Review by Rick Desjardins
This review is of Drzewiecki Design’s updated release of Newark Liberty International Airport, ICAO: KEWR. The airport straddles the boundaries of Newark in Essex County and Elizabeth in Union County in New Jersey. A major gateway to many parts of the world it is the second-busiest airport in the New York airport system behind John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Originally opened in 1928 it has been known as Newark Metropolitan Airport and Newark International Airport. After the hijacking and crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in the September 11 attacks in 2001 while en route from Newark to San Francisco, it was renamed to Newark Liberty International Airport as a tribute to the victims of these attacks and to the landmark Statue of Liberty.
In 2022 the airport served just over 43 million passengers making it the 29th busiest airport in the world for passenger traffic. The airport serves 50 carriers and is the largest hub for United Airlines. The airline serves 63% of its passengers here making it the largest tenant at the airport with FedEx Express coming in second. Between the two they operate in three buildings on 2 million square feet of airport property. The airport has three runways; 4L/22R @ 11,000ft, 4R/22L @10,000ft and 11/29 @ 6,726ft.
Drzewiecki Design recently updated their rendition of Newark Liberty International Airport to version 1.1. It is said to be optimized to a much greater degree in order to provide the user with a better experience allowing us to enjoy all it has to offer without sacrificing performance. Did they succeed? Read on and see.
The installation process is very straightforward. After starting the executable you will be presented with a box whereby you can select what graphic options you want to omit as well as a checkbox to open the included PDF document after installing the product.
The brief three page PDF manual provides some history on the airport along with basic product information.
This is one large and busy airport with lots going and plenty to see. Every part of this airport has been beautifully recreated in stunning detail. You will see in the various screenshots how meticulous they have been in getting it right. Inside and out it is jam packed with all sorts of wonderful details that quite frankly set it apart from any other airport I have experienced in MSFS so far.
Ground textures overall were very good. They made extensive use of high resolution detailed textures for the hard surfaces and other exposed ground areas. The high resolution textures used for aprons, runways and taxiways had nice crisp detailed markings. In high traffic areas such as runway touchdown zones you can see rubber staining and at the gates we see stains and dirt appropriate for the high volume of aircraft operations.
Ground textures used to depict some roadways and areas covered by vegetation were less detailed than the hard surfaces but none the less were still quite good.
The major structures at KEWR consist of three main passenger terminals; A, B and C with the now decommissioned old terminal A still visible. In addition there are several large cargo areas for FedEx and UPS plus general aviation parking. All buildings are meticulously recreated using high resolution textures augmented with many fine details. If I have one slightly negative observation to make, I believe that they could have incorporated a bit more in the way of visible weathering and dirt on some of the rooftops. It was especially noticeable on some of the buildings with white or light grey roof tops. I’d expect to see some signs of dirt or weathering especially where you have angled complex roof lines. Weather and air pollution should have some impact in this regard. Definitely not a game changer but I believe it would have been a nice touch as there was some weathering in certain areas and had this been carried on throughout it would have added to the overall realism.
Like most airport terminals there were lots of large glassed walls and rooftop skylights. They were all transparent giving great views from the outside in and vice versa. This certainly complimented the interior modelling and augmented the sense of realism you felt.
I found the jetways to be an interesting part of the terminals at KEWR as their designs were unique to each terminal. All were absolutely packed with details.
I have never been a big fan of modelling terminal interiors as I always thought them to be extra graphics overhead that unnecessarily took away from system resources. I have to say that what they’ve done here is quite remarkable. Going through the various terminals I actually felt as if I was there. All of the details they’ve modelled like departure/arrival boards, ticket counters, security screening areas, shopping and restaurants, all of these areas are here and detailed. Then to top it all off add people and then the sounds that go with all of this. It is definitely worth taking the time to explore at least once. They didn’t stop with the terminals either; they put the same amount of effort into recreating the interiors of the two control towers. With FSLTL running to inject AI traffic it was interesting to watch aircraft traffic on the taxiways and runways from the control tower’s vantage point. It was a unique experience that I enjoyed thoroughly.
The best part of all this was that even with all of these added visuals my performance was not noticeably impacted and I got to experience what it was like to be at that airport without ever going there.
With this package they provide, via the installer, the option to install or omit several graphic object enhancements; static aircraft, interior details, parked cars and 3D people. By choosing to install these options you are greatly enhancing the ambience of the airport overall. I would however state that even if you choose not to enable these options you will still be presented with an airport that is very visually satisfying however these optional enhancements are the icing on the cake and help take it to the next level.
