operations. In 2010 just under 4 million passengers used the airport and its facilities.

Installation

Aerosoft recently updated the installation routine so it is now a simple one step process to install and activate the addon when you have an active internet connection. Once the scenery has been installed it will connect to their servers and authenticate the software, there is no longer a need to run the Aerosoft Launcher program for this purpose. The installer also adds the scenery to the FSX scenery library.

You also have the choice to activate the newly installed software later via a new option that can be found on the FSX menu bar. The manual has four full pages dedicated to this new process taking you through it step by step.

File size for EDFH is a hefty 589Mbs with an installed size of 900Mbs.

Configuration

The airport comes with a AESLite and so we have the AES EDFH Configuration utility that allows you to enable or disable dynamic vehicle traffic .

Documentation

Available from the product webpage and with the purchased product is a German/English manual. Most of the manual is made up of familiar content such as describing the install and uninstall procedures, system requirements, FSX settings, (which should always be considered as compulsory reading) and then some general airport information.

Aerodrome charts are not included but are readily available on the internet.

Airport

The developers have used a combination of hi resolution ground textures, mesh and custom buildings and objects to recreate and bring to life a very realistic depiction of Frankfurt-Hahn Airport. They have modelled both the current civilian airport and the former air force base.

Ground Textures

They use hi resolution textures for the entire coverage area giving it a realistic appearance. Only when viewed at extremely low levels did some of the areas such as the roadways display some blurriness.

Hard surfaces such as the taxiways and aprons showcased their use of hi resolution textures and in these areas you can also see weathering and the effects of wear and tear from years of aircraft traffic.  Overall the textures were very good.

Buildings

Frankfurt-Hahn doesn’t have any fancy architecture like you see at many other European airports. By using photo textures, detailing and precise object placement they have given us a very convincing recreation which looks especially good from a pilot’s point of view. All of the hangars, the main terminal, control tower, fuel farm, open multi-level garage plus all of the buildings that were part of the former Hahn AB are all realistically modelled.

Due to the airport’s overall simplicity this could have been an unexciting airport to be at but because of their fine work they have made it something worth checking out. I believe that it’s the extra details that you see up close that make the difference here. On the various buildings they include such things as external light fixtures, guard rails, transparent balcony walls, recessed doorways and more. You can easily see how they’ve incorporated these types of enhancements into the main terminal and control tower.

I was happy to see that they also added roof top detailing as well on the airport’s buildings. This is something that is often forgotten when developers model an airport addon. To include them makes a positive difference especially when flying overhead.

Objects and Vehicles

The quality of the objects and vehicles used in the scenery are all of a very high standard. They’ve strategically and logically placed them throughout the airport grounds in such a way to enhance the airport’s realistic and busy look.

They are some that are somewhat unique and worth checking out; the taxiway signs for example have a spiked top edge which I expect is to deter birds from landing and perching on them. Another object type which caught my eye was the airport’s extensive use of portable metal barriers, they can be seen in a number of locations including the front of the main terminal and adjacent cargo hangar. The thing I liked here was the realistic way in which they were placed, they weren’t lined up in neat tidy rows, instead they were slightly askew as if someone had moved them and not placed them back exactly as they had been before.

There are a few spots where I felt the scenery could have used some additional vehicles to make the scenery more complete. Around the cargo hangars and more specifically near the loading doors there were no vehicles of any type and so these areas looked deserted. Another place was the large parking lot near the main terminal. This is a large open area and looks barren without any cars parked here.

Taxiway signs were a problem at Frankfurt-Hahn because the majority were incorrectly labelled. This was brought up in the forums but the answer seemed to indicate that they had no plans to correct them any time soon. Admittedly this is only a problem if you are the type of simmer who likes to use them but knowing that they aren’t accurate takes something away from the overall scenery authenticity.

Animations

The scenery comes with AESLite which means that besides having static vehicles they have also included moving vehicles as part of the airport scenery. The different airport vehicles can be seen moving around the aprons and nearby roads bring them to life. This feature is one that I think makes a huge positive difference enhancing the visuals of any airport.

Surrounding Area

Included as part of the scenery is an area surrounding the airport. The area is large enough that it gives you that extra touch of realism during approaches and departures. The landscape is mostly rural with several small towns such as Hahn, Scheid and Lotzbeuren modelled; all include both custom and standard autogen. The area also has a few interesting features found immediately to the east of the airport like the Kartbahn Hahn track, Hahn AB ammunition depot and a golf course.

There were however some visual problems with this part of the scenery, more specifically the strip of land immediately east of the airport. A good portion of the terrain along this side of the airport is slopped but unfortunately the buildings don’t follow the variations in the landscape with the result being some buildings are floating above the ground and others are partially buried in the side of the slopes. This issue was brought up in their forums and it was suggested by support that it could have been caused by incorrect display settings and to make sure the recommended settings were being used. I was fully compliant with the settings given in the product manual and in spite of that still had the problem. I tried experimenting with the display settings but found that in the end no matter the problem still existed.

Another issue had to do with the placement of some of the buildings on the photo ground textures in this general area; they simply weren’t lined up.

One last problem again in this same general area was with trees poking up through the roof tops of buildings.

Seasonal Textures

They have all of the seasons covered in this scenery with ground textures that reflect the subtle differences brought about by these seasonal changes.

The most difficult season to do properly is winter. They include white ground textures to show snow cover in the grassy areas. For roads and parking lots near to the airport they kept some snow cover in these less travelled areas so it looks more realistic. Where they fall short in my opinion and I have seen this with most other developers is with the building roof tops, they show no signs of any snow. This takes away from the overall winter effect.

Approaches

One of the best parts of this airport for me was practicing my take offs and landings. The airport is ideal for doing this type of activity; it has a simple layout, there is infrequent aircraft traffic, the terrain is flat and it has instrument landing system capabilities.

Final Thoughts

You can add Frankfurt-Hahn to the list of detailed German airports from Aerosoft.

They have taken a modest looking airport and made it a place you will want to frequent.  Granted it has a few problems but overall I still enjoyed the airport especially as a place where I could practice my piloting skills.

My Ratings

Installer: Very good, simple to use.

Documentation: Good, good explanation of new activation procedures. Does not include charts.

Modelling: Very good. Some mesh issues but only a minor annoyance.

Extras: AESLite provides animated vehicle traffic.

 

Download Size: FSX 589Mb Installation size: 900Mb

Price: EUR 13.40 without VAT

Developer Homepage: http://www.aerosoft.de

Link: http://secure.simmarket.com/aerosoft-online-frankfurt-hahn-x.phtml

Test System:

Intel i7 960 OC @ 4.2 Ghz, 6 Gb RAM, EVGA GTX560 Ti w/1.2 Gb video, Win 7 Ultimate 64, FSX w/acceleration, Ultimate traffic 2, REX Overdrive, GEXn, UTX, AES, GSX.

Richard Desjardins

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