Aerosoft Berlin Tegel Professional
Review by Benjamin van Soldt
Some 9 years ago, when many of us were still on the fence about FSX and a great many simmers were still embracing FS2004 and all the potential that remained to be unlocked on then-powerful machines, I reviewed an Aerosoft scenery of Berlin Tegel. Since then I’ve always had a soft spot for Berlin Tegel. By all means, it’s an old-style, quirky airport, with a funny sort of terminal building and layout that doesn’t really befit the air travel of 2018. And that’s exactly why a long time ago Berlin embarked on constructing a new airport: Berlin Brandenburg International Airport. However, after significant delays, a major hike in building costs, and general mismanagement, the airport remains closed and unused until this day. Thus, the ageing Berlin Tegel remains in service, and Aerosoft has decided to grace us with the third version of their airport scenery: following an FSX-aimed modernization, we now also have Tegel Professional, specifically built for Prepar3D v4.
I thought it would be fun to look back at my old review and see how things have changed from 9 years ago – how big a jump did sceneries make in those years, with regards to detail? The original review can be read here, for your information: https://www.avsim.com/pages/1209/Aerosoft2/Tegel.htm
Now, what you see on those images was considered “high fidelity” back in 2009. Right now, that probably seems like a bit of a joke – and it’s probably not too much of a spoiler when I say upfront that the scenery reviewed here is a step up in its overall visual quality. Of immediate notice should be the lack of odds and ends on the apron in the FS2004 scenery: little poles and fences, electricity boxes – that sort of thing. Also, the textures have received quite the upgrade. But let’s not forget that with Prepar3D v4 developers have received a swath of new possibilities thanks to new technologies, just waiting to be leveraged for our benefit and flying pleasure. Thus, the bar is not set by what this scenery looked like in FS2004, 9 years ago – it is set by what competitors have achieves in this day and age. Did Berlin Tegel reach those heights? Read on and you will find out!
Installation of the product proceeds as per usual with any Aerosoft product. Upon receipt of download information from Aerosoft’s webstore, you get a serial key that is linked to your email address, as well as a download link to download the file. In this case there is just one: a zip file containing a license agreement in four languages, and the executable that starts the installation program.
Starting the setup program presents you first with a general window that tells you what you are about to install. Clicking forward through a license agreement gets you to a screen that asks you for the path to the Prepar3D v4 folder. Typically, this should be pre-populated by the setup program, but if not, you need to give it the Prepar3D v4 root folder. See figure 1. Frankly, in this day and age, where developers are urged not to install addons into the root folder, or any subfolders within it, I was a little disappointed that Aerosoft still does this.
Figure 1: The default installation path is the Prepar3D root folder.
Going forward then presents you with a screen detailing where everything will be installed, as a confirmation to your last action. This is useful, though it’s nothing particularly new: it has been a feature of Aerosoft’s installers for as long as I can remember. Still, it’s also a conformation that the scenery and its files will all reside within subfolders of the sim’s root folder.
Figure 2: The scenery is installed into various subfolders of the Prepar3D root folder.
When confirming this, the scenery installs. All you must do is wait. For me the installation process took no longer than half a minute or so, but of course your mileage may vary. Once the installation is complete you will be notified, but that’s not quite the end of the installation process. Aerosoft has been distributing charts with its airports, and more recently this has been accompanied by a software suite entitled NavDataPro. This has a subscription-based service for acquiring and viewing charts, but it’s also possible to go into an “offline” mode that allows you to view currently installed charts – such as supplied with the Tegel scenery reviewed here. To view the charts, you will therefore need to install the software. To some this may be a nuisance, as it means having another piece of software on your computer. Personally I’m fine with it. The UI looks nice and is intuitive. A column of airport names and codes is displayed, and you choose the airport you want to display the charts of. Then another column shows up detailing all the charts available, which allows you to view the actual charts. Below I’m viewing the airport parking chart (APC) for Tegel as an example.
Figure 3: NavDataPro is an intuitive and pretty piece of software that makes it fairly easy to see the charts. It might not be everybody’s favorite approach, though…
Once this piece of software is installed, you are done. The scenery should have been added automatically to Prepar3D’s scenery library, so that you should be good to go when you next start up the simulator.
Tegel configuration manager
Included with many Aerosoft sceneries is a configuration manager that allows you to turn on and off detail at the airport. I’ve always liked these Aerosoft configuration tools, because they show you where in the scenery you are activating the features. As you can see most of the options pertain to all kinds of traffic and people at diverse locations of the airport, but it also allows you to activate the photoreal background, as well as choose what kind of approach lights you wish to use. Overall a simple tool to use that does its job. What more could you ask for?
Figure 4: Tegel Configuration tool
Arriving at Tegel
When acquiring a new scenery, first thing I do is to quickly check that everything appears in order. With OrbX’s Global Vector addon we have received a wonderful makeover of our simming world’s vector data, but it comes with all kinds of elevation issues at some airports. Some are more persistent than others, but generally they can be fixed by going into the FTX Global vector configuration manager, going into the airport elevation tab, searching for your airport, and seeing if an elevation profile is active or not. I did this for Tegel (EDDT), found no elevation file, and thus assumed I was good to go. Fired up the sim in the default Baron, and found that, indeed, everything looked okay.
