Those that live in Europe have a reason to be happy. There are many airports in this continent that have been replicated. So okay, it’s mostly Western Europe, and in particular Germany. How come? Because Aerosoft is a German company.
Indeed, Aerosoft has most of the well-known European airport packages. They don’t focus on just Airports, though. In recent times, we have also seen packages like Tahiti X, Male X, and Ibiza X, all packages that set out to replicate entire countries and islands in our FSX world. Guess what: there is a new kid on the block!
This time Aerosoft stays in Europe with Luxembourg Airports: a remake of Luxembourg for FSX. It’s the biggest region Aerosoft has set out to replicate (biggest landmass, anyway), and it includes all (three) airports, a lot of landmarks, mesh, and around the airports some nice photoreal ground textures.
Personally, I think this is a good choice for a product. Why? Quite simple: it’s a rather central country, and it has one of the biggest cargo hubs in the region. Cargolux, probably known to many, is a big cargo hauler with its hub at ELLX, being Luxembourg’s one international airport: Findel International Airport.
In this review I will be giving it a look, to see what it is all about. I will be flying around low and slow, and I will see what FPS are like when we get into the big PMDG 747.
Installation and Documentation
Installation is simple and straightforward. Those that have already purchased Aerosoft products will know how it works. You start out downloading the files (or insert the CD of you bought the boxed version), and when done, you start the installer. It asks for your email address and serial key, and when entered, you tell the installer where you want it installed (the program wants you to select your FSX root folder). That’s it. You then click install, and the rest is fully automatic. It creates all the necessary folders and adds the scenery to FSX’s scenery library.
In your start menu a nice, new folder has appeared titled “aerosoft” (yes, that’s without the capital A, no idea why…). In it, you’ll find a program to configure ELLX so as to add AES Lite (little cars and such that drive around the airport), mipmaps (if you have problems with flickering textures) and static aircraft (no idea why you’d want that with the great freeware World of AI add-on packages…).
You can also configure the season of the photoreal textures that provide an underground for the airport. Do you have to? No, not really. You must do that if you fancy flying in seasons other than summer because seasons don’t change together with the “normal” ground textures our FS world is filled with. This is indeed a weakness of using photoreal textures, but one many of us have come to except.
The documentation is nicely laid out in the typical Aerosoft way, with a nice cover, grayish titles for paragraphs, and rather large text that is easy on the eye. What’s in the manual has been written well, although there is an occasional hint that the author was not a native English speaker (but neither am I, so who am I to complain?).
Basically all that is needed is there, and there isn’t much else to see. I did go rather happily to the chapter titled “Airport charts”, only to find to my dismay that they were not supplied with the product, like they were with Aerosoft’s Charles de Gaulle scenery, for example. All in all, a nice manual but I don’t expect you’ll really need it.
As an aside, there is also a small PDF file containing a chart detailing where all the landmarks are. This is great, because it enables you to plan a flight to a specific town to look at the castle or whatever. Then return to ELUS or ELNT (the two tiny VFR airfields included). If anything, you can use this to give yourself an idea of the country, which is something that I value.
A big project
Doing an entire country requires work, and a lot of it. Also, reviewing an entire country requires work and good structure. Flying from one end to the other really makes no sense. So, I decided to start with the airports. First ELLX, then the other smaller two.
First I’ll be flying around Luxembourg, the one big city of Luxembourg (yes, the city and country have the same name). Afterwards I shall do the remaining bits and pieces. Before I even start showing you anything, I think the fact that the entire country of Luxembourg is included is already worth a compliment!
We start at Luxembourg’s main hub: Findel international Airport, which I’ll call by its IATA code hereafter: ELLX (Same goes for the other two, smaller airports). This is not a big airport, and it’s probably one of the smaller international airports in the world. What it does have, is a huge cargo center:
That’s not all, though. There is even more places for cargo planes:
This is interesting, because the total places for cargo planes is probably equal to the number of passenger planes that can be parked here. Of course, you have to take into account the fact that the passenger terminals seem to be filled with mostly small planes (Luxair itself doesn’t seem to have big planes, nothing bigger than Boeing 737s or ERJ-145s), while the cargo spots are mostly filled with Cargolux’s huge Boeing 747s. So, while in fact there are fewer parking spots at the cargo centers, the planes that do park there are a lot bigger.
The modeling of the cargo centers is good. The textures are very sharp, even from close up, and there is quite a lot of detail. Even if the buildings themselves are not extremely detailed, there is a slew of tiny objects in the form of trucks, cars, baggage loaders, you name it. There is a lot to see, and it is all nicely modeled and textured.
