Montreal-Trudeau Airport is the busiest commercial airport in the Canadian province of Quebec, it handled over 12 million passengers in 2008 and over 225,000 aircraft movements. It is the forth busiest airport in Canada. Montreal-Trudeau has international flights flying to every continent in the world except Australia.
Dorval airport, as it was known up until 2004, first commenced operations in 1941 and was an Air Force base. By the time 1946 came around, the airport was already handling over half a million passengers and growing. Dorval was chosen as an international airport due to it’s relative good weather and few foggy days that the area has. Dorval was, at one point, a major stopping point for trans-Atlantic flights, this allowed the aircraft to be serviced before continuing on to their destinations. This stopped with the introduction of longer range jets that could fly non-stop on the trans-Atlantic routes.
The airport has undergone expansion of the terminal and support areas throughout the years, including facilities to handle the new Airbus A380. The upgrades are being done to handle an expected 15 million passengers per year by 2014.
Bombardier also has production facilities on site that builds their Regional Jets and Challenger business jets. The airport’s name was changed in honor of the former Prime Minister of Canada, the late Right Honorable Pierre Elliott Trudeau. This caused some opposition from some locals who were not fans of the Prime Minister.
Blueprint Scenery Simulations had originally released the Montreal-Trudeau airport for FS9, then rebuilt it for FSX Making use of the new technologies that FSX offered.
Installation and Documentation
Installation is easy; just double click on the downloaded file and follow the prompts. This scenery has to be activated manually inside flight simulator. This is explained in the "read me" PDF file that is included in the installation. Follow the instructions and you can’t go wrong.
Speaking of documentation, you get three PDF files: an installation/activation file, this explains how to activate the scenery inside flight simulator; a CYUL readme that gives a little history on the airport; and some information about the gates and what they have been set up to receive aircraft wise.
The CYUL PDF file is a bit thin on detail. There are no charts included but a link to the Canadian Charts website, it is handy to have a reference for what aircraft can park at which gates. There is also a point made that the developer cannot guarantee that the placement of your AI traffic will fit in the parking spots and that you may have to modify your AI traffic to work. This is noted on the developer's website, not in the PDF file. Also on the main page of the website, and nowhere in the PDF file, it is noted the there are no animations included in this scenery, including airport traffic or moving jetways. More on this later.
Starting out on the runway, the airport looks well laid out and well detailed. In fact looking on Google Earth, the simulated version looks very close to the real thing. Buildings look accurately placed and taxiways and runways are in the correct positions. The runway and taxiway textures look bang on and match the real pictures I have seen.
The terminals are custom built and match the airport the way it is today, after all, the expansion has now taken place. There are also hangers and the Bombardier facilities included in the correct places. There are two open hangers that just cry out for some barnstorming, something that I just couldn’t resist!!
The ramp area looks suitably busy with ground vehicles everywhere and all the jetways displayed. This does create some of it’s own problems though with all the static scenery around, there is no way of reducing or removing it completely. The problem is if you have all of your AI aircraft and a complex add-on like the Captain Sim 757, you will have very low frame rates.
I was getting as low as 5fps while taxing to the ramp. Even removing all of my AI traffic, I struggled to keep the frame rates at 10fps. On the other hand, if you fly say Flight 1’s PC-12 or Carenado’s 172, you will get some descent frame rates. I was getting around 20fps in both, but with the default airport with AI traffic I was getting around 40fps and around 20fps in the 757.
Approaching the gates there is an old fashioned but very reliable alignment system to ensure you are on the gate's center line. It consists of two boards about cockpit height mounted in front of the gate. The bottom piece is set out from the top, so if you are too far to the left or right the line on the board will be offset. When you are bang on the line, the line on the boards will be aligned too. One problem is it doesn’t tell you when to stop, so I am guessing in real life there would be a marshaller there telling you when to stop.
I think that if you could get rid of the static scenery you would properly get more FPS. Another problem you will have is that if you deselect the airport and go back to the default scenery, you will have to remove the AFCAD file as your traffic will park all over the place. They will even turn the terminals into drive through’s!!
There is no animated scenery with this airport add-on. Blueprint Simulations has done this as there is not enough room to have the animated scenery work correctly at the airport. This is a shame as one big selling point of FSX is the moving jetways and animated ground service vehicles.
Night lighting looks good, on the airport that is. Outside, the ramp and runways looks like someone has got a yellow highlighter and dotted the area, or even worse someone has been dumping toxic waste around the area. It does draw the eye but detracts from the otherwise great lighting at the airport.
The actual airport night lighting looks great. The approach lighting changes depending on where your aircraft is, and looks realistic. Taxiways and ramp areas are well lit, and the floodlights on the ramps light up the area well. There was no lowering of the frame rates at night, which can happen with a lot of lighting around the place. All of the terminals and hangers have custom lighting effects and these look good too.
Terminals are custom built along with the hangers and airport facilities. I could not find any texture issues or missing textures on the buildings or the ground (apart from the toxic waste issue mentioned above). It is advertised that the terminals have reflective surfaces but I could not see this effect during my flights around the airport. The airport works with Direct-X 10 without an issue, apart from the well known shimmering but that is not caused by the add-on.
The airport blends satisfactorily with the surrounding default scenery during the summer months, but in winter, it is a different story. You definitely notice the boundary where the add-on scenery stops and the default scenery starts. This is very noticeable and does make the airport stand out from the surrounding scenery. Maybe just feathering the borders may have reduced this effect?
Summary / Closing Remarks
This review is a mixed bag. The product adds so much over the default scenery, but for a payware add-on, it could add so much more. The airport itself is worthwhile over the default scenery, but it is disappointing that the new features of FSX, like the moving jetways and ground vehicles, are not utilized.
It is hard not to recommend this scenery, but I could go either way. If you want a good Montreal airport and are not worried about the eye candy, then I recommend it for you. But if you want the eye candy with moving jetways and ground vehicles, then you may be better finding another option.
Overall, in my opinion it's a good scenery add-on.
What I Like About CYUL Montreal
What I Don't Like About CYUL Montreal
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