AVSIM Commercial Scenery Review

SimuDesign SD Scene Brest

Product Information
Publisher: SimuDesign
Description:  An add-on scenery package for FS9 covering the Brest Bretagne airport (Guipavas), Brest, France
Download Size:
8 MB
Format:
Auto-installer
Simulation Type:
FS 2004
Reviewed by: Brian Fletcher AVSIM Sr Staff Reviewer - July 3, 2006

Introduction

Purchasing a scenery enhancement that only covers a single airport in FS9 is my definition of a risk-reward buy. On one hand, the add-on can be of the highest caliber, containing dynamic scenery, authentic structures, and superb texturing. On the other hand, your money has gone to improve only one airport of the thousands in Flight Sim. So while that one airport may be excellent, you would have to frequent that facility on a regular enough basis to make it worth the money, which could isolate much of your virtual world.

The product under review falls perfectly into the risk-reward category that I am talking about. The risk is that you will be paying 14 Euros for an enhanced version of the Brest Bretagne (Guipavas) airport in Brest, France, the reward is what comes with this scenery add-on. The rewards are plentiful, including excellent grass, runway and taxiway textures, static and dynamic vehicles, detailed buildings, a marshal and NAV 2 controlled ground servicing, and even a construction zone with an animated crane. This scenery enhancement is sure to please.

But before I get too involved in talking about the Flight Sim version of this facility, let’s learn a little about the real airport. The land where the airport resides was first developed by the U.S. Navy during WWI for the construction of a hangar. In the mid 1930’s the Brest Chamber of Commerce chose to erect an airfield which was primarily used for imports and exports to the England.

Over the next few decades the facility underwent many changes, including extending the runway, clearing the surrounding area for future construction, and the addition of a small terminal to accommodate passengers once the airfield received a commercial license in 1961. The 1960’s saw continued enhancement to this facility as long-term infra structural developments got underway in 1963 through 1966.

Through 1986 not much had changed to Guipavas other than several extensions to the runway to accommodate larger aircraft, and the construction of a modern terminal and ATC tower. Later in 1992, the runway was extended yet again to 3100 meters to make room for the jumbo jets, and was equipped with a category 3 all-weather landing system.

Over the years the airport has grown considerably and is still expanding. Passenger transport companies such as Air France, Aegean, Ryan Air, and Jetair Fly frequently perform flights to Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Nantes, Birmingham, Exeter, Southampton, and Toulon among other European destinations.

So how well has SimuDesign recreated this airport? Well, over the next few sections I plan to demonstrate that not only is this recreation of Guipavas leaps and bounds above the default scenery, but it has joined the next level of scenery enhancements. And despite having a plethora of static and dynamic scenery, you may be surprised with how little all of this affects your frame rates.

We have a lot to discuss today, so let’s get started by visiting the SimuDesign website at http://www.simudesign.com/en/Index.php. 14 Euros and about 8 MB of free space is all you will need to get started. Of course you will need a lot more free space to move on to the next section…installation.

Installation and Documentation

Getting this product installed is about as simple as it gets. Just double-click the icon titled “FS2004-SimuDesign-SDScene Brest” located wherever you downloaded this product. The first screen to pop up will advise you to remove any previously installed modifications to the Guipavas airport. Then you will be taken to a screen that gives you the option of which items you want to install.

The two items to choose from include the SD Scene Brest Scenery and the SD Scene Module V1.2. For best results, I would highly recommend checking the box to install the module along with the scenery as this module plays a huge role enhancing this add-on. This module runs some special features, such as automated lighting, and advanced ground support equipment which will automatically adjust to the height and size of the user aircraft. This module also allows the dynamic stairs to be covered or uncovered as weather permits.

The last two screens to appear will show you the installation progress, followed by a final screen that gives you the option of having the auto-installer automatically add this scenery to the FS9 scenery library. This option saves you the trouble of having to go through the process of starting Flight Sim, adding the scenery, and restarting the sim. Now you are ready to go check out your new scenery, but let’s look at the documentation first.

If you take a look in the SimuDesign folder located in the main FS9 directory after installation you will find a folder titled “docs” that contains a brief and to the point manual for this product; both English and French versions are available. The manual begins with a quick overview of the product followed by an explanation of the included module and directions for installation, which is odd given the fact that you have to have already installed the product in order to read the manual.

Continuing on, the manual goes into some detail regarding the marshal, who will guide you into position when parking, and provides scenery setting recommendations. Also, the manual will give you the information needed to activate the dynamic scenery once parked, which simply involves tuning NAV 2 to 117.50. Okay, the airport is installed and we’ve read the manual, now let’s go check our new scenery.

Welcome to Guipavas

The Brest Bretagne Airport has many exciting features to discuss, some of which are very eye catching, and a few that are less than impressive. So let’s dive right and see what it has to offer. We'll begin with the layout, which is a near perfect recreation of the real airport. Guipavas invites you to takeoff and land on your choice of two runways, including runway 07R and reciprocal runway 25L, and runway 07L and reciprocal runway 25R, which run parallel to each other.