Next up is the passenger terminal. While it’s not big (it’s actually rather small), it is a beautiful structure nonetheless. With an all-glass front, the shiny blue building greets you from a distance, and the marvelous detail of the jetways is extraordinary. The jetways themselves are largely constructed of glass too, with the glass plates interconnected with metal tubing: a construction you’ll often see at the newest of airports. I think it has been replicated faithfully and beautifully.
The passenger terminal extends in one direction for a little bit. It’s like an arm with fingers, the fingers being gates. These gates don’t have jetways; instead you descend to the apron with stairs, which have also been faithfully replicated. Even the little metal constructions that hold the glass in place have been replicated with tiny but sharp textures.
The entrance to the passenger terminal generally looks good. The building itself has sharp texturing and very nice modeling. However, there are some serious problems with the texturing and the mesh. Both of the problems are easily solved, and I will soon explain what these solutions are.
The rest of the airport consists of hangars, office blocks, hotels and other buildings. I will not spend much time explaining what you see. Instead, I’ll present the screenshots with captions and leave it at that.
While viewing the above screenshots, you must have noticed the frequent blurriness of the photoreal ground textures. I’ll be honest: my computer sucks for displaying great FSX detail and getting good FPS at the same time, so to be able to fly somewhat normally, my texture settings are around medium. That’s mostly why these ground textures look so bad (although from a height it is greatly improved). I just wanted you to know that it’s not in the scenery, it’s because of my hardware!
This concludes ELLX - for now. We’ll come back to it at the chapter about the night lighting.
The other two airports
This package isn’t called “Luxembourg Airports” just for the heck of it. It contains two more, very small airports. They might not be good enough to land a Boeing 737 at (these are grass strip, VFR airfields), but they have a lot of atmosphere. They also have a lot of problems, some of which I know for sure are going to be patched in the next update. Without further ado, I present you ELNT (Noutrange) and ELUS (Useldange):
This concludes ELNT. ELUS has big mesh problems, but the development team is aware of these and are set to release a patch very soon. At the time of writing it was not released but you’ll be able to download it from the Aerosoft website. In its current state, this is what ELUS gives you:
Where there is light, there is a fire
In this case not a fire, but a city. Luxembourg City, that is. Luxembourg City is the capitol of Luxembourg, and is the only really big city in Luxembourg (there are three other big towns).
Surrounded by the hilly terrain that extends into Belgium, France and Germany, Luxembourg sits right in the middle of a valley, with another valley going right through this city. This last valley is a river valley, through which flows the rivers Alzette and Pétrusse. In reality, this must be a beautiful location. I have been there, or so I am told by my parents; I was too young to remember.
In Luxembourg Airports, not only are the airports modeled, but also some landmarks and landclass and mesh add-ons have been included. So, flying over Luxembourg City we come across some nice spots. Here are some of them to give you an impression:
I hope this gives you a bit of an impression of the landmarks, mesh and landclass used here, as to give you a nice VFR flying experience over Luxembourg. To be perfectly honest, while I appreciate the frequent detail (the train, for example), I feel that many tiny forgotten details (such as the consist and locomotive being at separate heights), spoil the otherwise nice experience somewhat to the extent that I’m not sure if I really would want to regularly use it in its present state. These are some harsh words, but I truly hope these things I’ve pointed out will get fixed.
The solutions to all the problems
spending some time with the Luxembourg Airports development team,
it was clear two things had to be done to solve the mesh problems
at ELLX and Luxembourg City, and to solve the taxi/runway problems
Concerning UTEX, you have to turn off the scenery library entry titled UTE Airports. Turn this off and the taxiways and runways return to normal. The Mesh problems will get cleared up when setting the resolution to 2m, but at the same time, I discovered that setting it so high also caused other problems. Below are screenshots that demonstrate these findings.
In this chapter, I’m only going to show you shots of ELLX. This is the only area in this package that has something big to show for itself at night. While the separate landmarks also looks rather nifty, they are not nearly as good looking as the whole of ELLX, with all of its lighting. So here we go:
Something that I did notice which I found surprising, is what you see on the screenshot where I fly toward the jetways of the passenger terminal; it’s the screenshot where you see the main terminal building, together with that small, unlighted terminal building (the “arm” is not in view!).
If you look “behind” the terminal building, you’ll notice the car park and entrance, together with that small brownish wall. Seen from this angle, it doesn’t look like that brownish wall floats in the air at all; it looks like it is firmly on the ground. I’m still of the opinion this should be fixed, though (it should be right from ALL angles, not just this particular one…).
