This is the second multi airport release from this group and like the first they have modelled in great detail three Polish airports; Łódź Władysław Reymont Airport (EPLL), Szczecin-Goleniów Airport (EPSC) and Zielona Góra Airport (EPZG). The package is availale for both FS2004 and FSX. My review is of the product released for FSX.
Łódź Władysław Reymont Airport, EPLL, is located in central Poland near the country’s third largest city; Łódź. It was recently named after the celebrated 20th century Polish writer and the winner of the 1924 Nobel Prize in Literature, Władysław Reymont. Originally opened in 1925 it became an important transportation hub in the post second world war era but lost much of it’s importance with the development of the Warsaw airport in the 1950s, this eventually resulted in the suspension of all operations. Efforts to revive the airport began in the 1990’s and a new passenger terminal was built in 1997. To further draw traffic the terminal was again expanded to handle up to 300,000 passengers per year and the runway lengthened to 6890 ft. In 2007 the runway was again upgraded to bring it to it’s current length of 8202 ft. The airport handled just over 413,000 passengers in that same year.
Szczecin-Goleniów “Solidarność” Airport, EPSC, is located in north west Poland and serves as the main airport for the city of Szczecin. It was originally built in the mid 1950s at the height of the Cold War as a standard military airfield. In 1967 the civilian airport at Dabie was relocated to the site and the airport was renamed Port Lotniczy Szczecin-Goleniów. The airport has seen a great number of improvements over the past several decades such as the lengthening of it’s runway to 8202 ft along with upgrades to the infrastructure and the construction of a new passenger terminal and control tower. In 2006 it was again renamed for the trade union Solidarność. The airport saw 304,000 passengers use it’s facilities in 2008.
Zielona Góra Babimost Airport, EPZG, is also located in north west Poland and up until 2004 was a military base. The property was rented to regional civilian authorities with the hope that they could start developing the airport. It has a single 8202 ft runway and a terminal building that can handle a modest 150,000 passengers per year. This is by far the quietest of the three airports having a combined total of only 714 takeoffs and landings in 2007.
The package consists of a single file which is a rather large one at 803Mbs.
The installer is extremely easy to use however you must add the airports manually to FSX. Instructions on how to do this are provided in the documentation.
The scenery files are located on the following FSX directories:
Addon Scenery\Polish Airports vol.2\Documents
The package includes both a manual and charts for the three airports. The manual is very brief having basically two pages of information. The first page has some historical background on each airport along with their official website URLs. The other page consists of several short paragraphs on such topics as installation, charts, scenery features, compatibility, demo and support. The final page has the license agreement. The booklet is basically a PDF version of what you will find on their website’s product info page.
Here are some of the scenery features as listed in the manual.
– Highest level of accuracy in geographic positioning, modelling and texturing
– High quality static aircrafts compatible with any AI traffic
– Photoreal Łódź city with very detailed autogen and some famous landmarks
– Animations and special effects
– High quality photoreal ground in the airport area (5 seasons+night)
– up to 20cm/pix in EPLL
– Product includes custom designed charts in PDF format
Charts are provided and for each airport they have included an aerodrome chart, an approach chart and a VFR chart.
I had the pleasure of reviewing this group’s Polish Airports vol 1 release last summer so when I saw that they had released a vol 2 I was immediately interested. As I recall I found volume 1 to be a very good product overall.
As you can see in the comparison screenshots these airports were little more than runways in FSX. This package completely changes all of that to give you accurate and detailed airports.
I began by taking a quick flight around the three airports to get a feel for each one. My immediate impressions were positive. Each airport is different and has it’s own unique look. One other thing that quickly became apparent was just how quiet they were in comparison to many other airports I had flown in and out of; but quiet doesn’t mean uninteresting.
Let me begin with ground textures. The grassy areas in particular I thought were very realistic looking with hi resolution textures and very good colouring which also varied based on the season.
On the other hand I wasn’t as keen on certain aspects of how they rendered the hard surface areas; my feeling is that in most cases they looked too clean. For airports that were as old as these there were very few signs of wear and tear or weathering which for me I thought was not really an accurate representation of how they should look. To see a runway with no evidence of any rubber stains in the touchdown zones or aprons and parking areas that are pristine looking is very unrealistic in my opinion.
In amongst the hardened aircraft shelters there were some signs of ageing but even here I felt that in most areas they fell short of showing the wear and abuse that these areas would have been subjected to after having been used by military aircraft over the past several decades. The exception here was at EPSC, it looked like it had been well used and much more realistic.
Buildings are definitely a standout feature at any airport and I find it is always interesting to see the different types of architecture and how the developers recreate them in their packages. These airports are no exception with a mix of simple and complex as well as civilian and military.
My favourite buildings had to be the military buildings at EPZG. There are a number of hardened aircraft shelters, a hanger and the tower that are all military vintage. These are by no means fancy but they are interesting and realistic looking. Up close you see the weathering effects with faded paint, dirt stains and what appears to be chipping and peeling paint. I felt that they did a phenomenal job with these structures.
Weathering effects were evident in many of the civilian style buildings as well but were much less pronounced, probably due to the colour schemes and their age.
Another aspect that made their buildings stand out was the use of high resolution bitmaps. These detailed bitmaps can be seen in many different instances such as the large windowed walls of the terminal at Łódź, the canvas type construction of a hanger and the rippled metal look of the hanger doors at Szczecin-Goleniów.