Note: for the purposes of my sim not crashing out of EHAM on the below described flight, I set the autogen to fairly low levels. You will notice a distinct lack of trees and houses in the coming passages. The trees will return later on, towards the end of the section titled “Miscellaneous stuff at the civilian apron of Tegel“
Having confirmed that all was okay, I proceeded to do a flight – but not out of Tegel, rather into Tegel. I generally like to experience a new scenery by arriving there and thus getting my first tour of the airport. It builds excitement, knowing that the more you fly the closer you get to playing with your new toy. So I embarked on a flight from FlyTampa’s Amsterdam EHAM into Aersoft’s Tegel EDDT. I will not bother you with all the details of the flight, but I will show you a shot of the airport as I flew by:
Figure 5: first view of EDDT, on approach to land at 26R.
As default ATC had me descend (rapidly!) to line up with the runway, I turned, configured the aircraft for landing, and finally came face to face with the runway:
Figure 6: On final into EDDT runway 26R.
Landing was smooth, though a little late, causing me to have to roll somewhat quickly to the very end of the runway, which culminates in a high-speed turn-off ramp towards the left. I quite like this design in Tegel’s taxiway layout. It seems fairly unique to turn off the runway in a taxiway shaped as a semi-circle. Frankly, this is the sort of thing that caused me to fall in love with Tegel to begin with, all those years ago: it’s full of slightly awkward, but charming, choices in the layout of the airport.
As I turned off the runway and crossed the parallel runway, I stopped and contacted (GSX-controlled) ground services for a follow-me truck. Of course, ATC directed me to a boring stand far away from the terminal (Figure 7). Please note that I do not know if this is realistic or not. KLM does not park at terminal A (the ‘fancy’ terminal with the jetways), rather at terminal D: I speak from experience when this terminal is a little underwhelming as a passenger.
Figure 7: Where ATC wanted me to park: the stand to the right of this Swiss A321.
Essentially one long corridor, you access the plane by going down stairs and either walking or taking a bus, depending on how far away the plane is. As such, ATC’s parking assignment for me (which is of course directed by the airport’s AFCAD, which contains the airline parking codes for each stand) was more than likely realistic. That said I decided to override their assignment and directed myself closer to terminal D. Greeted by GSX, I cut the engines and sat their quietly, enjoying the quiet after the engines stopped spinning.
Figure 8: Parked at Tegel’s ramp at a terminal D stand of my own choosing.
In the background of the plane you can see terminal D itself. Note that below it is terminal E. So yes, Tegel has five terminal, despite its small size. Now go ahead and think about all those big hubs that many of us like to grace with our virtual presence: Amsterdam has three terminals, Heathrow has five, Madrid has four, JFK has six… You get the picture. How Tegel, a relatively small airport, ended up with so many terminals? More on that later.
Walking around the terminals of Tegel
Having now sat on the ramp for a few minutes looking around the aircraft in spot view, I decided to stretch my legs. I had never used avatar mode before, but I can see why people like it. Frankly, I found the controls a little awkward, but it does the job very nicely. Time to give the terminal buildings a closer look! To start with, I decided to give our immediate surroundings a gander. The yellow building that I parked in front of appears to be a cargo terminal, as evidenced by a “Lufthansa Cargo” sign.
Figure 9: cargo facility overview. Some nice details can be discerned.
The detailing in this shot appears quite good. You see the various carts and other ground equipment strewn around, the light poles, and the 3D Lufthansa Cargo sign, all textured nicely with high resolution textures. I will say that it seems as though these textures are hand-drawn rather than being photorealistic, which is a bit of a bummer. More on that later. I do quite like the ground poly here, which appears textured well, too. I’d say that the white broken line could have had a grimier appearance around the edges, but now I’m being a little nitpicky. Let’s take a slightly closer look.
Figure 10: Walking along the cargo facility. It feels a little empty when you get up close, and the textures seem a little flat.
When walking along the cargo facility, the good first impression appears to have been a little misleading. The modeling is fine, and details such as the clock that sticks out of the roof are nice touches. However, I can’t shake the feeling that there are some missed chances here. The overall appearance of the building is a little flat and deserted. This appears to be a combination of several factors. First, there is very little in the way of scattered ground equipment. I’m missing the dozens of vans, follow-me vehicles, crates, barrels, containers you name it! Just google “Tegel cargo” and you’ll be presented with a variety of images that show that this ramp is a bit of a mess. I miss this feel in the simulator.
Another issue is with the textures of the cargo facility. For one, while they are fairly high resolution and appear true to life, judging by photographs found online, they are not photorealistic. Thus they are overly uniform and lack the variability you would have otherwise. Another factor is that the various kind of texture maps that are on offer were not used. I’m referring specifically to bump and specular maps, but also environment maps. The first of these gives you the impression of depth, even if the surface is all 2D. The second of these gives objects a shine, and the third gives a form of static reflections: these reflections will appear to move when you go by, but any new objects on the scene will not appear in the reflection (and this is what sets it apart from P3D’s dynamic reflections, such as you would see in the water, for example). I believe that if all these kinds of texture maps would have been used, the facility would have looked much less flat. Bump maps would have accentuated the ridges between the panels, and the panels appear to ‘pop out’. The specular map would have added a nice glassy reflection to those windows, and an environment map could have had a static but moving view of terminals A, D and E. Throw in some additional ground equipment, and everything would have felt much more alive. Which is not to say that it looks bad, but it is not quite on par with offerings from other developers that do use the aforementioned technologies.
