Originally released back in 2008 Aerosoft recently re-released their Madeira X scenery incorporating a number of scenery enhancements. To quote from the Aerosoft New Releases and Updates Forum here is the post from Shaun Fletcher.
“We have just released a brand new version of Madeira X! The scenery has been completely overhauled and now offers new technical highlights and an optimized display of details and performance. The approach lights including the lead-in lighting system is now brighter, more realistic and implemented as 3D object. AES-Lite includes animated vehicle traffic on and around the airport for more realism.”
The package recreates the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira including the islands of Madeira, Porto Santo and Desertas along with detailed and accurate reproductions of the airports of Madeira (LPMA) and Porto Santo (LPPS).
Madeira airport (LPMA) often referred to as Funchal airport and formerly known as Santa Catarina airport is located near Funchal, Madeira, Portugal. Opened in 1964 the airport has undergone some major changes including the lengthening of its rather short 5,249ft runway to its current length of 9,110ft. The airport placed 9th in the list of most dangerous airports by the History Channel’s Most Extreme Airports television show. It was also ranked as the 2nd most dangerous in Europe after Gibraltar. Slightly over 2 million passengers passed through the airport in 2010.
The second airport included in the addon is Porto Santo airport (LPPS) which is located on the island of Porto Santo. It was actually the first airport with infrastructure to see service in the Madeira islands receiving its first flight in 1960. At the time of opening the runway 18/36 was 7,200ft long but has since been lengthened and is now 10,345ft. A new passenger terminal was also opened in 1995. In 2010 roughly 103,000 passengers used the airport.
I’d like to begin by saying that the file size for the addon is a rather large 1.21Gbs, but then again you are getting the Madeira Archipelago plus two detailed airports so the size understandable. Installation as with every other Aerosoft product was straight forward, you will be required to input the registration info you were given at the time of purchase. Once the product installation is done the Aerosoft Launcher program will start automatically checking the currently installed version of this software and upgrading if required. There is no online verification with this scenery addon. Running the Aerosoft Launcher with the Madeira X scenery will give you access to the Options Tool and the Manual and Charts documentation.
I would like to mention something that I encountered that others may as well. If you have FSGlobal 2010 installed you will in all likelihood run into an elevation problem at LPMA. It is not mentioned in the manual but was brought up in the support forums. If you take note of this little tip you can save yourself some searching and grief; go to the FSGX2010\localmeshes\scenery folder and find the “cvxLPMA.bgl” file and rename it to “cvxLPMA.off”. Doing this will eliminate the elevation problem. This is in addition to the airport elevation problem mentioned in the FAQ section of the manual.
Configuration options are limited with Madeira X. Like other Aerosoft products they are accessed via the familiar looking configuration tool seen below. Through the tool you can enable or disable traffic as you see fit in the areas indicated.
There are no options available for Porto Santo airport.
The package comes with a scenery manual written in both German and English and a charts manual; both are in the PDF format.
The manual is well laid out and easy to read with lots of good information; technical and general. The last part of the manual, the Appendix has several pages of FAQs plus screenshots with Aerosoft’s recommended settings. I strongly suggest reading this part as there is some very good information here.
A full set of charts for both LPMA and LPPS are included. It should be noted however that they date back to the scenery’s original release date and are not current.
Madeira Airport – LPMA
The airport at Madeira has several features that I think make it special. Probably the most obvious is the runway extension built on pylons and the second is the multilevel system of roadways that border it to the south. Both are recreated in wonderful detail.
The runway extension is supported on 180 concrete columns each 210ft tall. The scenery developers have done a marvellous job at recreating this technical marvel. The airport actually won the “Outstanding Structures Award” in 2004 given by The International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering for the runway extension.
The other notable feature was the network of multi-level roads that flank the airport to the south. It is the combination of the different scenery elements in this instance that make this aspect of the airport noteworthy in my books. Custom mesh, photo scenery, objects and animations; they all come together seamlessly and make it work.
This airport does not have many buildings; there are several garage/storage buildings, a fire station and then the most prominent structure at Madeira airport which is the main passenger terminal and control tower.
In recreating the terminal they’ve included, throughout the entire building complex, some nice details making it interesting from any angle. Looking at it from the tarmac several things stick out; the sidewalk by the tarmac has a two tone wave pattern, the terrace has passengers standing around enjoying the warm weather, and the control tower has a variety of antennae.
On the south side of the terminal building is the elevated enclosed walkway with its multi storey towers. It connects the lower parking levels with the terminal’s entrance. It features a glass enclosed walkway plus the towers have glass walled balconies and the interiors of these have also been modelled to show the elevators. Very well done!
They’ve incorporated many details into the modelling of the other airport buildings as well with many of the details only really noticeable when you observe them up close. Take for example the building behind the fire station. It is a non-descript two storey structure but when you get in close you see that they’ve included such features as balconies with tubular metal railings and staircases.