Flying around in the Trike Ultralight, it was soon apparent my computer was not really agreeing with what it had to display. As soon as the loading screen vanishes, I get to see an untextured mess and it requires the computer a minute or so to fill it all up. Granted, this is my computer being lazy and I’m sure people with better computers will have better results. Still, when I was flying, the FPS were not as bad as I thought they were. Here’s a small table:
As you can see, it’s all around the 8. The fact that the Maddog was around 10 at ELLX surprised me because it usually is a frame hog in FSX. As for the rest, flying over Luxembourg with the Ultralight, the FPS usually improved when ELLX was not in sight and it would rise and stay around 13. I’m not too happy with these figures, but oh well.
First things first: there is a FS9 version. However, buyers beware! It is not exactly what is stated on the project page! The FS9 version was first only to include ELLX, but the landmarks made their way into it too. This is, of course, very good but I’ve seen some people within the first days of release who were looking for ELUS and ELNT, yet couldn’t find it. Let us be clear that these two airports are not part of the FS9 version of the scenery package!
That said, in FS9, ELLX looks stunning. It truly is a very good-looking scenery! To be honest, I didn’t actually see much difference between the FSX and FS9 versions of ELLX. The only difference which was blatantly obvious, was the fact that all transparent windows in the FSX version are not transparent in the FS9 version, as you can see here:
About this I really don’t care too much. I’m just glad this scenery made it in such a good way to FS9! For the rest, it’s mainly ground textures which seem to be more blurry than in FSX, but this was to be expected.
Regarding performance, I found that the performance was slightly worse than I had anticipated (because honestly, the airport isn’t that big, now is it?) Flying around in the Carenado Cessna, I had between 16 and 18 FPS when flying directly over the airport. On approach, it sometimes went to 11.
I should add, as a reminder, that the hardware of my computer is 1.5 year old. Most people probably won’t have a problem with this scenery.
Summary / Closing Remarks
This is the chapter where I say what I generally think of the scenery. Problem is, I’m not sure what to think. On the one hand, we have a splendidly detailed ELLX, with landmarks spread out all over Luxembourg. On the other hand, we have a scenery that doesn’t seem very frame rate friendly and isn’t really compatible with UTEX (or its FS9 counterpart for that matter).
I can forgive the performance issues because my computer really isn’t up to running FSX very well, although I’d like to point at Aerosoft’s Lisbon and Tegel reviews I did, and say that these airports give me significantly better frame rates!
The UTEX compatibility problems are more important, though. While I can forgive any compatibility problems ELLX might have (luckily, there are none. The photoreal ground textures fit perfectly onto the UTEX roads, as I showed in one screenshot), I can’t really forgive it for the VFR portion of the product.
Think carefully about what Luxembourg Airports is. It is a (sort of) “mega airport release” (namely, ELLX), combined with an extra add-on that includes Luxembourg landmarks for people who like to fly VFR. So, essentially, this product gives both heavy metal guys and VFR guys a nice environment to fly in… But is this true? Because in my opinion, those that want to fly VFR seriously, simply need to have UTEX. It adds so much to the FSX (and FS9) environment and it enhances both day and night environments in such a great way, that when you have it, you don’t want to stop using it.
And that’s where the problem is. I feel that, as it is now, you have to choose whether you want UTEX or Luxembourg Airports. Both, in their full and complete form, is not really possible. You’ll get double bridges, for instance. I feel that to get this product up to the level where it belongs, these things have to be cleared up. Moreover, I don’t think it’ll be all that difficult, either.
But again, I’m not a scenery developer, so I might be very wrong. Still, I’d think this is a matter of simply adding a utility that places exclude files in Luxembourg’s scenery folder to make sure UTEX’s bridges don’t appear.
I have been thinking about the question of who is at fault: UTEX or LA (Luxembourg Airports)? In the end, I feel it is LA that should be doing something about it. LA was released long after UTEX, and the development team could have known about this product. Since this is a VFR type product, they should have known about the possibility of double bridges and they could have included the excluded files.
At installation, the installer could then have asked whether you have UTEX installed or not. I have seen Aerosoft products ask me this before, so it is not impossible. Honestly, if you ask me to choose between UTEX, which gives me roads and bridges, etc, over the entirety of Europe, or LA, which gives me Luxembourg, I’ll choose for UTEX. I’d end up disabling the VFR portion of LA that isn’t compatible with UTEX, but I would leave ELLX on.
Because whatever you say about the VFR part of LA, ELLX still is an example of masterly design. It looks phenomenal, and with the addition of AES (Yes! We have AES compatibility!), you have a beautiful and functional airport in a very central place in Western Europe. Certainly for cargo guys, ELLX is a must.
So, if you want to do this for ELLX alone, I say get it. If you want the VFR part and have UTEX installed, I think you might want to wait for some sort of update. If you don’t have UTEX installed, it really doesn’t matter and I say: get it.
What I Like About The Luxembourg Airports
What I Don't Like About The Luxembourg Airports
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