I have also noticed that (probably in the interest of better performance) there is a sharp decline in detail when you move away from areas that are not directly in sight. I do not think this is a problem though, but in the interest of full disclosure, here’s what I mean:
Figure 11: Walking away from the ramp reveals less detail in areas that you are probably expected to visit less.
We are standing here in front of a power station that is apparently part of the airport. Dressed up in the typical “Tegel yellow”, as I’ll call it for now, it’s a rather drab affair. This, obviously, is not the fault of the scenery; that’s just what it looks like. I do wish there would have been more cars around. According to Google Maps, the front of this building ought to have been littered with both normal passenger cars, as well as service vehicles.
From this point, we are very close to terminal D and E. Terminal D runs the entire length of the building, and terminal E can be reached by taking a flight of stairs down at the entrance to terminal D. I’m not entirely sure how big terminal E is, but I’m guessing it’s fairly small as it appears to be jammed right in-between terminal D and A, but on the lower floor.
Figure 12: Standing in front of terminal D, looking towards the power station that we just visited.
Figure 13: Still at terminal D, looking the other way, towards terminal A.
Figure 14: More of terminal D. The walkways have transparent windows, and one of them appears to have a member of ground crew standing in them.
Looking back at the power station, figure 12 shows you one part of terminal D, whereas figure 13 looks towards terminal A. Figure 14 looks back towards the power station, though you can’t see it due to the bend that the terminal makes. Overall, the feelings I described with respect to the cargo facility pervade terminal D as well. Like before, the basic textures are quite nice, though here I did notice some blurriness and a rather pixelated appearance on the upper half of the terminal. It’s harder to see on the lower half, but definitely those textures are also not of a particularly high resolution. Here I can forgive it since it’s mostly masked by the shadow coming off the overhang of the upper half of the terminal, as well as the stairs down. Speaking of which, the stairs are not really modeled as stairs, and the entire walkway appears somewhat crooked. This is especially noticeable at the roof. I did not find any photographs showing this part of the terminal so I couldn’t confirm how realistic this is, but I’ll go with the assumption that this is the way it is in real life.
Overall, the modeling of the terminal is faithful, but I would have loved to see more ground equipment, as well as use of bump and specular maps. Like the cargo facility, the overall appearance of the terminal is rather flat, which would have been remedied to some extent by some specular effects on the windows. Comparing especially the ‘boxy’ overhang pictured in figure 13, these large glass panels appear very shiny. I would have liked to see the scenery approximate that effect.
Moving on, let’s head for terminal A. Now this is the dominant building at the airport, and I dare say it’s the most iconic feature of Tegel. The “Terminal ring” as it’s also called, this big hexagon is the only terminal building with jetways at Tegel. Let’s have a closer look:
Figure 15: closer look of Terminal A’s paneling and windows.
Terminal A’s hexagon shape is only disrupted a little by the large arms extending from it, giving it more of a sea star shape. These arms are what’s pictured in figure 15. Overall I quite like the appearance of the terminal. What’s noticeable here more so than in terminal D, was the effort that was taken to make the windows look a little shiny, even if it appears no specular maps were used. The effect, on a per-window basis, is relatively convincing. This is only broken by the fact that every window looks the same from every point of view. The textures of the red paneling look good though, though bump maps would have certainly helped to give the terminal more of a 3D appearance: those black crevices that delineate the red paneling would have look more convincing with the sense of depth a bump map would have provided.
Figure 16: Jetways and AI parked.
I like the above view: rows of jetways with aircraft parked at each jetway. I happen to really like both the texturing and the modeling of these jetways. For better or for worse, the jetways appear to be the most detailed objects at this airport scenery. I probably would have wanted to see high resolution textures for the lettering on the jetway, as it is quite noticeable blurry from a distance at which you would typically look at it when parking at these gates.
Figure 17: up close with a jetway. Some ground crew worker is fiddling with a fuse box? Uh-oh?
In the above shot I walked a little closer to the ‘base’ of one jetway. It appeared to be a jetway where some ground crew worker appeared to hang around, so I thought there might be something interesting to see. At first, mind you, I thought he was taking peeing… As I got closer I noticed he had an arm stretched out to a box of some sort. Seems like he fiddling with a fuse box… Not sure that’s a good idea, but I’ll just assume that he knows what he is doing!
As I mentioned before. The texturing is noticeably blurry on the jetway itself, which is a pity. It would have been great if those ads had been crisper. The concrete pillar on which the jetway rests, however, looks pristine. I also value the small details you see on the underside of the jetway, though the texturing of these bits and pieces appears a little funky. Not sure if it’s supposed to be all orange and red? I would have expected tones of grey.
Figure 18: the jetway is modeled with a lot of detail, as well as these strange signs that, I assume, are for purposes of aircraft parking. Not sure how they work, though.
Figire 19: A closer look at that strange white board: a way to position parking aircraft?
