AVSIM Commercial Scenery Review

Mega Airport

Madrid Barajas 2008

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Product Information

Publisher: Aerosoft / Sim-Wings

Description: Madrid Barajas International Airport 2008 scenery package.

Download Size:
500 MB

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FS2004
Reviewed by: Viktor Lakatos AVSIM Staff Reviewer - July 27, 2008

Airport history

Madrid Barajas International Airport (LEMD/MAD) is located eight miles north-east of central Madrid, the capital of Spain. Real ‘Mega Airport’: the largest Spanish airport – is the 11th largest in the world and 5th in Europe – got its name from the adjacent town of Barajas.

Barajas International is Spain's main airport connecting Europe with the Iberian peninsula. The airport opened in 1928, and now handling more than 40 million passengers a year (statistics of 2007 say 52 million for last year – it means almost half a million aircraft movements). This is the main hub and maintenance base of Iberia Spanish Airlines, providing 60% of the airport's traffic.

This airport handles most transatlantic flights of Iberia and is a key airport for organizing the air traffic between Europe and Latin-America, as well a major hub for worldwide connections.

MAD has four terminals with an additional satellite. The airport capacity was doubled in 2006 with two new runways and an extra terminal (T4). This new terminal is linked with the satellite (T4S) by a small, driverless train with a transfer time of about four minutes. After this expansion, the older T1,2 and 3 became less crowded. T1,2,& 3 are used mostly by Star Alliance and SkyTeam alliances, the brand new T4 is used by Oneworld and Iberia (Air Nostrum).

Now there are four asphalt strips in directions of 15/33 and 18/36 serving the yearly increasing traffic.

Aerosoft’s new release

The name of the team ‘Sim-Wings’ is well known in the flight simmer community for their high-quality scenery add-ons. This team, in cooperation with Aerosoft, has released another excellent add-on in their series. The product is accessible through the vendor’s website both in a download and boxed version. The subject of this review is the FS2004 version, but an FSX version is to be released soon and will be available for free for all FS2004-version owners.

Old terminals of Madrid Barajas Airport landscape from on highl

Just put this add-on in your shopping cart at Aerosoft’s online shop, then proceed to the checkout and pay for it in the manner you chose (PayPal, credit card, bank transfer). Installing the executable download-file does not require any advanced computer skills, the whole process takes only a few minutes, it is easy and smart as usually.

After the installation, the pdf manual appears in the Aerosoft/Madrid 2008 folder of the Start menu Programs. There is no uninstall option in its menu folder.

Ramp entry A taxiing Jetair Fokker at the new T4

Documentation

It is never easy to navigate at a place that you do not know well. The manual does not help you get familiar with the airport, but it does come in four languages (German, English, French and of course Spanish) with the most important information: how to install and set up the scenery.

It contains only the necessary minimum information since it is only 42 pages (9 pages for each language). If I had been the author, I definitely would not have spent 40% of the manual on airport history. I would have attached a few airport charts for beginner users. I know, advanced simmers use real official charts (so do I) but the manual should contain at least a brief overview chart as the airport history refers to terminal numbers and we do not know which terminal is 1,2,3 or 4.

Bird’s eye view

Test System

Intel Core 2 Duo 2,33 Ghz
2GB RAM
NVIDIA9600 512MB
Windows XP SP3
FS 9.1.
Acer P203W 20" CrystalBrite Monitor
Logitech Wingman Strike Force FF 3D control system

Flying Time:
9 hours

The general appearance of the previously installed scenery add-on is the first impression we get when positioning our aircraft on the apron.

If we select a runway to have our aircraft positioned there, FS doesn't put the steel directly onto the runway, but onto the holding position at its end, so as not to interfere with traffic on the runway. Small, but a very clever feature.

Positioning our aircraft somewhere on the ramp, we find ourselves in the everyday life of Barajas Airport. Vehicles are moving, shuttle buses are continuously carrying passengers from gates to the aircraft and vice versa. Nowadays it is not an extra feature, but the required minimum at this level of add-on sceneries.

The airport has no rectangle shape from the air, it has very nice borderlines. It looks unreal if a scenery has an exact geometrical shape from the air. Aerosoft Madrid Barajas 2008 is very well placed compared to the default FS textures.

The plant life of the airport surrounding looks real, and textures are nice. All the asphalt markings are crisp and clear, readable even from the air with a little zoom. The airport itself had a bit of an empty impression on me. Developers decided to miss static aircraft, as there are only a few at the so-called ‘La Muñoza’ hangar. Aeroflot found static aircraft unnecessary since it disturbs the AI-traffic and online (i.e. VATSIM) flying as well. I think they are right in this case, but there might be an optional possibility of static aircraft for those who just want it to be perfect.

