A lot to cover today, so let’s jump right in.
Recall our 741 reminisces last week? Well, with at least one 742 about to hit the market, how about a quick spotter’s guide for older 747s?
- The 741, steam gauge city and note, typically just three windows per side on the upper deck, at least on the earliest versions:
2. Whereas on the 742, you’ll typically find 8 windows per side on the upper deck:
3. The 743 was the radical departure, now seen with the original elongated upper deck and a glass cockpit – but without the winglets found on the 744:
The Delta 741 pictured above was a frequent visitor to Dallas Love Field, by the way; it was a gorgeous aircraft and the huge cockpit was intimidating in its day. I flew to ATL on the way to FRA in this very aircraft…so kind of good to see her again.
Despite being a little smaller than aeroSoft’s last file (EDNY Friedrichshafen), this latest airport contains a vibrantly lifelike airport as well as an unusually deep city file and, as a result, we hope this marks a turning point of sorts for aeroSoft going forward. Many of their recent efforts have been devoid of such detail, and with poor night textures the results were dismal. Still, you won’t run into either of these issues with this new file.
You’ll not find smeary blue window textures here, yet this is a small terminal and you have to wonder why the developers didn’t opt for a modeled interior. I guess the answer to that question is almost obvious, however: they needed the headroom to power the city file. Still, these windows are devoid of life and make the terminal look like a closed facility, or maybe the interior of a giant freezer.
The model doesn’t waste CPU/GPU power on the terminal entry or parking lots, and we don’t like the results – but – this is a flight simulator, not a parking lot simulator so we can live with the results. Still, when you look at a tdg or Mr X airport you’ll find better results…yet that takes us right back into the scenery object library debate…and we’ve had that conversation before…and besides, the attention to detail seen in the custom objects below makes up for all that other stuff.
You’ll find the industrial areas around the airport nicely done, too, and even the nearby suburban tracts are convincingly nestled on contoured ravines – and the results are simply excellent, despite some blurry ortho textures doing double duty as parking lots and parked cars.
When you first explore the city of Dortmund you’ll want to do so in a flutterbug or a fixed wing that will allow you to putter around at slow speed. This is a rich, densely modeled area that is fascinating and immersive. The area is, in other words, a highlight of the file.
Dortmund is located in the Ruhr Industrial Area, yet the city is ancient even by European standards. Read this, from wikipedia’s introduction to the city:
Founded around 882, Dortmund became an Imperial Free City. Throughout the 13th to 14th centuries, it was the “chief city” of the Rhine, Westphalia, the Netherlands Circle of the Hanseatic League. After the Thirty Years’ War the city was destroyed and decreased in significance until the onset of industrialization. The city then became one of Germany’s most important coal, steel and beer centres. Dortmund consequently was one of the most heavily bombed cities in Germany during World War II. The devastating bombing raids of 12 March 1945 destroyed 98% of buildings in the inner city center. These bombing raids, with more than 1,110 aircraft, hold the record to a single target in World War II.
The region has adapted since the collapse of its century-long steel and coal industries and shifted to high-technology biomedical technology, micro systems technology and also services. In 2009, Dortmund was classified as a Node city in the Innovation Cities Index published by 2thinknow and is the most sustainable city in Germany.
EDLW is currently serviced by five airlines with a short but impressive list of destinations, and you can fly to many Mediterranean and Eastern European destinations, as well as a few short inter-city RJ flights, including Munich and London Luton. A few Greek and Atlantic Island options round out the list. Below, the real airport:
Perhaps this file, along with Friedrichshafen, represents a kind of “pause and take stock” moment for aeroSoft. We hope so. After a string of unimpressive airport files they desperately need to “up their game” in order to remain competitive in this constantly evolving market. Looking at images of aeroSoft’s recent files for the FsX/P3D crowd, I am NOT impressed with what I see, and as the catalogue of Laminar’s LegoBrick tools continues to grow, and improve, payware developers won’t be able to stand still and try to pawn off the “same-ole, same ole” for much longer. There are simply too many good freeware files hitting the market now.
Still, that statement is not meant to imply there’s no market for payware in the X-plane ecosystem. That’s simply not true, and everyone knows it. What that statement does mean, and explicitly so, is that the market for mediocre payware is going to dry up real fast, and looking over this file it seems to me that aeroSoft finally “gets that.”
This file has good depth on the ramps but lacks weathering and other detail (i.e., clutter), yet the buildings are excellent, and decent at night. We think it was a mistake to not model the main terminal interior but understand why; still, we see this as a missed opportunity to compete with the DD design ethos (re: Warsaw Chopin).