Let’s have a closer look at the jetway proper now. I really like the detail of the modeling here. There are all kinds of little things to look at, such as the stairs, some cones, and equipment of which I’m not sure exactly what the purpose is. Most arcane to me is the big white board with all the aircraft designations. I tried to find information on what it’s supposed to do, but wasn’t successful. I thought it might be an old-style way to park aircraft at the correct position? Here’s how I imagined it to work: you see those flaps that project of the main board? The flaps are positioned next to aircraft designations, and one side is red, whereas the other side is green. I imaged that, perhaps, the pilot would first have to find the correct designation for the aircraft he is flying, and then look at the flap next to the aircraft designation. When his view is perfectly aligned with the flap – meaning he doesn’t see either red or green edges – he is positioned properly. As such, if he sees a red edge, it means he hasn't gone forward enough; if he sees green, he has to stop. You might have noticed that the flaps are not all positioned at the same angle with the white board, either. All of them are a little different, but you might notice that the flaps residing next to designations of big aircraft (B747, A330, etc), the flap is angled relatively more towards the terminal. This would be consistent with an aircraft of such size having to move closer to the terminal in order to be parked properly (this would be required, not so much because of the size of the aircraft, but because the relative positon of the main entry door along the longitudinal axis of the aircraft). Again, no idea if this is what the board is for, but it seemed to make sense. I do appreciate the overall precision with which this board was recreated, though!
Figure 20: Looking along terminal A, with the tower in view.
Moving on, another view of terminal A, but this time a different perspective. We’re looking along terminal A, in a somewhat eastern direction, so that we have the tower in view. As you can see, terminal A’s main structure is relatively uniform, but there are some additional structures that are worth a look. Such as some stairs, as pictured above. I do wish that the windows here would have been transparent, to be honest. This is the type of thing that will look fine from a distance, but when you get close the visual trickery becomes all too apparent. With many computers having caught up these days with at least the minimal requirements of P3D, I believe the scenery could have been pushed a little further in terms of its visual fidelity. This is one such instance.
Figure 21: Baggage cart at terminal A.
Now here’s a nice sight: the ground equipment strewn around the airport is generally modeled and textured well. The assortment of differently textured suitcases is especially the kind of detail I like to see. That said, there is way too little in the form of such ground equipment. I would have liked to see many more of such baggage carts positioned around the terminal, to give it more a feeling of busyness.
Figure 22: ground markings.
One final item to look at at Terminal A: some of the gate-specific ground markings. I quite like them. The textures are crisp and clear. They look good, though perhaps a little bit more wear could have been added around the edges, specifically of the aircraft designations.
Figure 23: Terminal B and tower.
Moving on from terminal A now, we arrive at the terminal B building as well as the tower of Tegel. I’ve always found these buildings, even though I’m not a fan of their stark, concrete, brutalist appearance, to be iconic in their own right. At first glance, the rendition in this product is very good. The shapes and sizes appear accurate, and the texturing was done well. At first glance one would even think that the interior of the terminal was modeled. However, that’s why we are taking a closer look: for the most part this is visual trickery. The interior has not been modeled, but a clever texture that appears to reflect the outside, as well as picturing the columns that stand on the inside of the terminal, give a sense of depth. I find the effect very good – but keep in mind that you are viewing static images. In the simulator, sadly, it’s less convincing. One flick of the hat switch pans your view around, and you instantly see that the sense of depth is fake.
These days, more often than not, it’s normal to model the interior of an airport. Personally, I don’t need to see it, but I tend to appreciate it if it was done – as long as it was done well. It always annoys me to see a nicely modeled interior, but without any passengers sitting on the seats or walking around. Then the airport just appears deserted, which I think is much worse than not having a modeled interior. I bring this up just to say that I’m fine with the approach that was taken in the main terminal building here at Tegel – though again I wish specular and bump maps had been used. I also noticed the 2D appearance of the “Otto Lilienthal” sign – this I would have liked to see modeled in 3D.
Similar comments can be made with respect to the control tower, which appears to be a faithful recreation, but the textures used for the windows are not particularly good. Not because of their resolution no, it’s because it looks like somebody closed all the blinds… Here, modeling the interior might have made more sense, or at least to use a dark texture, in addition with a specular map to give that nice, glassy shine. What I do like is that little walkway you see extending from terminal B. As one of the few structures in this scenery, its glass roof received a transparent texture.
Figure 24: Cars parked in front of the tower.
Here’s the thing that I do not quite understand: look at those cars pictured above. You see that sheen on the front windows? Clearly some specular maps were incorporated in the scenery, so why only on the cars? Why not on the windows of the various buildings as well? One possibility is that these cars are part of a larger “Aerosoft library of objects” that are commonly used between projects. I do not know if that’s the case, of course.
Moving on, we are now walking towards terminal C. First on our path we bump into these temporary “barrack”, for lack of a better word. Probably used as just some office space, I was pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of the texturing. I’m not sure that bump maps were used here, but at least the appearance is 3D due to the clever use of shadows. Critically, these textures appear to be photoreal. Now one can see how powerful photoreal textures can be when they are compared, within the same scenery, to models that do not have those textures (such as the cargo facility).
Figure 25: Temporary office space near terminal C?
Having looked at that, we move beyond it to reach terminal C. If anything, Tegel feels like a haphazard collection of buildings from various eras – and this is exactly what’s going on. Apparently, Tegel was built at high speed to allow for the Berlin Airlift, and was gradually expanded over the years. As such, Terminals A and B are the oldest, though not ‘original’ parts of the airport. They were only built in 1964, some 15 years after the airport first opened. Terminal D and E were opened in 2001 and used to be car parks, while terminal C opened in 2007. As such, terminal C’s modern, glass appearance is not a coincidence, for it is indeed, by all standards, a fairly modern building.