I never use any artificial traffic add-ons, I prefer online flying. If anybody would like to see some very nice LEMD 2008 screenshots with heavy traffic, please visit Aerosoft's website. There are several nice shots of Madrid Barajas life.

Going into the deep details

After the general overview now we can examine the small details which can make us feel better (or sometimes worse). Realistic docking systems are also basic standards in today’s flight simulation, this is also included in the package. There are two hangars with frequency controlled doors, but despite opening the hangar doors, we cannot taxi in. This is a question mark for me, but I never use this features anyway. I'm sure somebody probably does.

Runway 36L holding positions with working warning lights A Jetair Fokker shortly before touchdown
Buses off duty T4 from the air

For me the first and only thing is to fly. I always examine the details from the parking position until the lift off from the runway. Maybe it is not the best attitude of a reviewer, but I do believe all add-ons are for only one goal: to raise the realism and quality of flying. For those who would like to cruise around the airport in a virtual car, I strongly suggest Aerosoft create an airport simulation, afterall, this is flight simulation.

There is no moving jetway systems nor active ground handling service in Madrid Barajas 2008, but as an old Aerosoft Airport Enhancement Services (AES) user, I really do not miss it. AES gives full ground support; the lack of these features in airport sceneries matches the Aerosoft’s concept. Everybody should decide if it is good or not. But it is fact, that if anybody has a wide range of Aerosoft products, he or she has the AES stuff. If anybody buys just this airport for any reason, he or she will miss these features.

Gates of Terminal 3. AES adds moving jetways and active ground handling Brand new T4 satellite Terminal 4 by night

The custom terrain textures do not match Flight Simulator's default textures, therefore there are cuts in the motorways. Unfortunately, this is the difference between default and custom textures. No doubt Madrid 2008 has more precise textures than FS2004.

Users are right when they say: "some of the textures do not match the quality we always see in Aerosoft products." T1,2,& 3 textures look something like freeware textures.

In the very good level of development, there are still a few minor bugs. For example, the Iberia Maddogs’ standing at the Iberia hangars has interesting tail paintings: the Iberia logo is mirrored. The stand coordinates are almost unreadable and are in a big contrast with the docking system details and even the stand number.

AENA building – its texture is not a commercial add-on quality. The mentioned bad Iberia textures on Maddogs’ tails Terminal from the parking place side: quality could be a bit higher

Hardware usage

The minimum hardware recommended is a P4 3Ghz CPU with 256MB RAM and a 3D graphic card with at least 128MB RAM. If somebody wants to enjoy all of Barajas sights, they should own a dual core CPU (2,4Ghz) with 2GB of RAM.

My FPS limit in Flight Simulator is set to 30 FPS. I have tried the scenery with default aircraft, Level-D B767-300, Digital Aviation Fokker and PMDG B747-400 but I could not find any remarkable difference in frame rates. Do not forget, I got this result without any traffic and with VATSIM offline. These additional circumstances would eat some frames, but I am sure with the recommended configuration nobody’s sim will be destroyed.

As I turned on ActiveSky, I could manage my FPS down to 24 FPS while overflying Terminal 4 (this part eats the most FPS in the scenery). With my configuration I can play with almost constant 30 FPS very well.

There are many ground vehicles in the scenery The Iberia Cargo apron with parking trucks
Realistic ground textures, clear markings The impressive T4 – a work of art

Customer care

Aerosoft.com has a discussion & support forum where questions are going to be answered very soon by the authors. The Aerosoft guys are always accessible and very kind; please ask them questions only if you did not find the answers either in the manual or on the forum. I suggest all customers register here and share their opinions.

This version is for FS2004 only, but as it is written on the product web page, all FS2004 version purchasers will get the upcoming FSX release for free.

Summary

I am happy to have Aerosoft's Madrid Barajas 2008 on my hard disk; it is a good product in the series which makes our FS experience more enjoyable.

Purchasing this product we know what we get: good quality and high level of realism. I was very satisfied with its hardware usage; however, some of the textures could have a higher quality. I felt alone on the apron sometimes but this airport is too large to miss using a real traffic add-on if we would like to smell the everyday feeling of the heart of Spanish air traffic.

 

What I Like About Madrid Barajas 2008

  • Aerosoft quality
  • Optimal hardware usage
  • Nice overview
  • 100% AES compatibility

 

What I Don't Like About Madrid Barajas 2008

  • A few low-quality textures
  • A lack of detailed documentation

 

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