M. R. Štefánik Airport also known as Bratislava Airport or Bratislava-Ivanka Airport; ICAO: LZIB, is the main international airport of Slovakia and is named after general Milan Rastislav Štefánik. Geographically the airport is located in the extreme western portion of the country just a few kilometers from the point where the borders of Slovakia, Austria and Hungary meet. In 2011 a total of 1.5 million domestic and international passengers passed through the airport. It has two runways; 04/22 @ 9,515ft and 13/31 @ 10,466ft.
The scenery is a detailed reproduction of the airport and includes the Terminal A building which was completed in 2012. A large area surrounding the airport has also been spruced up.
The product is available for both FSX and FS2004. File size for the FSX version which is the one I am reviewing is a rather large 555Mbs.
Installation is simple but requires an active internet connection to receive your personalized authorization code. Once this code is entered the process will continue through to completion. The entire process is straightforward and easy to follow. The final step adds the airport to the FSX scenery library.
Available from SimMarket’s product purchase page is an online tutorial that takes you through each screen of the installation process. I’ve included the link below. It is very well written and shows you exactly what you’ll need to do.
During the installation you will be given the choice as to whether or not you want 3D grass to be installed. No other configuration options are available.
They include a very brief four page product manual that comes in two formats; PDF and Word. The manual contains some short explanations for; installation, performance, charts, winter textures and support.
Included with the airport scenery is an extensive set of real world charts which I found to be very useful.
The entire scenery coverage area has been rendered using high resolution photo scenery images. To give the ground textures at the airport a more realistic look they’ve added 3D grass (if enabled) and this does make a big positive difference especially if you are taxiing in a small aircraft.
Hard surface textures are made of high resolution images as well, so what we see is a very good representation of how these areas actually look. They’ve included the customary visual enhancements such as rubber marks in touchdown zones and dirt in the aircraft stands. We also see some evidence of surface deterioration. On the arrivals side of the terminal they’ve recreated the large parking lot and connecting roadways with graphic images that are much more crisp and clear than the photo images and the look is very good however when viewed from above the contrast in sharpness is really obvious and makes the photo scenery look that much more blurry.
The airport’s structures look quite good. Using high resolution graphic images is the key here to making them look realistic. Many also have extra details added to augment what we see in these images.
The standout structure at Bratislava is the airport’s new terminal building. They have clearly put a great deal of effort into recreating it. The large glassed walls, covered walkways and curved rooftop are all made to look very realistic and for me was a major highlight in this scenery. The arrivals side also has a whole host of small intricate details that when viewed at ground level make you feel as if you were there. No matter how you look at it you can’t help but be impressed by their work.
In addition to the passenger terminal building there are other airfield structures that have been modelled and they include the control tower, met building, fire station, several large hangars and a few small admin buildings. All are located in the area between runways 13 and 04.
These buildings aren’t as new as the main terminal and we can clearly see that thanks to the excellent detailed images they use. Signs of rusting metal and discolouration of painted surfaces on many buildings likely due to aging and exposure to the elements are evident.
Rooftops were given some attention which is always nice to see. Here to they use high resolution images augmented in some cases with additional details. Hangar C and the main terminal, which happen to also be the two largest structures at the airfield, have details that are clearly visible.
Objects and Vehicles
Lined up along the apron’s edge are a variety of vehicles and objects that appear to be waiting to service incoming aircraft. The models are detailed and look very good. They are definitely a positive addition to the airport scenery. The diversity in the types of objects is quite good, scattered about the airport are freight, wooden pallets, fencing and several static helicopters to name just some of the objects they’ve added. The same high quality can also be seen throughout the airport in the different vehicle types such as fuel bowsers, baggage tugs, DHL delivery vans and mobile power units.
Some objects are exceptional in their quality and here are a few examples that clearly showcase this. Approach lighting is definitely one of them and then on the arrivals side of the terminal there are more examples. Near the terminal we see flower pots, signage and safety gates. I love what they did here. It’s too bad that the intricacies of these visual enhancements is only visible when viewed at close range.
Something I was disappointed with was the lack of any PAPI light fixtures, they were nowhere to be found. The points of light are clearly visible as you make your approach but the fixtures are nowhere to be found. Considering the quality of the product and everything else they include I was very surprised at this significant omission.
The airport includes some animated vehicle traffic which can be seen moving along the roadways on both sides of the airport’s terminal. This is nice to see as it always helps breathe life into any airport; especially true here as this airport is not overly busy.
Surrounding the airport is an area that has been enhanced using high resolution photo ground textures populated with generic objects/autogen. Looking at the comparison screenshots the result is a more immersive environment as you fly around the immediate area. Most definitely a huge improvement over the default scenery however, except for the use of photo scenery for the base, it clearly wasn’t meant to be an accurate recreation of the nearby city.
When the product is installed you only get summer textures. To fly in the winter and get the proper ground and tree textures you’ll need to download the T2G-switcher.exe file from the Taxi2Gate forums page. Running the switcher will give you the desired winter textures. After the transformation to winter the airport had that cold snow covered look; the ground was white and the trees bare or snow covered.
They did add some sparse snow cover in certain less travelled areas of the aprons however the runway/taxiway/apron edges were perfectly straight which I think is not realistic. I live in a northern climate with the white stuff and have yet to see snow clearing equipment leave a perfectly straight line when plowing roadways or parking lots. Another area often forgotten are building rooftops and unfortunately that is the case here.
To return to summer textures you must run the Repair LZIB FSX program which you will find in the scenery’s program group.
Night flying left me with some mixed feelings. Most of it was well done however there were a few items I thought could have been improved upon. Let me begin with what I liked. Building lighting was great, both interior and exterior lighting were well done giving them a realistic night time look. The way building exterior lighting illuminated the walls also looked very believable.
Not a surprise was how your eye is drawn to the new terminal at night just as it is during the day. With the great images they use for the large glassed walls it’s as if you are looking right through into its interior.
I saw problems with the taxiway/runway/approach lighting; in certain situations they weren’t visible. Flying approaches head on they usually appeared as they should, however it is when I was not looking at them head on that I saw this problem. I also noticed that many of the lights didn’t line up with the physical light fixtures or there were simply no light fixtures for the spots of light.
Runways 22 and 31 are equipped for ILS approaches. I flew these using several different aircraft and found them to be accurate. The fact that they modelled some of the area surrounding the airport made the approaches seem much more realistic as well.
Despite having a few negative observations, one of which is the missing PAPI light fixtures, the airport is very well done and was a joy to experience. The scenery includes some exceptional work such as the new terminal building. This is definitely one you might want to add to your list of future acquisitions.
Installer: Very good. Simple to use.
Documentation: Manual was brief. Package includes a full set of airfield charts.
Modelling: Very good.
Extras: Some animated road and apron traffic.
Download Size: FSX 555MB FS2004 116MB
Price: EUR 14.98 without VAT
Developer Homepage: http://www.taxi2gate.com
Intel i7 960 OC @ 4.2 Ghz, 6 Gb RAM, ASUS 480GTX w/1.5Gb video, Win 7 Ultimate 64, FSX w/acceleration, UT2, REX Overdrive, GEXn, UTX, AES 2.20d