As you might have noticed from recent news releases, Aerosoft’s Airport Enhancement Services (AES for short), reviewed by meÂ here not long after its initial release, has been undergoing a growth spurt recently, to include not only yet more airports under its auspices, but also an entirely new sim – FSX to be precise, although not in DX10 preview mode, so if you are one of those that uses DX10 exclusively, you’ll either have to not use AES, or turn back to FSX’s native DX9.
I’m sure that a number of people who used to have AES in FS9 but upgraded to FSX won’t be that worried about this product being available anyway. I mean apart from the fact that the pushback works properly, FSX does a lot of what AES did anyway, doesn’t it? Moving gates that dock with the aircraft, baggage loaders, visible pushback trucks… Well, yes, but the developer has upped AES’s capability there as well. As a result, even for those who didn’t think it was really worth the outlay, it seems a good idea to revisit the product in FSX and bring the review up to date.
Although the core functionality of AES hasn’t changed massively, there’s enough new to warrant at least downloading the package, installing the default Nuremberg package and giving it a go. It still excels at getting you out of that insanely tight corner at Frankfurt that ATC sent you to, it still has a follow me car that doesn’t follow the route ATC wanted you to to the stand and it still has moving gates that are accurate to the airport you are departing from or arriving at. All that worked well under FS9 and still does in 2.x, but now in addition to the baggage truck(s) on the starboard side, you can call up and request catering and cleaning trucks which dock in appropriate positions around the aircraft, including doors equivalent to the those you’ve set up for passengers on the port side. Talking of the port side, if you now park at a remote stand, or at a location that doesn’t have jetways, all is not lost any more – you now get mobile air stairs, in a variety of different combinations, so your passengers can disembark. When they do, they don’t need to walk very far either – one or more buses will arrive shortly after you select the “disembark” option, to collect them, then drop more off with the “embark passengers” option as well. There are a few issues at certain airports, where FSX allocates the gate a pushback tug, baggage loader, etc, and so does AES, but thankfully these are fairly few and far between.
Although the number of airports supported by AES in FSX is relatively small still – less than 40 compared to FS9’s in excess of 200 total – it is growing and includes a number of popular developers’ products. Yes, you do still need to have the airports to apply AES to and yes, all but one of them in FSX (the default EDDN “demo” airport) are payware, but that probably reflects the lack of detailed airports available in FSX far more than it reflects a lack of desire to support freeware on the part of the developers. The other issue is that there is still no central resource for aircraft files that I can find, so apart from the default models, you still have to go through every aircraft you want to use setting up the nosewheel and door positions. There is, however, now a button to fix the issues that used to occur during pushback. If your aircraft hops about, rather than having to manually edit the aircraft.cfg file without knowing exactly what you are doing, you can fix it in one click and a backup is created as well, in case it all goes wrong.
It’s fair to say that not everyone has a computer powerful enough to use AES to best effect in FSX. For airliners such as those I tested the package with including the LDS B763, CS B757s, FT/Wilco A320 series and Embraer Jets, you do need to a fairly beefy system to run them at detailed airports, with AI traffic around you as well. Remember, however, that although it now works in FSX, all of these additons (as well as over five times the number of airports) are available in FS9 as well.
The amount of use you will get out of Aerosoft Airport Enhancement Services is the only real thing that can tell you whether you will want it or not. With the changes made since version 1, however, allowing more realistic operations at a much wider variety of airports, if you spend any amount of time at all flying airliners between add-on airports, you might want to take a look at it.