Runway 07R/25L is the primary runway, and does not really offer a whole lot of excitement on approach other than the nearby town which you will fly directly over if you follow the traffic pattern. Runway 07L/25R however is a little more exciting as both ends have rows of trees that can certainly come into play on approach. The runway textures are much more authentic than by default, as they include realistic touchdown marks, faded markings, and a nice asphalt texture.

Once on the ground you have three parking areas to choose from. On the west side of the airport is a parking area that includes an open hangar, which can be entered with smaller aircraft. If you happen to be using Traffic 2005, which I have installed for this review, this parking area will house most of the helicopters that frequent this facility.

Heading east you will encounter another parking area, which contains the majority of the parking spots, and is home to an array of dynamic and static ground support vehicles, a detailed terminal, and even a marshal that is available at parking spot 4 only. This parking area is where the majority of the AI traffic will reside, and it is also where your aircraft will be serviced, which I will discuss momentarily.

The final parking area is located on the east side of the airport, and is directly in front of an area under construction, which is intended to represent construction of the future terminal building at Guipavas. Though there is not a whole lot of scenery on this ramp to discuss, you will have an excellent view of an animated crane and trucks within the fenced in construction zone.

As for the servicing that I mentioned, it all takes place at parking spot 4. Once you are properly marshaled into position, which I will talk about in the next section, you can use NAV 2 frequency 117.50 to activate the dynamic ground support equipment. The module included with this product will permit the vehicles to pull up to each aircraft as appropriate.

Once you set the NAV 2 frequency, a fuel truck, stair truck, and two baggage handling vehicles will pull up to your aircraft from their previous position on either side of the parking spot. If the weather is fair, the stairs will have an open top, in fowl weather, the stairs will be covered. Of course you will not actually see any refueling operations, passengers boarding or exiting the aircraft, or any baggage or cargo being loaded or unloaded, but it is still a much needed improvement over the default dynamic scenery, which is none.

As long as you have installed the module (as described above), the stairs and baggage vehicles will line up properly with the aircraft. The alignment of the fuel truck is irrelevant, as it remains several yards from the aircraft and does not connect to the aircraft. When you're ready to push back, you simply need to change the NAV 2 frequency to anything other than 117.50 and the ground support vehicles will pull away.

In addition to the static and dynamic scenery mentioned, Guipavas also has a lot of modeled buildings, roads, trees, and even a parking lot full of cars…sort of. Actually, the parking lots behind the airport look great from above, but rather than having vehicles parked there, the lots have been textured to look like they are there while airborne. If you pull up for a closer look while on the ground, all you will see is colorful pavement.

The terminal is detailed quite well, and is also colorful, but much more realistically than the parking lot. There are a few signs on the terminal, as well as other buildings throughout the airport that add a nice touch. The control tower is located caddy-cornered to the main ramp, and is detailed very nicely with an almost futuristic look.

There are roads that lead in and out of the airport, but don’t expect to follow them all the way into town. They look great while on the airport property, but once you leave Guipavas, they just end, and they don’t line up to well with the default roads. While on the airport property, however, the roads, along with the taxiways and parking areas look, to say the least, considerably more authentic than by default.

Speaking of improving the default scenery, you will also notice that the ground textures, specifically the grass, is leaps and bounds above what used to be here. The great thing about the grass textures is that while it is noticeably more realistic than by default, it still blends in with the surrounding area very well as there are trees at the airport perimeter that help the grasses to blend together.

Marshaling

One neat feature of this scenery enhancement is the marshal located at parking spot 4 on the main ramp. His job is to ensure that you are positioned properly before you shut the engines down. This is done with a series of four hand singles that are used to direct you to pull forward, move left, move right, and stop.

The marshal is visible regardless of what view you are taxiing from, but it is recommended that you use the cockpit view while being marshaled as the other views will not display his hand signals correctly. The hand signals consist of the following:

Pull Forward – When the marshal has both arms up moving repeatedly towards and away from you, it means that you need to move the aircraft forward slowly.

Move Left – When the aircraft needs to be steered to the left, the marshal will drop his right hand and raise his left. His right hand will move from the down position up towards his head and back again.

Move Right – The signal to steer right is the exact opposite of the signal to move left.

Stop – When it’s time to stop, the marshal will cross both of his arms above his head and hold them steady.

There are a few things that you should know when being marshaled into position. First off, the only parking spot at this airport with a marshal is spot 4. This was a disappointment for me, but on the bright side, even with Traffic 2005 installed and my traffic settings high, it is rare for another aircraft to be in that spot.

Also, it would be wise to pull into position at a relatively slow speed, no more than 5 knots or so. If you go too much faster, than the marshal may not be able to keep up with you, and you may just find yourself taking a breathalyzer test when the airport security sees how you’re parked.

