AVSIM Commercial Scenery Review

German Airports 2: Dortmund

Product Information

Publisher: Aerosoft

Description: Highly detailed virtual replica of the Dortmund Airport, and its surroundings.

Download Size:
35 MB

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FS2004 + free update to FSX version when released
Reviewed by: Robert Mariani AVSIM Staff Reviewer - January 11, 2007

Introduction

The City of Dortmund, Germany, dates back to the year 880, although its airport is somewhat newer. EDLW’s 80th year in existence came in 2006, but it wasn’t until fairly recently, in 2000, that the airport started seeing significant air carrier activity. The field is located some 13 kilometers from the old city.

Dortmund is in the German state of North Rhine-Wesphalia, in the Ruhr region. To help you find it on the map, start at the Northwest corner of Germany where the North Sea touches the land. Go straight down (south) for about 180 miles or so and you’ll be there. Close to Dortmund are Dusseldorf, Cologne, and Bonn, and if you drive two hours south by car you will be in Frankfurt.

The commercial traffic at Dortmund only recently “took off”. The rapid growth started in the late 1990’s and the new tower and terminal were constructed between 1998 and 2001. The real life airport has seen growth from 1 million passengers per year in 2001 to just over 2 million in 2006. The increasing popularity of low cost carriers such as Air Berlin, GermanWings, and EasyJet was the major contributing factor to the airport’s expansion. In addition to above mentioned airlines, there are other carriers serving Dortmund such as Lufthansa, Wizz, and AirAlps.

The scenery of Dortmund Airport includes only the airport and the immediate vicinity, but as mentioned in the manual, it is compatible with other Aerosoft add-ons such as Scenery Germany 3 and World Cup Stadiums.

Installation and Documentation

Test System

Pentium 4 2.8 HT at 3.1 800FSB
ASUS P4P800
BFG 6800 OC 128MB video
Corsair XMS 3200 1Gb memory
TH2GO and TrackIR4PRO

Flying Time:
4 hours

The Airport Dortmund comes as a 35 MB download, and installs by double clicking on the executable file. The installation is straightforward and once installed, the scenery activates automatically within FS9.

Documentation includes two PDF files. The first one provides charts that include SID’s, and STAR’s, and the second PDF is a product manual with technical information and a history of EDLW. The manual is short and to the point, and in typical German fashion, well organized. One little quirk for us English speakers is that both German and English versions are in the same file, so you have scroll half way down through the file before the English text appears.

See-Do-Explore!

As mentioned in the introduction, the scenery includes the airport only, and not the city of Dortmund itself. Forget sightseeing flights unless you have other custom scenery, and if you are soccer (football) fan you will not find the largest stadium in Germany in this package. However, the scenery of the airport itself is very detailed and includes photorealistic ground textures and numerous custom buildings at the airport as well.

In addition, the airport comes with the option to install static aircraft. The authors recommend against installing static planes if you are using AI traffic. If you have one of the commercial AI traffic programs or their freeware counterparts, this product includes a customized AFCAD.

Another interesting aspect of the product is the dynamic scenery for cars on the roads, and airport service vehicles. This option is great and you must remember to turn on add-on dynamic scenery within FS9 to see all of the activity. Once you have that going, you will see many vehicles moving around the airport. This works very well on approach, since it makes the scenery come alive. One thing about it though. Cars on the autobahn are moving very slowly, but we’ll chalk that one down due to heavy traffic, or drastic speed limits.

At the airport itself, there are many service vehicles, and one emergency vehicle even has its siren on. This is a fairly small airport, but with all the movement around you and as you are approaching or parking, it makes it more interesting. If you have this scenery, you will want to fly there just to experience all of the activity.

Overview of the airport and its single 2000m long runway

At the aircraft parking positions 0-4 there is an AGNIS docking system which worked well on a couple of freeware Airbuses and 737’s I experimented with. Jetways are non-movable which is a little disappointing considering that this is a payware. Even more so, since there are only two, and the rest of the tunnels are not true jetways, they merely serve to protect the passengers from the weather as they get closer to their airplane.

