Berlin has three airports: Schönefeld, Tempelhof and Tegel, also known as Otto Lilienthal. Of these three, Tegel is the most important. Tempelhof is closed, and Schönefeld is a lot smaller. Tegel airport doesn’t lie in Berlin, though: like most airports, it’s outside of Berlin. In Tegel’s case, it’s more to the north, in a section of the borough of Reinickendorff, called Tegel.
Now, Berlin Tegel is a relatively old airport (as you will soon read about), but still recognized for some of its benefits and good design decisions. For example, Tegel is famous for its short walking decisions. This being because of the main terminal being hexagonal: the gates are laid out around a central parking lot, where also buses and taxis wait for their passengers. From plane to taxi or bus: it’s never far away.
Tegel, besides the hexagonal A terminal, has four more terminals (B, C, D and E). B, C, D and E are farther away so the “short walking distances” argument only holds for terminal A, although we can safely say that walking distances are for sure a lot shorter than in airports like London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol or New York JFK. Generally, you can see that every terminal has its own entrance, and they even seem to have their own parking lots. Terminal A seems to be the largest, though.
Aerosoft has done something somewhat strange by recreating this airport for FS2004 and FSX (although, honestly, I don’t mind. I have always wanted to see this airport done well for FS). Why? Because Tegel will soon not be the main international airport of Berlin any longer. A “new” airport is being built, although it really can’t wholly deserve the term “new”. It uses parts of the infrastructure of Berlin Schönefeld airport, and with that, is more “Schönefeld rebuilt” than a new airport. The name of the new airport is Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport.
A history lesson
Tegel is an airport with a rich history, stemming all the way back to the 1930s. It was built on a place where rockets were usually tested and what used to be the French sector Germany’s capital in the cold war era. It survived the Nazis, the bombings by the Allied forces, and became the most important airport in the cold war era because of its long runways (at that time, it had Europe’s longest runways). Airliners that had flown to Tempelhof transferred their operations to Tegel because of this: next generation airliners, like the Boeing 707, couldn’t be handled at Tempelhof because of the runways and general capacity of the airport.
As of 1986, more and more airlines were “transferred” to Tegel. Tempelhof became congested with traffic, and not enough use was made of Tegel. In an attempt to alleviate Tempelhof, Tegel became more populated.
Following the reunification of Germany, also the constraints on air traffic to and from Berlin were lifted. This allowed free access to airlines and rules and regulations that were active in the cold war era were lifted. Lufthansa started with more flights to and from Berlin to various destinations. Airline companies like Air Berlin, that were US companies in origin, had to make a decision: either move away from Europe (EU legislation didn’t allow US carriers to operate within EU in that way without being stationed in the EU) or become a European company. Air Berlin opted for the second option and became German, and to this day they have their hub at Berlin Tegel.
Installation and Documentation
Installation is simple and straight-forward, and it just like with any other Aerosoft product. You receive two installers: one for FS2004 and one FSX, depending on the version you want to install. You then enter your serial key and email address. Luckily, these two are independent of FS version and you can install it as many times as you like, on as many computers as you wish. There doesn’t seem to be a limit on this, as I have been installing Aerosoft products on what actually is one computer, but I did have some hardware changes and an OS downgrade. It always worked fine.
The manual comes in English and German. Both the languages are bundled in the same PDF file, so you don’t have to meddle with multiple manuals. The layout is clear and it’s a nice manual to read through. I can’t comment on the German, but the English is easy to understand and it’s clearly written.
The manual discusses the history of the airport and goes on about performance issues and compatibility with other scenery, although it doesn’t go beyond Aerosoft sceneries. It seems that everything there is to tell, is being told in this manual, which is good of course. There is also a second PDF file with relevant charts: something that every serious airliner pilot will be happy with. Every chart you could imagine is included here. Even a chart that signifies all places where a light is installed (taxi lights, runway lights etc.) is put into this neat PDF file.
I think the documentation is good. It’s useful: you get all relevant information, including the best settings for the best performance, and the charts included are extensive and will provide you with ample information.
With sceneries, I tend not to talk too much. It’s the screenshots that tell you the most, so I will provide you with ample screenshots. First I’ll take you around the FS9 version of Berlin Tegel viewed from the ground.
I don’t think the difference between the FS9 and FSX version is very big, or at least as far as I could see. Besides, in FS9 I have active camera, meaning I can walk around and show you the buildings from much closer. I can’t do this well in FSX.
From the ground – FS9
The level of detail of this airport is rather uniform, and in my opinion you can see the same from the air as from the ground, so that’s why I’m going to keep this paragraph rather short. Note that this is the only chapter to include FS9 screenshots!
So until now everything looks fine, but there is one glaring problem with the trees on the car park. Just look below:
As you can see, cars and clouds can be seen through the trees. While you won’t see this problem if you taxi around terminal A, B, D and E, if you go around the airport (around terminal C, and then to terminal E and D along the back of terminal A and B, there is a taxiway there too) you will notice this problem. Sadly, this is something within both FS2004 and FSX. I have seen it more often and I’m not sure what causes it.
For the rest, I’m happy with what I’ve seen: neat texturing and professionally done modeling. The ground textures may be somewhat blurry, though.