All airports rely on any number of different services and systems in order to function properly and safely and with an airport of this size and complexity you can expect that there will be both quantity and diversity in both of those. The developers have done a great job in bringing this airport to life by providing everything we would expect to find in order to take care of any scenario; a wide variety of vehicles such as de-icers, snow plows, catering and refuelling trucks, tractor trailers, freight pallets, trash bins, fencing, plus all types of lighting and signage is a short list of what you can expect to see. Like all other aspects of the scenery the objects were detailed and of a high quality.
One of the graphics options they give you is whether or not to include their static aircraft as part of your installation. This idea of adding static aircraft seems to be something that is often up for debate, should I or shouldn’t I? I personally like to give them a try and then ask myself a few questions. Are they affecting my performance? How good are the aircraft models? Are they realistically placed and are there enough or are there too many? If I choose to run my AI traffic program how well will they co-exist?
With their static aircraft installed I saw no noticeable degradation in performance and the airport was now sufficiently populated with a variety of real world livery high quality static aircraft throughout the entire airport. The result was an airport that looked much more realistic than one that would have been totally void of any aircraft which is not representative of the real world operations you would find here.
As I normally run FSLTL to add AI traffic to my sim experience I wanted to see how they would get along and how my performance would be affected. I found no conflicts and they complimented each other nicely and without affecting my performance.
Something that caught my eye as I flew overhead was the large parking lots; they’ve been filled with cars and light trucks. Not unusual in itself however what sets them apart from other developers was the variety in vehicle types and colours. Just one more thing added to up the realism factor and help make this look like the busy place it is.
Like many other large multi-terminal airports Newark Liberty International Airport has a shuttle train to help ferry passengers around. At Newark it is the “AirTrain” which allows airport passengers to travel between terminals, parking lots, rental car facilities and hotel shuttles and also beyond the airport proper. This has been modelled as an animated train running on above ground tracks and can be seen travelling between the various airport stops.
Flying in and Out of Newark
I spent a substantial amount of time flying into and out of the airport in order to see how my 737 would handle instrument approaches. I am happy to report that I was able to successfully utilize the instrument landing procedures for all available runaways without issue.
The night time ambience at Newark has not been neglected and is very convincing. The interior lighting is realistic and allows us to admire all the work they put into this aspect of the terminal buildings. Apron lighting is also really good with the intensity of the lighting not being overdone. Finally the ground lighting for the runways, taxiways, etc, here to you can see how they convincingly recreated the various ground lighting systems found at the airport.
When you hear about a product as large and as detailed as this one a thought that quickly comes to mind is how is my PC going to handle it? Will I be relegated to flying around in a slideshow? I know I wouldn’t be happy if that were the case.
For all of my test flights I flew the PMDG 737, a complex aircraft, not the most system taxing from what I have read but it is typical of the type of aircraft you’d find at a large airport and a very popular choice within the flightsim community.
To see what the worst case scenario would be I flew in and out of Newark with all of the scenery addon options installed. My graphics settings are set to Ultra and I run a 3 monitor setup at a resolution of 5967×1200 (bezel corrected) with a LOD of 300. CPU and graphics card are running at stock speeds with no over clocking. My system specs are of a mid range PC not anything out of the ordinary. I am very pleased to say that I was able to perform all of my flights without any performance issues. Everything was fluid and I didn’t experience any noticeable stutters. All in all the scenery performed very well, much better than I was expecting considering all of the details, the size of the airport and its location next to a large city.
The developers have done an outstanding job with recreating Newark Liberty International Airport and it deserves to be a part of everyone’s MSFS experience. For me it was the best airport I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in MSFS so far.
Review by Rick Desjardins
|➢ Installer options allow users some flexibility in which graphic details are installed|
➢ Very good performance considering how large and busy this airport is
➢ Absolutely stunning graphics
➢ Excellent value for the price
|➢ Could prove to be too much on lower end machines if all graphic options are enabled|
Developer: DRZEWIECKI DESIGN
Price: EUR 22.50 (+tax EU customers)
|Ryzen 5 5600X,|
ASUS TUF X570-Plus MB,
1 TB NVMe SSD,
32Gb DDR4 RAM,
ASUS RTX 3060 OC w/12Gb VRAM,
Win 11, Track IR,
FSLTL AI traffic, MSFS graphics settings to Ultra.