Objects and Vehicles
Overall they were all good. There was all the usual variety that give the airport that look of being busy plus adding the bits and pieces to make the look complete; all types of lighting, navaids, fencing and many different types of vehicles.
There is an abundance of vehicles here, both static and moving. They’ve populated the various parking lots with passenger vehicles and large buses to make it look very busy; the quality of the models is good however some appeared to be embedded slightly in the ground.
I had mixed feelings about the ground textures used for the airport. The ones used for the apron areas were not bad with the painted lines and markings crisp and clear. The taxiways and runways however appeared washed out and blurry. The other areas such as roadways and parking lots used photo scenery similar to what covers the remainder of the islands.
If there was one additional thing that I think they could have improved on with this update that would have been to replace these runway/taxiway textures with the same hi resolution graphics images used in their other recent airport sceneries.
Porto Santo Airport – LPPS
This airport doesn`t have much in the way of infrastructure. Along the east side of the apron is the terminal building, fire station and control tower and then at the northern tip of the airport near to the shoreline is a military type hangar. The buildings are detailed and look good but I did find that the colouring lacked any kind of shading or shadowing so they weren’t as realistic looking as I like to see them.
As you can see in the next series of screenshots the terminal building has some added details that are only really obvious from close up but I felt needed to be highlighted.
Objects and Vehicles
Not much really to mention here, they include infrastructure objects such as lighting and then some buses, air stairs and baggage trailers. The overall quality is pretty good. I was however very impressed with believe it or not the lamp posts light fixtures. The screenshot shows just how detailed they are, you can see the individual support arms, lighting enclosures and the security camera.
The ground textures here looked sharp and clear. At first I thought that overall everything might have looked too clean but after checking out photographs of the apron area I see that in fact it does look this clean.
The other major part of this scenery addon are of course the islands that form the Madeira archipelago. All three major islands have been recreated using custom mesh, photo scenery and autogen. This combination has let the developers construct a very realistic visual environment of the islands.
The largest of the islands, Madeira, has the most to offer in the way of visuals. It’s 741 km sq area is quite beautiful giving the pilot some remarkable scenery to enjoy. There are lush green valleys, rocky mountainous areas, rugged coastlines and pockets of civilisation scattered throughout. As I flew around the island I couldn’t help but be in awe of the spectacular visuals. I didn’t take me long to see why it is such a popular tourist destination.
I did see several small problems however with the island scenery; there are instances where the ground photo scenery doesn’t match the contours of the landscape. Roads appear on the sides of slopes and are not flat, some autogen appears to be floating or doesn’t line up with the underlying contour and there is the appearance of tearing where you have steep cliffs. With the rugged landscape on the islands I wasn’t surprised to see these types of visual problems. Overall they are minor compared to how realistic the entire package appears.
The second largest island, Porto Santo, is quite a bit smaller having an area of only 47 kms sq with a much less interesting landscape when compared to its much larger neighbour, Madeira. The airport of Porto Santo divides the island in two; to the west the land is relatively flat and to the east quite a bit more rugged and mountainous.
With the update to the scenery they’ve added AESLite to LPMA bringing traffic to the airport and nearby roadways. It is configurable via the Options tool and I recommend enabling it as it does breathe life into this part of the scenery and it didn’t hurt simulator performance. Unfortunately with this package they did not include any traffic to the island or airport of Porto Santo.
If you want to add animations to LPPS you will need to install a separate product; Airport Enhancement Services (AES), which can be gotten at the Aerosoft website for no cost. The airport can be enabled for 0 credits so I highly recommend downloading and installing it.
The night lighting used at the airports and the islands in general were good; ground, approach, apron, building lighting, street lighting were all well done.
The approach to LPMA runway 5 is an interesting one and at night you are given extra visual guidance from the lead in lighting. If you fancy yourself a good pilot you might want to tackle this one!
As I mentioned in my opening paragraphs Madeira airport is considered to be one of the most dangerous airports in the world and runway 5 will give you a run for your money and test your piloting skills. The approach to LPMA runway 23 is less difficult but still requires your full attention. LPPS is a good place to start if you want to acclimatize yourself to the area and prepare for LPMA.
At no time did I experience any problems with performance while running this addon.
I was very impressed with this scenery addon, it provides the best of both worlds; amazing photo scenery visuals and highly detailed and challenging airports. From the novice to the most seasoned pilot everyone will find something here to keep you interested and wanting to come back for more.
Installer: Very good. Two-step process but still simple.
Documentation: Very Good. Informative manual with full set of charts for both airports.
Modelling: Excellent all around.
Extras: AESLite included.
Download Size: FSX 1.21Gb
Price: EUR 23.49 without VAT
Developer Homepage: http://www.aerosoft.de
Intel i7 960 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 2.14