Figure 26: Terminal C
Figure 27: Terminal C, walking along the terminal towards the east.
Figure 28: Terminal C’s L-shape means we get to walk around a corner and continue in a south-eastern direction.
The trio of screenshots just above give you a view of all of terminal C. It shouldn’t come as a surprise anymore when I say that the overall appearance of the Terminal C and its ramp is best described as ‘empty’. The terminal building itself looks fine, mind you, but again I would have to stress the importance of using bump and specular maps to flesh out the details. The windows and doors look great, though: the reflection you see in them gives them a dynamic feel that is perhaps missing in other parts of the airport. That said, I’d have preferred a specular map and environment map so that we may have a more ‘dynamic’ feel to the reflections, as currently they are just a static picture.
There is something else I want to highlight, which brings me back to the emptiness of the ramp: take a close look at those reflections in the doors and windows and note what you see: tons and tons of ground equipment! This is especially clear in figure 27. I wish that this ground equipment would have been actually placed, since it would have dramatically spruced up the apron and the overall feel of the scenery. An option in the provided configurator would have given people with weaker machines to turn them off, if need be. I did check Google Maps to see how much ground equipment they picture on satellite images, and the answer is: considerable amounts. Probably triple that of what’s provided in this scenery.
I do wish to emphasize that this is purely a problem of quantity, rather than quality. The ground equipment that is there looks very good: nice modeling and good texturing. I just wish there was more of it!
Miscellaneous stuff at the civilian apron of Tegel
A this point we have roamed around the terminal area of Tegel, as well as seen the cargo apron where our KLM Boeing 737 is still dutifully parked. Now we will walk over to the other end of the apron, back where we came from, and look at what appears to be a maintenance area. Over there you will see the fire station, some fuel tanks, as well as an impressive maintenance hangar. I will also share some thoughts on the ground markings, the grassy areas and other details we come across.
Figure 29: ‘Zollambt’ – customs office.
First a little detail that I forgot to share previously: the customs office, or “Zollambt” in German. It’s a fairly small building, but I suppose it’s entirely in line with what you’d guess a customs office to look like: fairly depressing. Texturing is fine, though, again, specular maps would have made the windows look better.
Figure 30: fire station with a couple of fire trucks.
The fire station, pictured above, is on the other side of the cargo apron. It retains the basic aesthetic of the cargo facility, and sadly it also retains the very flat appearance of the textures. As before: bump maps to give a sense of depth, and specular maps to give some nice shine to the windows could have made the fire station look much more ’alive’. This doesn’t mean it looks bad as it is; just not as good as it could (or should?) have looked. The detail on the fire trucks, on the other hand, is very nice. I appreciate the photorealism of the textures used. Overall it seems like a faithful recreation of the real thing.
Figure 31: Fuel trucks parked next to the fire station.
Walking past the fire station gets us to a bunch of fuel trucks parked along the edge of apron. Behind them are some large tanks, that I assume contain the fuel. The modeling of the tanks is fine – not sure what can be done wrong about tanks – and so what I’ll focus on are the trucks themselves. These look very good. Overall, I’ve been very happy with the modeling of all the ground equipment, and the fuel trucks are no exception. The use of photoreal textures is good, and it’s what gives the trucks their very realistic appearance. I wish that structures such as the fire station would have received a similar treatment.
Figure 32: The larger of the two maintenance hangars. Some nice detail around that signs carrying the airline logos.
We now come upon the maintenance area of the airport. There are two large hangars here, the first of which is pictured above. Overall appearance is fairly impressive: a large building, it definitely looks used from the perspective of avatar mode! I’m quite fond of the texturing here, too. It appears to be photoreal for the most part, and even though it’s not as crisp as one might want, I think in this case it’s fine. Typically, this is not a structure one would be very close to. I like the details in the modeling too, specifically the flood lights near the top of the roof, the signs that carry the airline logos, and the little lights protruding from the upper edge of the signs.
Figure 33: The second of the two carries AirBerlin as the sole airline logo on its facade.
We walk past the Lufthansa/British Airways hangar and come across the second of the two major hangars, which appears to be owned by AirBerlin. These days, AirBerlin is not doing too well – they might have gone broke already! As such I’m not too sure what will happen with the AirBerlin hangar pictured here. I won’t be surprised if it ends up in the hands of Lufthansa.
At any rate, the hangar is modeled well. The texturing is good; I like the use of the photoreal textures, and appreciate the detailed modeling, in the form of the various floodlights along the roof and upper edge of the AirBerlin sign. There are some small details modeled such as red electrical boxes on either side of the long hangar.
Having looked at the maintenance hangars, time to have a look down and discuss the quality of the groundpolies. The pretty ground you see beneath us in addons nowadays is generally a multi-layered affair, with the taxi lines, concrete base texture (the grey texture), the pavement outlines (the edges of the concrete slabs, for instance), the taxiway edges, any dirt or pools of water, etcetera, are all modeled separately and textured separately. Typically, these layers will all be made to be a little transparent, so you can still see some of the details of the satellite ground imagery that serve as a base for the entire scenery. The idea is that details are made to look good using the custom-made textures, but any bigger variation in apron wear (such as repairs that cause some of the apron to look newer) are also somewhat visible (since layering everything with the same grey texture will generate a monotonous and unrealistic apron).
Figure 34: Some of the ground markings found on the taxiways surrounding terminal A.
