Aerosoft has recently released another Mega Airport, this one is a detailed recreation of Düsseldorf International Airport; ICAO: EDDL.
The airport is located in Düsseldorf, Germany in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It is the third busiest airport in Germany after Frankfurt and Munich and ranks 20th in all of Europe. In 2011 just slightly more than 20 million passengers passed through the airport’s facilities.
The airport was originally opened in 1927 and with the exception of the time during the Second World War when it was used by the military it has always been a civilian airport. The airport currently serves as a hub for both Air Berlin and Lufthansa. The airport has two runways; 5R/23L @ 10,474ft and 05L/23R @ 10,809ft.
The airport is served by a number of public transportation links. The Autobahn A44 is a major road link to the airport. Rail travel is another means of getting to and from Dusseldorf as it is served by several categories of German rail types including the ICE (Intercity-Express) lines. The Dusseldorf railway station is located about 2.5kms from the airport and is connected to the main terminal via the airport’s Skytrain monorail link.
Installation of Aerosoft products is a very simple process. You must install as administrator and for those of you who may not be familiar with how to do this you simply right click on the installer executable and select “run as administrator”. The installer will require you to supply your email address and serial/registration number given to you at the time of purchase. It will also want you to answer a few questions such as; which simulator are you running, FSX or P3D, it will also want you to confirm that it has the correct installation directory path, do you want static aircraft to be installed and finally if you want to run the Launcher setup. This may sound complex but it is really a very simple and user friendly process.
To be able to use the product it must also be activated so you will need an active internet connection. All of this is clearly explained in the product manual.
Two PDF documents are included; the product manual and a charts manual.
I found the product manual to be quite good with information for both the FSX and FS2004 versions of the scenery add-on. They cover a full range of topics necessary to enjoy the product. I did come across a few places in the manual where they forgot to replace the German language text for English.
Performance in FSX is always a concern and they have several pages where they provide recommendations including screenshots of their FSX settings. Here there is a big problem, first of all the screenshots are in German. Not insurmountable as the FSX settings boxes are laid out the same regardless of language so you can easily transpose the information.
The bigger problem had to do with their recommended display settings, in my opinion they are way off. When set as per their recommendations I found that the below grade train tracks near the Dusseldorf station were filled in.
I changed the display settings to what I normally use and here are the results.
You also get a complete set of up-to-date charts which is quite nice so you won’t have to go on the internet and search them out.
Once the product has been installed you will have access to two configuration tools; the AesLite EDDL X Traffic Configuration utility and also the Aerosoft Config Tool.
Both are very easy to use and I think self-explanatory. The big thing to remember is that you must use them when FSX is NOT running and that the changes will take effect the next time you run FSX.
You will use the AesLite EDDL X Traffic Configuration utility to enable or disable animated traffic in the areas shown and the Aerosoft Config Tool is where you will select your seasonal textures. Both of these screens will be familiar to anyone who has previously purchased Aerosoft scenery products.
The first thing I want to do is show a top down view of Dusseldorf Airport in FSX and the version from Aerosoft. Apart from sharing the same basic airport layout you really can’t compare the two.
| || |
Aerosoft has not only recreated this mega airport with an amazing amount of detail but they have also brought it to life with some very interesting visual enhancements.
The way Dusseldorf is set up; there are two parallel runways; 05R/23L and 05L/23R. To the south of runway 05R/23L is where the aprons, de-icing area and the majority of the airport’s structures are located.
The scenery base textures are created from high resolution photo images. This provides a base which is full of detail and allows for accurate placement of objects. These types of textures are used for both the ground and hard surfaces providing for excellent results. I especially like the hard surfaces and the way subtle differences from weathering and the use of different surface materials is visible.
| || |
| || |
The flip side to using photo ground textures is that they can show objects that haven’t been replicated in the scenery. This is fairly common especially in parking lots. The large parking lots located next to the airport are a prime example of where we see this. The photo textures show that they are quite full of cars however most have just a few 3D vehicles or none at all.
I was disappointed with this. I realize more objects mean a bigger strain on the PC however they might consider making it a configuration option or placing these objects in separate files so we can add or remove them depending on our system’s capabilities.
I also noticed this same type of problem but to a lesser degree at some of the aircraft parking stands. Again the issue was ground textures showing objects that weren’t replicated in the scenery.
Another minor drawback with photo textures is that sometimes the add-on will look out of place as its own base textures don’t always match up with the adjacent default textures and this happens to be the case with Dusseldorf. Unfortunately there really isn’t much the developer can do. Despite some drawbacks the visual benefits from using photo image textures far outweigh the negatives.
For such a large and busy airport, Dusseldorf has relatively few buildings. For me I saw the main terminal as the focal point; it is the largest and also the most interesting structure. The terminal complex consists of the main C shaped terminal building along with terminals A, B and C which jut out from the main building.
Overall the terminal complex is really well done and very realistic indeed. They combine high quality imagery with lots of detailing to capture the unique look of the building.
| || || |
Looking at the terminal structures overall, there are several interesting features. One of the most noticeable is the curved, almost air foil shaped, windowed wall that greets passengers as they arrive by road.