My A-319 next to Air Berlin Static plane. The non-movable stairs and one of the fixed jetways.
AGNIS docking system, some passengers tunnels and the main terminal

Another notable absence is the lack of stairs or aircraft service vehicles that could be called upon with a certain COM frequency to serve your airplane. This feature has been around on some freeware and payware products for a while and it seems strange that the authors have not included it, since they have done so much work on the other aspects of the dynamic scenery.

Conspiracy Theory 101 suggests that Aerosoft has another commercial package that adds service vehicles to some airports, and if they would have included it in this product, there would be no need to buy an additional add-on for this one. However, this is pure speculation, and it has not been independently confirmed by myself or anyone that I know. In the end, the dynamic scenery included is enjoyable and extensive with only a couple of features missing. That is, unless you don't like to sit and watch the trucks pulling up to your airplane after you shut down the engines.

Great summer and winter textures
Some of details in immediate vicinity of the airport

The textures that come with the airport are just amazing. There is a mixture of several textures of grass and dirt, and the runway surroundings appear very realistic. The buildings are done well, but the inside of the terminal is non-existent. The immediate vicinity includes some custom placed buildings in the village next to the airport, a SMART car dealership, industrial complex, and a gas station. What I really liked though, are the numerous 3D cars in the nearby parking lots that don’t seem to degrade the frame rates.

Those cars add a lot to the overall feel of the scenery. Night textures and lighting are OK, but those moving cars have rather big taillights that really stick out too much. I think that this is the FS9 limitation, but even with those red beacons on cars, the scenery looks good at night.

The buildings all have custom textures and just like the ground, and they are done extremely well. Just for fun, I switched between seasons to see if the airport comes with winter and summer textures and I am happy to report that there are winter textures. However, there is a problem if the surrounding area is not covered with snow, as it was on the day I took the first shot below.

Default real wx didn’t show any snow outside of the scenery. Parking lot with real cars and one of the FS9’s winter weather themes loaded.

The runway at EDLW is fairly short at 2000m, but long enough to accommodate your typical A319 or 737. Runway textures are also custom made and really well done, and so are the approach lights and satellite buildings surrounding the field. One thing that is absent, for those who are detail oriented, are the airport perimeter fences.

One of the coolest features of this particular airport is its sloped taxiway that connects the older apron that is used for GA airplanes, to the newer one where the big iron parks. The authors caution that some scenery placed on the raised portion of the airport won’t display shadows and that at certain speeds and conditions, the airplane may fall through the taxiway. Before I read that part I was about to say, “Why can’t there be sloped runways in FS?”, but now I understand. It is the scenery engine limitation, and the authors of this scenery did a great job. I have not experienced any problems taxiing the default Cessna around.

Detailed lights and runway textures and more of the custom buildings
Satellite structures around the airport and new terminal in the foreground

Performance

In the performance department, this scenery is a winner all the way. Even with all the dynamic add-on scenery turned up, and autogen at very dense, I had little or no frame rate impact while flying or driving around - on my slightly long in the tooth Pentium 4. The frames were variable between 25 and 30 and my limit of 30 was the norm.

Even though this is small airport, the authors have done a masterful job in optimizing how it works. All of the custom textures load quickly and there is no blurring or performance degradation in the sim. The transition between the custom scenery area and default textures is not seamless, yet it is not intrusive to the point that you will notice it - unless you are looking for it. As detailed add-on sceneries go, this one has found an excellent balance of performance and visual eye candy.

Minor intrusion of the custom scenery into the autobahn. Detailed view of the sloping taxiway

Closing Remarks

This airport is done very well. It has lots of details, moving traffic in and around airport, and great textures. It also boosts excellent performance on an older system, and provides a flyer with a unique sloped taxiway.

If you live in Germany or have any sort of tie to the airport (EDLW), you ought to go get it. You should also get it if you plan to fly there often, and on approach while watching the moving cars, it is really immersive. However, if you are more into scenery sightseeing with additional places to visit, then you will not find much more than the airport itself, and that may get “old” soon.

 

What I Like About Aerosoft's Dortmund

  • Lots of details at the airport and in the immediate surroundings
  • Great frame rates
  • Dynamic scenery on the roads and at the airport
  • Excellent custom textures

 

What I Don't Like About Aerosoft's Dortmund

  • No moving jetways and player’s airplane service vehicles

 

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