From the air
I will now continue solely with FSX screenshots. Basically, I have tried this airport with four aircraft: the default Robinson helicopter, the default Cessna 172, the CS757 and the CS727. With the last three I have completed approaches into the airport from both directions. Below I will show you some of it. Let us start with the Robinson helicopter.
That should give you a good overview of the airport in FSX. As you can see, the amount of detail in FS9 isn’t really expanded upon in FSX. Moreover, I noticed that some of the blurriness that was present in FS9 is also in FSX, which is a pity. Again though, this could also be due to my settings, although I don’t think the difference will be that great. And besides, if I set everything at the max, the performance would become really bad…
Now I’ll proceed with some animations that I spotted that were very nice. For example, we have working traffic lights!
When I first saw this very complex set of animations and scripting and whatnot, I was truly impressed and still am. Not that many people will actually see this while they land their plane, but this is a magnificent attention to detail that I rarely saw and I greatly valued (provided the scenery doesn’t start lacking in more important detail, of course).
We are not yet ready to leave here, though, because we can follow these roads a ways into town.
These buildings, like the traffic lights, provide nothing in terms of functionality, but when you are doing your approach, it is an addition to your first experience at this airport. The ground textures, as always, are blurry but the buildings look good and there is traffic driving over these roads, which is of course, also nice.
Now let’s go back to the airport. I haven’t shown you how the entryway to this airport looks.
So here we are. Again, this is very blurry but I have gotten used to that by now. The point is, that the traffic here flows very nicely over these roads and it’s really nice to see how neatly this has been done. There is just one problem to be found: look at the second screenshot.
Because like at Amsterdam Schiphol, which the big international airport of my home country Holland, the traffic goes under the taxiway. Sadly, this bridge has not been modeled but still the traffic goes under the taxiway. This gives us a comical view of traffic sinking into the ground and then emerging on the other side. I wish this had been done in a better way…
Next up is the Cessna 172. I will keep this brief and only show you some extra stuff I noticed while taxiing and flying around.
And finally, let’s have a look at the airport at night.
As you can see, the night lighting is pretty good. A soft golden light for most areas and around the buildings and parking lots it is more white’ish, which seems perfectly acceptable. It certainly is a nice airport, especially after dusk.
With that out of the way, it’s time for an approach with the CS727. However, let me make one thing clear: I know my landing was bad. It’s about the performance, and so I didn’t pay as much attention to the landing as I should have.
As you can see, during most of the approach I got between 7 and 11 FPS, averaging at around 9 FPS. That’s not great, but it’s doable. Plus, remember that my computer is getting old. I’m absolutely sure there are people that can easily get 20FPS on this approach. For the rest, this is a rather nice approach, and the lighting of the airport gives it a very nice atmosphere.
Now we go back to daylight, as I taxi around Terminal A area with the CS727.
These final screenshots are the last I’ll be showing you, and I will conclude this chapter of the review with one more thing. Sometimes I tend to pick airport sceneries by the question, “is there AES support there or not?”, because it adds such great value to ground operations.
I’m happy to report that AES works for the FSX and FS9 version of Berlin Tegel. My final conclusion will be next, but first a few words on performance.
As I said, I tried this scenery in both FS9 and FSX, and in FSX I flew around with the default Robbinson helicopter, the default Cessna 172, the CS757 and CS727. Below is a small table on the performance these aircraft returned in FSX (these are no FS9 figures!). As an added “bonus”, a lot of the screenshots have the FSX FPS counter in their top-left corners, so you can see what the FPS was for each situation. Granted, they don’t all have it, but the most important ones do.
Regarding these FPS, I should say two things:
- It has always been my personal experience that in FSX, 8FPS gives a smoother motion than FS2004 ever did. Why this is, I have no idea; but that’s the way I experience it. Granted, 8FPS is rather bad but my standards are also fairly low, because my computer is a laptop and is over 1.5 years old. I don’t expect it to perform great. What this means for you, is that you’ll probably have way better performance numbers than I had if your computer is better than mine!
- In FS9, the FPS wasn’t drastically different. However, as I said, this means the motions are choppier than in FSX for reasons unknown to me.
Summary / Closing Remarks
And so we come to the end of this review. I have shown you Berlin Tegel airport from all sides, at day and at night. The buildings and objects are all very nicely done, with great attention to detail and a complexity that we have come to expect from Aerosoft products.
The vehicles on the airport grounds and the roads outside of the airport are a very nice touch, and stuff like a vehicle crossing where vehicles stop for aircraft is something that I greatly value (no greater annoyance that I can think of was, while taxiing you have to stop for one of those default airport vehicles). Also, the traffic lights are an innovation I have not seen before and I thought they were very nice.
Texturing of the buildings and objects is all very good, and although not everything is as sharp as I would have liked it, what is in direct view of the user is very sharp and is also a delight to look at. Ground textures, though, have problems. They are often blurry and there are some mismatches that ought to be corrected.
Overall, I think this airport scenery is quite good and represents the real airport in a realistic way, and I can recommend its use to whomever fancies flying into Berlin regularly.
What I Like About Berlin Tegel
What I Don't Like About Berlin Tegel
Tell A Friend About this Review!
All Rights Reserved