Figure 35: Ground markings to be found at the gates.
It is evident that all these techniques have also been used in this scenery. As you can see, a base grey “concrete slab” texture is overlaid by a square pattern texture. Overlaying that you see the various ground markings such as the taxiways, parking signs and whatnot. I quite like the textures used for the base layers as they appear crisp and clear, and the same can be said for the taxi lines. I like the subtle, but not overly crazy, wear and tear in the form of small cracks. What I’m less taken with are the taxiway and gate direction markings, as they appear a little blurry and slightly pixelated. This is especially clear in the “25” in figure 34. Granted, I doubt you’ll really notice this from your Boeing or Airbus cockpit, but for those visiting Tegel in a small GA plane, they might see this slight pixilation.
Time to switch it up a little. From here on I started a new session using the default Baron, taxiing around to get the feel of the airport a little from the cockpit of this small airplane. I tend to stick with this plane for a lot of my exploration of new sceneries given how erm… inoffensive it is in many ways. Additionally, I cranked my autogen settings to max, and so you will see the trees are back! Frankly, this gives a whole new dimension to the scenery… Suddenly all that empty space that surrounded the airport is now filled with lush parks and neighborhoods full of houses.
Figure 36: taxiway bridge.
That said, the first thing I want to show you is the above taxiway bridge. Note that, for those that looked at my review of the FS2004 version of this scenery, the ‘bridge’ aspect of the scenery was missing. There would be cars ‘burrowing’ themselves into the ground it seemed. Fortunately, this is one area wherein this scenery was improved from its ancient forebearer. Now there is an actual bridge and traffic goes down under the bridge, to come back up again on the other side. Though sadly, the way this bridge was made does not appear to be entirely in line with its real-world counterpart. Going into google maps (or google earth), you can see a 3D representation of the airport. You will note that the taxiway itself has a slight upward slope, goes over the road, and then seems to come back down, whereas the taxiway in this Tegel scenery is entirely flat. Granted, the height differences are not big, but big enough to discern them, I’d think.
Figure 37: Taxiline is cutoff
As I was taxiing back to the runway, I noticed a couple of things as I compared my route to google maps. First, it seems a lot of the repairs that were done on the taxiways didn’t quite make it into this scenery. Which is not to say that none of them did – but some of them didn’t. Especially closer to the terminals the tarmac of the taxiways appears more pristine than its real-life counterpart. That said, a lot of the repairs are fairly subtle, and so not as easily seen perhaps. I do have to admit that I didn’t miss them at all and was fine with the appearance of everything – until I found that they probably should have been there.
Another thing that did appear a little strange was that at least one taxiline appeared cut off, as seen in the image above. The taxiline, in real life, in this location is right at the edge of the taxiway. What appears to have happened is the following: The taxiway line has a high “vertex” count (the smallest building block of a polygon is a vertex – more vertices result in a more detailed polygon), and as such it appears very nicely rounded, whereas the taxiway itself has a low vertex count – causing it to look much less rounded and more ‘blocky’ with sharp corners. This difference is causing the taxiway line to ‘disappear’ in areas where it is more detailed than the taxiway itself. Preferably I would have seen the taxiway edge to have the same vertex count as the taxi line, but I do admit that I only noticed this particular issue on my fifth or sixth pass at this location.
Figure 38: The grass
One last thing I wanted to mention here is the grass. Many sceneries that I have used over the years have just kept the satellite imagery as-is, often packing it into a polygon to increase its sharpness and resolution in-sim, as polygons are rendered differently from satellite background imagery. The latter can often appear blurry whilst the polygon placed on top of them will look crisp. In this scenery they took a slightly different approach, as they overlaid their grass with an additional grass texture. I’m not too sure I like the look though. For one it’s a little repetitive and it gives the field a rather uniform look. I did make out the satellite imagery below it in areas, but from the vantage point of the ground, this is almost invisible. You need to be in the air to see it, and even then, the grass looks too uniform to my taste.
Across from the passenger terminals, on the other side of the two runways, is a long apron with an old-looking terminal building and a bunch of hangers. The Aerosoft chart included with the product notes it as a military apron, though the total lack of anything particularly military confused me initially as I was trying to figure out what this apron was supposed to be. Some of the hangars feel rather “GA”, whereas the long terminal-like building gives the air of a 80’s, utilitarian-style terminal. But, apparently, it’s military. Another look at Google Maps did finally show me a hint of this: parked all the way at the eastern edge of the terminal building that’s at this apron, stands an A340, the German flag wrapped around its fuselage along its longitudinal axis: it’s the state transport, called “Konrad Adenauer”. Clearly, this military terminal is used for visits of government officials as well as state heads. I parked my Baron near a GA hangar, got out, and walked along the apron.
Figure 40: One of the GA (?) hangars at the apron across from the passenger terminals.
Figure 41: Two more hangars.
Without knowing whether these hangars are actually for GA purposes or not, I can tell you that I like their modeling and texturing. The photorealistic texturing compliments the modeling, which is just detailed enough to see the dynamic shadows casting down the staggered doors. Overall it has an old, authentic look to it that compliments the overall old look of the airport.
Figure 42: Some kind of path?
Walking a little further did reveal a blatant error. Running from the hangar area to the military terminal, there is a path. Except in this scenery, it is modeled as two parallel taxiway edges? A strange sight, and an obvious error that needs to be corrected.
