Posted in: Add-on or Expansion Pack, FSDG, FSX, Reviews, Scenery Tags: , , , ,

Review of Flightsim Development Group – SHARM El-SHEIKH 2012 v1.2 for FSX

Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport, ICAO: HESH, which was formerly known as Ophira International Airport, is an international airport located in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. It is the second busiest airport in Egypt after Cairo International airport. It was originally the site of an Israeli Air Force base but after the land was returned to Egypt, as part of the Camp David Accords, it became a civilian airfield.

The airport currently has two terminals, Terminal 2 which was the original terminal and Terminal 1 which was completed in 2007; there are plans for a third. Just under 9 million passengers passed through the airport’s facilities, with many travelling to and from the nearby resorts. The airport has two runways; 04L/22R and 04R/22L, each 10,108ft long.

Installation

The installation process is simple but requires an internet connection. When you run the installer and accept the terms of licence a notice screen will appear telling you that your browser will open to be able to register the product. You will be asked to enter your email address and the serial key that was provided at the time of purchase. The next screen will give you an authentication code that you should write down as you will need to enter it on the next screen. There is also a note here that tells you how many activations are left. After this you will confirm the path to FSX and the program group title and the installer does the rest. When you are done you will see that the scenery has been added to the FSX scenery library and is ready to go.

You will also now have a program group: SimMarket\FSDG – Sharm El-Sheikh 2012.

Configuration

There are no configuration options available with this scenery addon.

Documentation

The included manual is a concise and clearly written nine page document. In it you will find some nice background and technical information on the airport and the surrounding area. Also included are such topics as recommended settings and a page of F.A.Q.s.

Unfortunately charts have not been included, however like with most other airports they are available from a number of sources on the internet and can be easily located and downloaded.

The Scenery

In FSX, Sharm El-Sheikh airport does exist but it was only given a minimal amount of attention. FSDG have given the airport and surrounding area a complete makeover.

Ground textures

Ground textures in this package like most other scenery addons are made from photo textures. The quality is quite good so you can make out some of the natural landscape features even at very low altitudes. On the north side of the airport, where we see the parking lots and the entrance and service roadways, they’ve enhanced the textures so the painted markings which are often too blurry at ground level are easily distinguishable. In the area around the terminals we can also see that the grounds are quite green which is a stark contrast to the sandy browns seen everywhere else. It gives the airport an oasis like appearance when viewed from above.

The hard surface textures used for the runway/taxiway/aprons are also very well done and look quite realistic.

Buildings

I always find this part of every scenery very interesting as I enjoy seeing the different types of architecture each airport has to offer; it’s like fingerprints and snowflakes, no two airports are the same. When you look at Sharm El-Sheikh you immediately notice the Terminal 1 building because of its unique shape. Inspired by the indigenous Bedouin culture it is made of three parts; two large circular halls with billowy type roofs joined together by a wedge shaped central section known as the “boat’. The developers have done a wonderful job at recreating this lovely building capturing the soft lines and “organic” look. Many of the building’s outside walls are floor to ceiling glass and the textures they’ve used appear to let us see into the building giving it a transparent look. There are no jetways at either terminal as well.

Next to terminal 1 is a small square building which wouldn’t draw a second look except for the A/C units that are clearly visible when viewed from overhead. I suspect that this building provides the cooling to the terminal facilities at Sharm El-Sheikh.

A characteristic common to many structures at the airfield is the use of large bricks or stone panels on the walls. This gives them an ornamental look especially in those areas where they use the stones to create various designs.

Located just to the east of terminal 1 is terminal 2 which is a large low structure that looks rather unassuming in comparison to its neighbour. Terminal 2 is much more conventional in design having a rectangular shape. The most noticeable feature is its large arch passing over the departures entrance. The developers have done a great job in adding lots of discrete detailing to give this building a bit more character and visual appeal. The otherwise plain looking walls have been made more interesting by making the doorways and windows indented so it gets rid of the flat look. The building’s rooftop was also given some extra attention by adding such items as vents, walkways, antennas and piping.

East of the two terminal buildings is the control tower. From a distance it looks pretty basic as well but up close you can see that the main column has some smaller more intricate components. Like terminal 2 they’ve included some rooftop details such as antennas plus external railings, A/C units, vents and an access ladder. Completing the tower area are several satellite dishes on the ground next to its base.

In addition to the 2 terminal buildings and tower the airport has a cargo terminal, two large hangars in the eastern end of the airport, a fuel farm and number of small buildings. I have to say that each one of these, regardless of their size, was recreated with an eye towards realism. I was extremely pleased with this aspect of the scenery. There is definitely a middle eastern flair to the architecture here at Sharm El-Sheikh and they’ve done a great job at capturing the look. One other thing I’d like to mention about the buildings is the way they’ve given them the appearance of weathering; although the area doesn’t have to deal with snow there is the high heat and exposure to the sun. When you look at the buildings you get a sense that they’ve been exposed to both of these elements.

Objects and Vehicles

Throughout the entire coverage area are various types of objects and vehicles associated with normal airport activities. Those that have been included are very well done and add to the visual appeal of the product giving it an extra layer of realism. As you can see in the screenshots they took great pride in making them look realistic and placing these objects so that the airport is not just a static empty place.

I was also happy to see that the main parking lot located in front of the terminal buildings had been populated with vehicles and that they made a point of adding quite a few large tour buses. A nice touch considering the amount of tourist traffic that uses this airport.

There was one problem however and it had to do with the omission of the approach lighting fixtures. Despite having excellent runway and taxiway edge lighting the approach fixtures were non-existent.

Animations

They include animated vehicle traffic within the airport and on some of the nearby roadways.

Surrounding Area

The surrounding area as I had mentioned earlier has also been upgraded as part of this addon. Through the addition of more accurate landclass, coastlines, road adjustments and mesh the finished product is by far much more representative of what you’d see in this area. The default landclass had the vast majority of the area around the airport looking like farmland rather than the desert like landscapes that are actually here.

The other big improvement is seen along the coastlines. The combination of these accurate coastlines and photo ground textures along with the custom and standard autogen allows the flightsim pilot to appreciate the beauty of the resorts found along the Red Sea coast. In the FSX version none of these are present. All of this goes a long way to enhance the visuals and to make the departures and arrivals feel and look much more realistic.

Night

Night lighting was very well done. All of the various light sources, be it overhead lighting, ground lighting, apron lighting or building lighting, looked realistic. They even have the glow from the taxiway/runway signs lighting up the ground in their immediate area.

I also noticed that some of the overhead lighting appeared to project a halo effect which was what you’d expect to see when the air was humid and there was a haze. I thought this was an interesting effect and I liked it.

Approaches

I made a number of successful approaches to each of the four runways using both ILS and VOR and in accordance with published charts and found that they were accurate.

Performance

Smooth as silk is one way to describe it; I never encountered any problems running this scenery.

Final Thoughts

This is the second airport released by this group and they continue to set a very high standard. I was disappointed in their decision to forgo the inclusion of approach lights but besides that everything else is top notch. There is a good chance that Sharm El-Sheikh airport was not on your radar but now with this recent release you might want to add it to your list of places to go.

My Ratings

Installer: Very good, simple to use.

Documentation: Good. No charts.

Modelling: Excellent quality with lots of details to make it interesting.

Extras: Animated vehicle traffic at the airport and surrounding roadways.

Download Size: FSX 196Mb, FS2004 52Mb

Price: EUR 15.08 without VAT

Developer Homepage: http://flightsimdevelopmentgroup.com

Link: http://secure.simmarket.com/fsdg-sharm-el-sheikh-2012.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

Comments are closed.