Weeze airport also known as Niederrhein airport is located about 3 kms southwest of the small municipality of Weeze in the Lower Rhine, Niederrhein region of Germany.
Originally known as RAF airbase Laarbruch it was the home to a variety of RAF Squadrons up until it’s closure in 1999. In 2003 it reopened as a civilian airport under the name of Weeze Airport with a single runway 09/27 @ 8005ft long. Today it is mainly used by low cost carriers such as Ryan Air. In 2008 just over 1.5 million passengers used the facilities.
This scenery is available for both FS2004 and FSX however my review is of the FSX version.
File sizes are relatively small @ 315MB for FSX and 231Mb for FS2204 so downloading should not be an issue even for those that may still have a dial up internet connection.
Aerosoft recently changed their installation process to what is now essentially a two step process; installation and then activation.Â The first part is still the familiar Aerosoft installer, straight forward and easy to use. Apart from providing your registration information you need to confirm that the path to FSX is correct, hit next and let it complete the installation. As soon as this is done the second step in the process will begin; scenery activation. For this you must have an active internet connection.
Once the launcher application is started you will be presented with the following screen.
The manual has four pages dedicated to explaining the purpose of this new procedure and application. At this time you will need to select the Library tab where you will see Weeze X listed under sceneries, it should show that the product isn’t activated. You now need to select Activate; in order to successfully activate the product you must have an active internet connection and be running the application with administrative rights. Your information is sent to the Aerosoft servers, when it has been verified the scenery status will change to Active. You are now ready to fully enjoy this product.
There are two configuration tools available with this scenery; the traffic tool and season tool. Both are self explanatory, very easy to use and can be accessed via the Aerosoft\Weeze X program menu or the new Aerosoft Launcher application.
The traffic tool gives you the option to enable dynamic vehicular traffic in a number of areas of the scenery as well as the DX10 preview.
The season tool allows you to load the appropriate seasonal textures for the airport.
Two PDF documents are included; scenery manual and airport charts manual.
For the most part the manual is like every other Aerosoft manual that’s included with their products, it contains information about technical specs, how to install and uninstall the addon, credits and airport information.Â All of this is standard and always worthwhile reading.
They did however add something new in this manual; they explain how and when you will need to use the new Aerosoft Launcher application. Definitely a must read.
Charts are included with the addon. Everything you need as a sim pilot is provided so there is no need to go on the net and download anything.
Let me start out by stating that the quality of the graphics for Weeze X are among some of the best I have come across in any scenery addon.
Colours and how they are used is one of the most important factors of making any object or scenery element look realistic. The colours here are complex and subdued. There are a few scenery developers that seem to have the knack for using colours in such a way that makes you believe that what you are seeing is as close to real as possible and that is the case here. You will easily see what I mean as you go through the various screenshots in this review.
I have broken down my observations regarding the buildings into two sections; civilian and RAF.
On the civilian side the most prominent structure is the main terminal building. A large mulit-storey building it is rather non-descript however it does have a design component that is somewhat unique; it has pergola style roof extensions on the south east and south west corners. It is not very often you see this in a large building and they’ve done a great job in modelling this feature. Another place where many developers seem to drop the ball is the roof tops. Quite often for some reason roof tops end up being flat bitmaps regardless of what happens to be located there. Not the case with this building, they’ve modelled the skylights and along with some very nice colouring the end result is very realistic. As you go through the screenshots you will see that there is much more to this building, look close and check out the people waiting to board their next flight.
Besides the terminal there are a number of other buildings that support the civilian flight operations; you have the control tower, fuel tanks, fire station and the cargo center hanger. In recreating these buildings they have incorporated in addition to their superb colouring many small details that add greatly to the realism of the scenery; details such as railings and stairways, transparent looking windows, exposed ventilation units w/ducting, antennae and lighting.
The remnants of the former RAF base are very easily distinguished by their unique design, bland colouring and layout. There are four main areas which consist primarily of hangers, hardened aircraft shelters or HAS and then some long single storey buildings which I suspect were used for administration and barracks. All of these look extremely realistic, they appear weathered, dirty and neglected from a decade of abandonment. It was very interesting to look at these structures; it is quite a contrast when compared to the civilian airport. The colours are all earth tones and everything blends in very nicely with the surrounding landscape.
The fact that they did such a wonderful job with this part of Weeze I think provides an ideal and realistic location for that sim pilot that’s searching for a place to fly their favourite military jet or helicopter from.
Roof top textures throughout the entire airport are exceptional, they used variations in colour to convey the effects of exposure to the elements as well as neglect especially in those areas formerly occupied by the RAF.
The big stuff is what catches your attention first but it’s all of the other small objects throughout the scenery that help solidify the real sense that this is a place where things are happening. There are a few areas that stood out for me. First is the main apron, I liked how they placed portable power units, mobile stairs and fire extinguishers at various parking spots. They include enough of them so you get the idea that they use these things on a regular basis but not too many so it looks cluttered. Along the perimeter separating the apron from the passenger parking lot is chain link fencing and then you have lamp posts and some low blast fences; all extremely well done. I noticed that at the side of the fire station towards the rear there were some garbage and recycle bins; small seemingly insignificant details that add character to the scenery. The PAPI lighting at Weeze I thought was exceptional, you can see the power cables come up from the underground conduits into the light enclosures.
Ground textures throughout the scenery area were high resolution and extremely well done. The hard surface textures I thought were exceptional. They easily conveyed the fact that this was an older facility and that it had seen lots of traffic over the decades.Â The main apron did also show signs of dirt and fuel stains in the designated parking spots.
The only real complaint I had with the ground bitmaps has to do with those used for the parking lots. The textures show that the lots are full of cars but there are only a handful of 3d vehicles added in these areas. Flying at low altitudes overhead the problem was very noticeable and although a minor issue certainly detracted from what is otherwise an exceptional product.
Night flying around Weeze was a nice experience.Â After seeing how good the daytime rendition looked it was really no surprise to see how well the night time was done. They took the same care with everything from building lighting to ground lighting. Flying into the airport at night you got to see just how effective the approach lighting was. This airport is surrounded by rural landscapes with little or no lighting so it was very easy to spot the runway from a distance because of that and the effect was very impressive.
This airport is in a relatively open area with few obstacles. This made for easy approaches and departures regardless of the aircraft type.Â With an 8000 ft runway and ILS capability it allowed me to fly a variety of aircraft from ultra lights to jet liners with very little difficulty.
Weeze is a great little airport with graphics that are among the best I have seen. With the infrastructure from the days when it was an RAF airfield mostly intact and beautifully rendered there is as much here for the military aircraft enthusiast as there is for the civilian pilot. With a very reasonable price point and great performance this would make a worthwhile addition to any pilot’s repertoire of airports.
Installer: Easy to use but now a two step process with an active internet connection required to fully activate the scenery.
Documentation: Excellent, includes scenery manual and complete set of airport charts.
Modelling: Excellent, among the best I have seen.
Extras: AESLite, traffic and season tools
Download Size: FSX 315MB, FS2004 231Mb
Price: EUR 13.40
Test System:Â 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