Figure 43: The military terminal in its entirety
Walking further along this would-be path, we come upon the military terminal itself. Not knowing what else to call it, that is what I will call it now…
It’s a drab and lifeless building, typical of the 70’s and 80’s, I suppose, though I’m not sure that this is when the structure was built. The modeling and texturing reflects this very well. Sometimes, when you see an ugly building in a scenery, that doesn’t mean that the developer did a bad job – sometimes the building they were modeling is simply ugly. This is such a case. For the modeling, while it could have been a little more detailed, is absolutely fine. The texturing does the job as well, though I once again must stress that the addition of bump maps, specifically for the windows of that control tower-like structure in the center of the terminals, would have probably lifted the overall appearance of the building to new heights.
Figure 44: garage at the military apron.
A little further we come upon a garage of sorts. I do like the texturing here, the slight reflectivity that is part of the texture makes the garage doors come to life, though a specular map would have probably made it look a little better than the static reflective texture that is used currently.
Figure 45: Some old hangar at the military apron.
The last part I want to highlight of the military apron is this old hangar. The texturing is fine, if lacking a little crispness. I’m not too sure about the modeling though, as it looks extremely flat. I’m not too sure this is the sort of thing that is receptive to more detail, though, as probably the only thing that could realistically have been done, is to make the doors a little indented into the model. I do believe something like that would have made the entire model look better. Google Maps does reveal construction going on at this site – or alternatively, they are trying to make sure that the entire thing doesn’t collapse by placing supports along the facade of the hangar. That said, I’m not too sure about the age of the imagery shown in Google maps, and as such the supports may have been removed or not been put up yet at the time the scenery was developed.
Tegel sits amidst parks and neighborhoods. The previous incarnation of this scenery that I reviewed had a very limited satellite imagery that accompanied it. Essentially, the scenery stretched until the perimeter of the airport, and that was basically it. This scenery has expanded on it brilliantly, by including a fairly large swatch of the surrounding neighborhoods. See below:
Figure 46-49: Surroundings of Tegel airport.
The quality of the satellite imagery itself is not perfect, seeming a little blurry in areas. It’s a strange effect. Look closely: some areas appear relatively crisp, whereas others do not. Now please note that I’m using OrbX’s Germany North here, and so the colors are clearly not adapted to this scenery package, though I’m fairly sure they will blend in with P3D default textures as these are themselves a little washed out. That said, I appreciate the extent of the surrounding scenery that is included, for it’s definitely much more fun to approach over the real neighborhood rather than a stock texture. For those that also have OrbX’s Germany North, this OrbX scenery package does include its own photoreal coverage for Berlin, and so you may not be too taken with Aerosoft’s implementation, given its different color. I also noticed, as seen above, that there appears to be an autogen exclusion rectangle of sorts that cuts deep into OrbX’s territory, so perhaps these two sceneries are not 100% compatible. I didn’t think too much of it, but I can easily see that it will disturb some people.
Some other thing I wanted to mention is the autogen with which the imagery is annotated. If you are like me, on approach you will be mostly concerned with flying the airplane, and so the autogen will definitely be in your sight, but not in your mind. And so it will look perfectly fine to you. And to a large extent this is completely true: the majority of structures, for as far as I could see, were properly placed. That said, there is some degree of inaccuracy here. This is not entirely strange, as placing autogen 100% correctly, especially when annotating manually, can be tough! But, what I’m talking about here is not that: it’s about the intentional inaccuracies.
The problem is this: P3D allows only two types of autogen: square ones, and ones that form a line. The first category are the “normal” houses and offices you see throughout your P3D world. The second type are the rowhouses you see in cities, and also portrayed in the third of above images. This means that any building that looks in anyway different cannot be realistically modeled with autogen. In those cases, the developer typically has two options: model something themselves, or use square autogen to get the job done. The first takes time, while the second looks bad. You can see in the second image of the above series that they obviously went for the second approach. Here there is a Y-shaped building that was remade using a bunch of square office-type building. It doesn’t look good and I wish the developer would have made his own model. Even if a generic texture were used at least the building would have had a semi-realistic counterpart, rather than this heap of default autogen. That said, I doubt you will really focus on such things when you actually approach the airport. For the purposes if this review, though, I do feel obligated to highlight such shortcoming, but keep in mind that you are fairly unlikely to notice it.
Tegel night environment
An important aspect of a scenery is its presentation at night. In that respect P3Dv4 has given us probably one of the biggest improvements in a long time: full dynamic lighting. Finally, we have airports where the night lighting affects the airplanes that it shines on, and this gives some beautiful-looking effects. Of course, dynamic lighting in and off itself does not guarantee a good-looking night environment. The additional textures for the building need to be on par as well.
Figure 50: night environment of the surrounding scenery
Coming back from our flight over the suburbs, the night lighting is definitely satisfying. The time was taken to color and adapt the imagery to have a full featured night map, though note that the little light effects that you see floating above the major roads are more than likely a part of OrbX’s Germany North scenery. Overall it looks quite good.
Figure 51-52: Overflying the airport at night
We overfly the airport, so we can have a look at the aprons. This is obviously where you will spend most of your time at Tegel, so it should look good at night as much as at day. I believe that it does not disappoint. I like the light cone effect coming from each of the light masts, and the coloring and texturing of all the night maps looks very good indeed. To me it looks like a realistic rendition of what Tegel would look like at night.