The lack of a more detailed terminal entry and parking lot detail was an odd omission, but again, we view that as a compromise reached to allow a more detailed city file to be developed and included as part of this effort. Still, the interior seen above would have been interesting.
All in all, this is a solid effort that falls short in only a few areas, yet it’s still possible this is going to be a hard sell for many people simply because the real airport is a minor player on the world stage. And while that may be the file’s Achilles heel, we’d nonetheless recommend you give this one a try if at all interested in this part of Germany, and Europe. RJs, 737s, A319s, and even GA flyers and flutterbug operators will all find something to like here.
Rather than just present EDLW today, we thought that a few new freeware files might put the opinions expressed above into sharp relief.
The next file we’ll look at is a small GA facility in New Jersey, one not at all far from New York City. Given our growing list of great freeware and payware files in the region, including iBlueYonder’s Nantucket, Minute Man and Plum Island, as well as great airports on Block Island and Long Island, this airport will fit into a really interesting matrix of truly good GA airport files. So without further ado, here’s N07 Lincoln Park airport, complete with a nice coffee shop:
From the Victorian light posts to the runway and taxiway markings, this little airport is detailed to the max, and in practice this airport simply “feels good.”
Yes, if flying out Long Island you’ll transit the NYC/LaGuardia TCZ but that should make this an interesting, if complex training flight if flying under ATC. You’ll find the file here:
And we highly recommend you try this one out.
The next file we’ll look at is located in Japan and the airport is quite literally almost under Mount Fuji’s shadow, and this is also an excellent file that pushes the boundaries of just how good a freeware file can be. In other words, if this is freeware, just how good would a payware file have to be in order to represent a competitive choice in the market? Anyway, here’s RJNS Mount Fuji / Shizuoka Airport:
I hate to even mention this, but compare this file to Dortmund, just the airport, and compare in terms of immersive potential and how it feels in day-to-day use. The thing is: I’m just not sure aeroSoft is going to like the answer to this proposition. In fact, if you have the time I’d recommend you do just that: try them both and see what you think about the airports. The EDLW file includes the city, yet this RJNS file also includes a detailed Mount Fuji file, as well as orthos and detailed bridge files. The surrounding area in this file is impressive as can be, and I’d say almost equal to the Dortmund effort…but you decide.
You’ll want to look over the runway lighting too, then putter over the surrounding city to really get a feel for all this area has to offer.
Located SW of the Tokyo metropolitan area, when you fly between these two cities you’re going to do so with Mount Fuji just off your wingtip, and there just aren’t too many files out there that will present you with this opportunity (The list of airlines and destinations is kind of interesting too, though no Tokyo airports are listed – bullet train, anyone?).
Yes, night textures on windows could be better, but that’s not a fair gripe for freeware, but like Dortmund our guess is most of us will look this one over and say “no, thanks.” With most of the available destinations located in Korea and China, just how many people in Grand Prairie, Texas are going to be interested in this? And that’s always been a problem in X-plane, hasn’t it…?
Because there are no payware files for major Japanese airports, let alone Beijing or Seoul. There ARE a few good freeware options in Japan (try this one), but by-and-large many of the options fall short of current standards, so unless tdg or someone with similar skills gets to work the situation won’t change anytime soon. It hasn’t over the past ten years, anyway. And Japan would be SO interesting, even for domestic flights. The mountains are surreal just west of here…
Anyway, you’ll find the file here:
We highly recommend you give this one a try.
One last file, and just a quick look around for now.
Welcome to UKLL Lviv Danylo Halytskyi International Airport, located in Lviv, Ukraine (in the far western part of the country, about 30 miles from the Polish border). There’s a decent list of airlines and destinations, so we’d say if at all interested in expanding your stable of airports in Eastern Europe you’re going to want this file.
Still, you might look this file over for another reason. Yes, to compare with aeroSoft’s recent files, and no, we’re not picking on aeroSoft. We ARE yet again calling attention to the rapidly increasing quality of freeware files AND trying to raise the alarm for payware developers! Again, payware file developers really need to kick it up a notch, because the competitive environment is showing no signs loosening up. So…fly your Toliss A319 from Vienna to this little gem and then on to EDLW, then think about what you experienced.
You’ll find this UKLL file here:
Again, we really like EDLW and we think aeroSoft is moving in the right direction with this release. Still, when you look at recent payware efforts (such as in Poland, with one of our favorite small commercial airports, FlyDesign’s EPSY) you just have to step back and look at the overall picture in order to understand how rapidly this market is changing. With fresh young designers moving into the market and eager to show-off their talent, things are only going to get more interesting.
Y’all have a great weekend – A