Grouped in with the terminal building are the two multi-level parking garages. What makes them interesting are their shapes and for the much larger circular structure, its rooftop. As you can see in the screenshots they paid a lot of attention to getting the stepped wall pillars and the rooftop areas to look very real by adding discrete details and also the use of high quality photo imagery.
Parked at any of the terminal’s aircraft stands you can get a good close up view of the jetways and appreciate the work that has gone into them; they include many small intricate details that boost realism while sitting in the cockpit. This is also a good vantage point to admire the transparent look of the large glass encased open stairways.
It is at the gates that you also experience their implementation of a working “AGNIS” system, Azimuth Guidance for Nose-In Stand visual docking systems. The system gives the pilot visual clues helping them maneuver into the parking stand. I used the system in a number of different stands and found that it worked well.
Just behind the terminal complex and with a commanding view over the airport is the control tower. The architecture is very typical for a control tower however this one has an interesting feature, an exposed stair case that ascends the entire length of the tower from the ground up to the controller’s pod.
The remainder of the airport’s structures share many similarities when it comes to their basic design and also the way they were rendered in the scenery.
The majority of them are single storey hangars or storage facilities. Techniques used to recreate them in the scenery include the use of high resolution bitmap images augmented with extra details.
West of the main terminal are several small hangars, these are located along the edge of the main apron and the general aviation apron.
| || || |
Immediately east of the main terminal and also along the apron’s edge are several other hangars, these ones are used by Lufthansa and next to them is the airport’s fire station.
| || || |
Continuing east is the cargo area which is comprised of several hangars including the Air Berlin facilities, what looks like a maintenance hangar and then finally the Dusseldorf train station. The maintenance hangar stands out with its elaborate external support ribbing. Very nicely done.
| || || |
The ground textures that extend beyond the airport to the south have been populated with some commercial buildings. These are a welcome addition to the scenery giving it additional visual points of interest.
An interesting aspect of the airport and a scenery highlight is the network of roadways and rail lines that are found on three of the airport’s four sides. They include below grade rail links and roads with tunnels, overpasses and underpasses. All of these interesting features have been modeled so you can experience them rather than just see them on flat bitmap images.
Leading up to the terminal from the A44 autobahn is an intricate multi-level road system that encircles the parking garages. The way they’ve been able to recreate these roads with all of the different levels is very impressive. To go that one step further they’ve added road signs and animated vehicle traffic.
The airport has been populated with a wide variety of objects and vehicles and they are another significant reason why the airport looks as realistic as it does. The quality is very good, which is not a surprise considering the quality of everything else.
Included are all types of objects integral to the operation of any airport plus others that are added to make it look alive and vibrant. Besides including vehicles that are painted in generic markings a great many of the vehicles found within the airport grounds now show airport and airline specific markings which is great.
This is another small touch that makes the whole environment seem that much more realistic.
I believe that animations are an important part of any airport scenery; they bring a whole other level of realism and this airport is a great example of how animations add value to a scenery package. With the inclusion of AESLIte we get to experience all types of animated traffic throughout the entire package.
The Autobahn A44 route that runs along the southern boundary of Dusseldorf is an interesting feature. On the high resolution photo base textures they added animated road traffic, information signs and they have also modelled the various overpasses and underpasses that are adjacent to the airport. The end result is very impressive.
Besides road traffic we also get animated rail traffic. The airport is serviced by several rail links with two rail stations plus the airport’s monorail system known as the “Skytrain”. It’s probably the most visible with the elevated tracks running the entire length of the airport’s southern boundary and the hanging railcars that can be seen travelling along this system.
| || |
Running on both the eastern and western sides of Dusseldorf are the rail systems that connect the airport to the country’s rail network. Each of these has been recreated where they meet the scenery’s boundary. They’ve included the Dusseldorf train station including terminal platforms and the overhead electrical lines. With AESLite we see the trains moving along the tracks at regular intervals. The animated rail traffic includes both the S-Bahn and ICE trains.
| || || |
Winter ground and tree textures are included but must be selected via the Aerosoft Config Tool. The airport’s winter portrayed is very believable and well done.
| || || |
Flying in and out of Dusseldorf at night was lots of fun. Every necessary aspect of the night time environment appears to have been done with the same care and eye for realism as was the daytime. It was easy to get lost in the moment.
| || || |
As a mega airport, I had expected performance might take a hit but that wasn’t the case, my frame rates remained high at all times.
| || |
| Test System |
• Intel i7 960 OC @ 4.2 Ghz
• 12 Gb RAM
• EVGA GTX560 Ti w/1.2 Gb
• Win 7 Ultimate 64
• FSX w/acceleration
• UT2, REX Overdrive, GEXn, UTX, AES, GSX
Test Time: 18 hours
Reviewed By: Rick Desjardins
What I like about Dusseldorf X
- Basically everything about this airport
- I especially liked how they modeled the nearby rail and road systems
What I don't like about Dusseldorf X
- I would have liked an option allowing the user to install additional static vehicles in the large parking lots adjacent to the airport
- Some basic errors in the manual that should have been picked up during the editing process