Details are another feature that helps to give many of the buildings a more realistic appearance. The terminal buildings are some of the best examples of added detailing. At Łódź, terminal 2 is a good example where they’ve added the wall mounted exterior light fixtures and on the roof top are some HVAC units. Another instance of where they have added extra details is on the terminal building at Szczecin-Goleniów. Here you can see some very intricate metal ribbing and truss like structures. These have got to rate up there with some of the best I have seen in any scenery up to now. There are also some roof mounted antennae and communications dishes in plain site.
There are a number of (HAS) hardened aircraft shelters located at Szczecin-Goleniów and at Zielona Góra Babimost airports. These HAS are very detailed with several of them modelled with their reinforced doors open allowing you to park your fighter jet inside one of these authentic looking cold war era structures.
The injection of high quality objects helps bring any airport to life enhancing the impression we get that it is a vibrant place full of activity. Looking around each airport I could plainly see a wide variety of items from the small ground lights along the edges of the runways and taxiways to the tall red and white pole lights used to illuminate the parking lots and apron areas. There were of course many other objects modelled such as a wide variety of airport service vehicles, static aircraft, fencing, navigational aids, taxiway signage, approach lighting and even several billboard signs to help in some self promotion. I can’t think of any examples where I wasn’t pleased with the quality and look of what I saw here.
I mentioned before that these are not very busy airports and because of that there is not much in the way of aircraft traffic so what they have done to help make them look busier was to add some strategically placed static aircraft. The addition of these aircraft is an important feature in making these airports look more alive. At Łódź airport they’ve added a Ryanair 737 parked near the terminal complete with mobile stairs and a bus for passenger boarding. Also at Łódź there is an area just east of the runway that has a variety of older mothballed Soviet era military aircraft and helicopters.
At Szczecin-Goleniów airport I saw a few other good examples of static aircraft. Parked in front of a hanger are several colourful crop dusting aircraft.
I did have one major disappointment with this scenery package. That had to be the trees that immediately surround each airport. From ground level they look plush and thick but as soon as you are airborne that all goes away and the reality that they are simply flat images quickly becomes apparent. For some reason they chose to use a type of tree graphic around the airfields that was different from those used in all other parts of the scenery. These same trees did not reflect seasonal differences remaining green all year long unlike the vegetation in the other parts of the scenery.
The numbers of animations are minimal however they did add vehicles such as buses and cars travelling on the roads in the vicinity of the airport terminal buildings and on some of the roads found within the nearby photo scenery areas.
For times of low visibility the runway and approach lighting can be triggered by setting your NAV 2 frequency to 112.00Mhz. This worked at all three airports.
All three airports include an area of surrounding photo scenery with autogen. They use hi resolution graphics which provides for some very nice ground textures, these photo textures also change to reflect the correct season and include night lighting. The size and orientation of the photo scenery seemed to be based on airport approaches and departures which made perfect sense. Doing it that way helped to give a much more realistic environment in those flying situations. The most impressive area had to be east of Łódź Władysław Reymont Airport where much of the city of Łódź has been populated with buildings including several local landmarks such as the Dalkia Łódź power plant and Atlas arena. Within these areas of photo scenery they have also included some moving vehicular traffic. I have UTX Europe and GEXn installed which has a very different look from photo scenery so as you can plainly see the result is a distinct border where the two meet.
Of the four seasons winter is the most distinct because of the obvious white ground cover. They managed to convey snow cover very convincingly at each of the airports and their surroundings with good ground textures and by having some snow along the edges of the runways and less travelled roads. They did however fall short in two areas; the trees that I earlier criticized for their one dimensional appearance remained green regardless of the season and then at EPSC and EPZG where there are military installations there are several grass covered berms which remained green making then stand out as they were surrounded by white ground cover.
Flying in and out of these airports at night was an interesting experience despite the fact that none of these airports is very busy. The quality of the night time rendition was what I had anticipated which is excellent. To start, the night time lighting was all very good and looked very realistic. How they had the building interiors lit up to convey the impression that there may be people working inside was good. Lighting for the apron and parking areas was also very well done. The projected light intensity seemed realistic with the illuminated areas corresponding to the positioning of the pole lighting. In addition to this overhead lighting there is also the ground based lighting along the taxiways, runways and approaches. Again I was very happy with all of these. Overall very good.
I was able to execute successful approaches at all three airports in accordance with the published charts. My favourite had to be the ILS approach into Łódź as it took me over the city which thanks to the developers is rendered in hi resolution photo scenery with lots of autogen.
Performance wise these are smaller regional airports with relatively few structures and very little or no AI traffic so frame rates remained high with all sliders fully to the right. Even those simmers that don’t have cutting edge gaming PCs should have no problems maintaining good frame rates.
I thoroughly enjoyed flying these three airports. There is something here for both civilian and military flying enthusiasts making this a versatile addon. I encourage you to take notice of this developer and consider giving this scenery a try. The hard work that has gone into this package has paid off with the end result being a product that is interesting with lots to see and great value for the price.
Installer: Good. Scenery must be added manually to FSX.
Documentation: Good. Manual and basic airport charts included.
Modelling: Very good. Plenty of detailing, hi res ground textures with autogen.
Extras: Seasonal and night textures included. Areas of photo scenery surrounding each airport.
Download Size: 803Mb
Price: EUR 21.01
Download Size: 465Mb
Price: EUR 21.01
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, UTX, GEXn, AES 2.11