Figure 53: approaching in the dark
Coming in to land at night looks good overall, though I would have liked to see the runway lights ‘blazing’ more than they do. Typically, when viewing them from afar, those bright, white runway lights coalesce into one and are made to look ‘blazing’. I miss that effect here a little, so perhaps that’d be something to consider for a future patch of sorts.
Figure 54-55 viewing the night lighting from the ground.
Taking a closer look, I’m struck by the night lighting. While perhaps not the most realistic night lighting out there, it’s definitely up there and looks very good. In some areas the terminals look perhaps a little bit too light, but overall it doesn’t seem to be too much of an issue as everything blends together well. Indeed, one thing to look out for is sections of buildings not matching well in the coloring or lightness of the night textures, but such issues I didn’t find here. Overall it appears to be well done. The implementation of the dynamic lighting also works well, and I think that it’s partly due to this that the night lighting appears very even from building to building.
So far, I’ve toured around Tegel in summertime. However, supplied with it are several seasonal variations. That said, while the photoscenery that surrounds the airport appears to have separate variations for summer/spring, winter and hard winter, it doesn’t seem like the textures for the airport ground are all that different. These have a distinct winter/hard winter variation, as well as a grass texture that appears in spring and summer. See the images below. I would have liked to see at least separate variations for winter and hard winter, as the stark white snow texture that appears in winter sticks out a little bit too clearly from its surroundings in ‘normal’ winter time. Other than that, it looks fairly good. I will add one thing though that Aerosoft enabled here that I wish every scenery developer would add for their P3Dv4 sceneries: automatic season switching. This is a possibility now either through SODE or P3Dv4’s native coding environment. I’m glad Aerosoft enabled this, so that you’ll never forget anymore to change the season of the ground when starting the flight!
Figures 56-59: the photoscenery that surrounds the airport has several distinct variations, depending on the season, but the airport grounds come in “covered in snow” and “not covered in snow” variations only.
I believe this is what many of you want to know about, perhaps most of all. As is probably clear, while Tegel has some nice details throughout, it’s by no means a highly detailed scenery. Ground equipment does not litter the aprons and many textures are not at incredibly high resolution. These factors combined means that performance of this scenery should, theoretically, be good, but is it really? When I arrived on my initial flight, I was flying the aging-but-still-stunning PMDG 737NGX. I then did some taxiing with the Leonardo Maddog X and Aerosoft CRJ (not shown) and ended with the default Baron.
I self-assembled my machine some three months ago, and overall don’t have any particular performance troubles with the sliders medium-high. The usual suspects (Seattle, L.A. NYC) are still problematic somewhat. Other than that, I manage to pull steady 25FPS (locked at that) with nearly anything I fly at many locations.
As such, I’m happy to report that, even with autogen and scenery complexity sliders full right, I was still getting a steady 25FPS at Tegel. Note that I did have the autogen radius and detail radius to medium settings, as I typically do when flying passenger airliners. Overall though, I do believe most with modern machines should not have any trouble at Tegel.
Key components of my machine are as follows:
Intel i5-8600k @ 5.0gHz (OC’ed)
EVGA GTX 1070
16GB 3200MHz DDR4 RAM
1TB Samsung 860 Evo SSD
I have personally always liked Tegel for the little, quirky, sort-of-60’s-and-70’s look that it has, and overall this Aerosoft scenery is a very nice representation of the real thing. However, save for the nice P3Dv4-style dynamic lighting, it is also stuck in the past. The terminals appear accurately modeled, as well as the larger facilities and hangers, but the devil is in the details. There just isn’t that much of it in this scenery, especially given that we seem to be in a time in flight simulation that I would expect to see such details. Moreover, because Tegel is not particularly big or in a part of the world that has notoriously bad performance, such that extra ground equipment or the likes would have an unacceptably big performance impact. Additionally, I believe that performance compromises can easily be implemented using a configuration tool – which is already included anyway! Adding more ground equipment would have given the airport more character and using the already available configuration tool these could have been optionally turned off if people felt that the performance impact was too high. It is such things, plus the lack of photoreal textures in some areas, plus the lack of bump and specular maps, that makes the scenery look a little bland in comparison with recent releases from other well-known developers. As such, while I believe that Tegel is a must for any Berliner flightsimmer out there, as well as those that would enjoy flying to Tegel regularly, I’m not sure other people would be as taken with it. All that said, it does result in scenery that performs well, even in the presence of OrbX’s Germany North scenery.
So how does this scenery stack up to the FS2004 version that I reviewed some 9 years ago? Frankly, the differences are not as huge as you’d think. The biggest differences appear in the textures, which are of higher resolution, as well as added detail in some key areas. For example, the gates have some additional equipment. However, due to the lack of bump, specular and environmental maps, the scenery hasn’t tried to make as much use of the newest of technologies as you’d expect from a scenery that was released within the last year or so. And thus, while the scenery does scream “FSX”, it doesn’t quite say “P3Dv4”. So yes – there certainly is a jump from FS2004. But I don’t think that the difference with the Tegel X product, which was built for FSX some years back, will be as big.
Aerosoft Tegel is a nice rendition of a classic European airport that is worth acquiring if you would regularly fly into it, but don’t expect the kind of detail that we have seen in the likes of other releases of the past half year or so.
Benjamin van Soldt
Edited by Chuck_Jodry-VJPL