Aerosoft -Barcelona X for FSX review
Barcelona Airport, LEBL, also known as El Prat Airport is located 10 kms southwest of the city of Barcelona Spain on the beautiful Mediterranean. The airport has three runways 07L/25R @ 3,352 m, 07R/25L @ 2,660 m and 02/20 @ 2,540 m. The second largest airport in Spain behind Madrid-Barajas Airport it serves mainly domestic routes and is a major hub for Spanair. In 2009 it served an estimated 27 million passengers.
The product is available for both FSX and FS2004 however my review is of the FSX version.
As far as installers go Aerosoft in my opinion had one of the easiest to use. Recently they’ve changed the installation routine however and although it is still easy to use it is now a two step process; software installation and online activation.
The first part of the process which is the software installation has not changed and is still straightforward. It is here you will be required to provide your registration information, etc and eventually when it is finished the scenery will have been installed and added to the FSX scenery library.
The second part which is new for Aerosoft products is the online product activation process.Â Once you are in the Aerosoft Launcher main screen you will see several tabs, the one labelled Library is where you want to be, here you will see the list of sceneries recognized by the launcher application along with their activation status and access to any manuals, charts and traffic tool. An active internet connection is required to complete the process.
The first configuration option you come across is during the installation routine where you are asked whether or not you want the static aircraft installed. I suggest that if you use any third party AI traffic addons you say no to this.
The only other configuration option available is via the LEBL X Traffic configuration utility. As you can see in the screenshot you can either enable or disable traffic at various locations in the scenery.
The package includes two documents; a 10 page scenery manual and a 35 page charts manual both in PDF format.
The scenery manual is divided into two sections, Introduction and Technical advice with the later being further divided into FSX and FS2004. The introduction is standard fare with a listing of the technical requirements, install and uninstall routines and finally there is some background information on the airport.Â The second part, Technical advice contains separate sections for FSX and FS2004. Here you will find some advice regarding various scenery setting options.
There was no mention anywhere in the documentation about the new Aerosoft Launcher application which you must run to fully enjoy the product.
I was very impressed with the charts manual. I found that it gave me everything I needed; included were ground charts and a full set of SID, STAR and approach charts.
The first thing I looked at was the buildings. What I wanted to see here were accurate representations of the buildings both in their appearance and location. They should include 3 dimensional details rather than simple one dimensional graphic images and the colouring should show signs of weathering.
For the most part I think that the developers have done a good job at meeting my expectations. There are some buildings that I thought were better then others. A good example is the new terminal complex, Terminal 1; it is a large building with lots of glass and curved sloping roof. The walls which are predominantly glass have that illusion of transparency; a feature that you can’t help but notice when you are parked at one of the many gates. The roof is very different because it is curved and not just flat or pitched as most are. They did a really good job at recreating this feature not only in the shape but also in how they coloured it, you get the impression that it has been exposed to the elements, very important point I think. Their attention to detail holds true for all sides as well, the passenger arrival area has a large parking lot that is populated with cars. There is also a raised roadway with moving traffic and detailed road signs. There are lots of details such as these included in other parts of the scenery that you won’t normally come across or notice unless you take the time to move around at ground level.
The control tower however showcases some of the fine detailing they’ve included like the external structural ribbing on the tower base and then the perimeter fencing and various antennae on the roof of the tower.
Looking at the other buildings I could see that they took a great deal of care with them as well. They all contained a reasonable amount of detailing regardless of how significant the structure.
If you were to go to any airport and look around you’d notice all sorts of objects commonly found in this environment; wind socks, ILS/GS/VOR radar, runway/taxiway markers, approach lights, pylons, barriers, fencing, cargo, etc. It didn’t take long to see that they took all of this into consideration when they made Barcelona X because all of these and more were included. It was also no surprise to see that the quality was there as well. This was definitely a highlight of the airport scenery.
This airport is a very hectic place not only because of it’s aircraft traffic but also for the vehicular traffic. Being such a busy place you expect to see vehicles driving around and you do, lots of them; push back tugs, fuel trucks, buses and other service vehicles all driving around thanks to AESLite.Â It was interesting to watch as they made their way about the apron areas. This was another factor that significantly boosted the effective realism of the product.
Ground markings are another important element of any airport experience.Â Like so many other airports of this size the markings can get rather complex and Barcelona is no exception; I observed them to be clear, sharp and accurate.
The textures and markings for all of the hard surfaces were also extremely well done. I found that the high definition textures and subtle colour variations made for a very realistic experience. This was especially evident when on final approach and about to land, looking out through the cockpit window it was like seeing the real thing.
There are several areas where you should see the results of high aircraft traffic. One is the touchdown zones of the runways and the second are aircraft parking spots. The touchdown zones show the results of the many landings that take place on a daily basis and the parking areas show dirt and fuel stains.
The gates at Barcelona X are equipped with functional visual guidance docking systems which will recognize your aircraft type and provide visual guidance clues to bring you in to your parking location. The system did recognize the different aircraft I was attempting to park and each time brought me in successfully. This is another great feature that adds to the overall appeal of the product.
They list as one of the enhancements “Famous buildings of the city of Barcelona” however after flying over the area many times with the scenery both enabled and disabled making comparisons I failed to find any differences to the city of Barcelona. I emailed product support and within 24 hours received a reply which stated that the enhancements were to the FS9 version as FSX by default already included a number of the custom buildings in the region. This is one area where I think they dropped the ball, I realize the scenery is of the airport but had they included photo scenery and additional autogen to enhance the harbour area, this would have made the 25L and 25R approaches much more interesting and would have enhanced the overall appeal of the product.
I found that overall the night time rendition to be very well done with realistic lighting for the aprons, taxiways, runways and approaches. However, there was a slight problem with some of the ground lighting; there were no center line lights on the taxiways. In the daytime you could see where the embedded lights were located but there were no lights at night. This point was noted in the initial release support forum thread and the response was that it would be addressed in a soon to be released patch.
The building lighting at night was average. Although the night time building graphics clearly showed walls and signs lit up the fact that there were no light fixtures visible gave it all had a very one dimensional look.
As with every airport I try and experience different departures and approaches for each runway. Flying the Embraer 170 I was able to successfully complete the ones I tried without any problems.
As you can see in many of the screenshots there was plenty of aircraft and vehicular traffic at Barcelona X, despite the heavy traffic I was able to maintain very good frame rates keeping the sim experience fluid and enjoyable.
Overall Barcelona X is a very nice addon and has all the elements to make it a worthwhile purchase. I was especially impressed with the apron traffic and their recreation of the unique looking Terminal 1 building. If you have any interest in flying around the Mediterranean area you should seriously consider this airport for all it has to offer in both visual appeal and fly ability.
Installer: Easy to use however it is now a two step process to fully install and activate the scenery.
Documentation: Good, but lacked any information on the new Aerosoft Launcher application used for online scenery activation. Â Charts included.
Modelling: Good, decent frame rates considering it is such a busy airport.
Extras: AESLite included for dynamic road traffic in and around the airport.
Download Size: FS2004 94MB, FSX 103MB
Price: EUR 20.97
Intel i7 950 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 2.09