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Review of AEROSOFT – YEKATERINBURG X for FSX

 

Yekaterinburg Airport aka: Koltsovo Airport, ICAO: USSS, is located 16kms southeast of Yekaterinburg, Russia. It was opened in 1928 and like so many other airports it was originally a military airfield. In 1943 it became a civilian airport and in 1993 acquired its international status. In recent years it has seen the completion of a new domestic terminal, international terminal and control tower.

The airport, which now serves over 50 destinations worldwide, is the 5th largest airport in Russia and had just over 2.3 million passengers use its facilities in 2007. Koltsovo airport has 2 runways; 08R/26L @ 9,925ft and 08L/26R @ 8,192ft.

Installation

To install this product is a simple one step process. You run the executable and like every other Aerosoft product you must provide your registration information check the path to FSX and the rest is taken care of by the installer. The scenery will be added to the FSX scenery library during the installation routine. Upon completion you are asked of you want to run the Aerosoft Launcher Setup program, there is no need to activate the product once installed so this step is optional. Just a quick note, if you look in “…\Microsoft Flight Simulator X\Aerosoft” you will see that the scenery is installed in a directory called Koltsovo 2012.

Configuration

The only configuration option available is to change the seasonal textures and this is done via the Seasons tool.

Documentation

They include a 12 page manual of which the last six pages are charts. In the manual portion the information is kept brief but still informative. The highlights I took away from it are that the FSX Scenery Complexity should be set to extremely dense in order to see all of the objects plus they have a nice little chart to show how the months of the year relate to the seasons of the year in the context of this scenery addon.

The charts included consist of; ILS approach charts (one for each runway) and a parking and aerodrome ground chart. For those wanting a more complete set, if you do an internet search you will find that they are readily available.

The Scenery

Looking at the comparison screenshots one could label the FSX version as a non-airport as there are no runways and only a token few buildings. The addon includes the airport along with some of the surrounding area.

Ground textures

Ground textures were quite good overall as they use photo textures for the base. They also added volumetric grass along the runway/taxiway edges.

Hard surfaces were excellent and had a very realistic look with textures that showed off differences in material and the effects of traffic and weather.

I was happy to see that they enhanced the textures for the large lot situated in front of the terminal buildings giving it a crisp detailed look.

Buildings

Every airport usually has a building that stands out and at Koltsovo we have two; the modern Terminal A and B building/control tower and the older more traditional looking VIP terminal building. These are two strikingly different buildings but they share the common elements of looking realistic plus plenty of detailing.

Starting with the largest structure at the airfield which is the terminal A and B building you see that it has a modern clean look with the exterior consisting mainly of glass and grey metal walls.

The terminal has a number of glassed in staircases, jetways and walkways. They are all fully transparent with detailed interiors; extremely well done.

The building’s rooftop which is quite large has also been given some attention so we see that there are a number of air conditioning units plus ventilation stacks. The control tower which is also part of this larger building also has some antennas and clearance lights on its rooftop.

The older VIP terminal which was originally opened in 1954 has its own set of interesting features.  One of the most noticeable is the spire, they captured its intricacies which include the roofline and open railing which can be seen just below the windows. The building also has a series of columns on both the front and rear of the building, a large clock which faces the parking lot and some wrought iron ornamental gates. The work they put into this classic looking building has made it a treat to look at.

There are a number of other buildings at the airfield which are more or less typical airport structures; there are various types of hangars, storage buildings, fire station, fuel station and communications buildings. The airport also has a small rail station which consists of a simple open platform with a distinctive curved roof; they included this but there are no tracks or trains.

In addition to all of the airport’s structures they have also included some other buildings that are in the immediate vicinity of Koltsovo airport.  Two of the best examples of the custom buildings are the Angelo Hotel and the Ural Airlines headquarters building.

There is also a large residential neighbourhood just north of the airport that contains a number of apartment buildings and other structures.

Objects and Vehicles

Throughout the airport I saw the standard variety of objects and vehicles I was expecting to find at a large airport such as this. The quality, quantity and placement of these items was well done. This is a Russian airport and so many of the objects and vehicles, although similar to those found in many western countries, do show some differences in design. This was especially noticeable with some of the vehicles. I was happy to see that they chose to include these as it adds to the regional look and feel. This is an important factor in making the airport that much more authentic.

They did add some extra bits and pieces to make it more interesting to look at.  In front of the terminal buildings there is a large parking lot, here we see security gates and pylons, pole lights along with several informational signs and advertising billboards. They have also placed a variety of cars and light trucks to populate the area so it doesn’t look deserted. This is definitely a plus as it gives us the sense that things are happening.

At the airport’s main entrance there is a monument; a replica of the BI-1 which was the first Russian jet fighter that designed during the Second World War.  I think that it’s important for developers to add these types of small airport specific touches to their products when they get the chance.

Something that I feel would have benefited the package was if they had added some static aircraft strategically placed in some of the lesser used parking areas. Although this is a large airport there are times when it is quiet and the pictures I have seen show aircraft parked in those areas.

Animations

They include animated road traffic both at the airport and on nearby roadways.

Seasons

Of all the seasons winter is the one that I find developers seem to have the biggest problem with. All too often they simply make the ground cover white and nothing else changes. I am very happy to state that this is not the case here, in addition to the white ground cover several other features really stood out while looking over the scenery. The first was how they handled snow on the airport’s hard surfaces (runways, taxiways and aprons); what we see looks very very real.  You’ll see in the screenshots that they left some snow cover along the edges, plus those areas that have little or no traffic remained snow covered and finally we see what looks like a fine dusting of snow just about everywhere else like the wind had been blowing around the loose powder snow. You can almost feel the cold.

The other area that developers tend to overlook are the building rooftops but they took care of that as well. When you select winter in the seasons tool it will replace the normal rooftop textures with some that show snow cover.

Night

It was no surprise to see that the night time rendition was well done. Ground and apron lighting were both good however I found the apron lighting to be dim compared to what I am accustomed to seeing at other airports.

Building lighting both interior and exterior were also very well done, I thought that it was very realistic. It was interesting to see that the interiors of the transparent jetways and walkways were lit up at night.

Approaches

I executed ILS approaches into all of the runways without any problems. Frequencies and runway alignments were all accurate.

Performance

Although performance remained high I did notice some stuttering while taxiing with complex aircraft such as the PMDG 737NGX.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve never had a reason to fly in Russia you have one now. The developers have taken this airport that was forgotten in FSX and turned it into one that you ‘ll want to have as a regular destination.

My Ratings

Installer: Very Good. Simple to use.

Documentation: Good but brief. Minimal charts included.

Modelling: Very good.

Extras: Animated road traffic included.

Download Size: FSX 204Mb

Price: EUR 15.08 without VAT

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

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

Test System:

Intel 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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