Test System

Computer Specs

Compaq Presario SR1232
AMD Athlon 2.2 GHz
2 GB Ram
NVIDIA Ge Force FX5500
StarLogic 21” Flat Panel Monitor @ 1024 X 768
CH USB Flight Yoke
CH USB Rudder Pedals
Saitek X52 Flight Control System
FTP 290 Throttle Quadrant
Bose 5:1 Surround Sound

Laptop

Toshiba Satellite
1.6 GHz Intel Celeron M
512 MB DDR2 SD Ram
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900

Flying Time:
39 hours

What’s In The Area?

Since I have been spending a lot of time hanging around Brest lately, I thought it might be fun to find a few airports in the area for some short hops. One airport I found is called Oussant and is located about 25nm west of Guipavas on a small island in the Atlantic. This airport, which can be found at N48*27.84,W5*03.79, or by using ICAO LFEC, makes for a great approach from the east as the runway lies 138 feet MSL. A simple airfield with a 3,113 ft runway welcomes you to a gorgeous island that makes for a great family picnic location.

If you are looking for a little more time airborne, you might want to visit St. Mary’s, which can be found at N49*54.80,W6*17.50, or with ICAO EGHE. This facility invites you to use a 2003 ft, or 1698 ft asphalt runway, or you may wish to test your skills on the 1,368 ft grass runway, all of which have a very scenic approach to 114ft MSL.

Perhaps you will be interested in recreating some of the real-world flights that take place out of Guipavas, in which case you are just a jump, skip, and a hop from Exeter, and Nantes. Or for a little more time airborne, you can head to Southampton, Londes Luton, Paris, and Birmingham. And if you need to build up those hours, you can set course for Lyon, Nice, Toulon, or Marselle.

Of course, if you are looking to add a lot of hours to your FS Passengers pilot’s log, Guipavas’ northwestern France locale makes for a great departure airport for a trans-Atlantic flight to the U.S. or Canada, and it receives those long hauls just as well with a fantastic approach over the ocean. Or if you prefer to head east, Brest makes for a fun starting point for those of you with Eastern Europe, Asia, or the Middle East in mind.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed reviewing the SimuDesign Brest scenery add-on for FS9 and have no reason not to recommend that you consider adding this facility to your virtual world. The pros clearly outweigh the cons, of which there are only a few, and I can’t imagine anyone preferring the bland default rendition of Guipavas to this well crafted version.

As the real-estate agents are known for saying, it’s all about location, location, location, and that certainly applies here…at least in part. Why is the location so important to me? It’s simple; if I am going to get my money’s worth out of this add-on, then I will want to have an interest in not only the airport itself, but also the airports and scenery in a 200-300 nm radius. That way I can fly in and out of Guipavas to and from somewhere I enjoy, instead of having to deal with spending my evenings flying the local traffic pattern.

It’s not the animations that I find so enjoyable about this add-on. There is actually not that much in the way of mobile scenery outside of the few pieces of ground support equipment and of course the marshal. Instead, I am more excited about the fact that all of the buildings have been modeled as opposed to using default scenery, and I am impressed with the authenticity of the majority of the modeled scenery.

I would like to leave this review on a good note, so let’s discuss the few things that I do not care for. First off, I am not a big fan of the textured parking lots. Even though it looks good while airborne, I am not satisfied with how the texturing looks from ground level. I am also a little displeased with the way that the roads just end when they reach the outskirts of the airport property. I would have preferred if they would have been linked up with the default scenery a little better.

And now on to the positive aspects of this product. Again, I am very pleased with the modeling of the buildings, all of which I find to be detailed very well. I am also more than satisfied with the new ground textures and overall photo realistic land class. The construction zone where the new terminal will be is a nice feature, and the dynamic scenery in that area, especially the mobile crane, is a great touch. And even though I would have liked more marshals than just the one at parking spot 4, one is still a whole lot better than none.

So all in all I would definitely place my stamp of approval on this product. The scenery is great and the price is right, or at least not ridiculous in my opinion. Therefore, I would recommend that you take a flight over to the SimuDesign website to take a closer look for yourself. It is my opinion that this add-on has something to offer for just about every simmer.

Reviewers Note: A patch has been released for this product and is available for free download at the SimuDesign website. This patch is intended to correct problems that some users may have with the terrain mesh being uneven when blending in to certain add-on mesh. I have not encountered this problem; therefore I am unable to be more specific about this issue. For more information, please consult http://www.simudesign.com/en/Index.php.


 

What I Like About the Brest Scenery Add-on
  • All of the buildings are original models; no default scenery used
  • The customized ground textures
  • The construction zone depicting the future terminal
  • Animated marshal
  • The NAV 2 controlled animations
  • Fully Afcad enabled.

 
What I Don't Like About the Brest Scenery Add-on
  • The textured parking lot is nice from above, but not so nice from ground level
  • I would have liked more info in the manual…perhaps a little airport history
  • The roads leading into and out of the airport are cut-off too close to the airport property

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SimuDesign SD Scene Brest

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The review above is a subjective assessment of the product by the author. There is no connection between the producer and the reviewer, and we feel this review is unbiased and truly reflects the performance of the product in the simming environment. This disclaimer is posted here in order provide you with background information on the reviewer and connections that may exist between him/her and the contributing party.

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