Aerosoft / Simwings Heathrow 2008
Review by Joe "Mutley" Lawford

The worlds favourite airport?


Heathrow's humble background harks back to a small grass airfield with an army surplus tent that acted as terminal one! The Great Western Aerodrome as it became known was requisitioned by the Air Ministry to be developed as a major transport base for the Royal Air Force in 1944.

As traffic boomed Heathrow Airport found itself with an ever-increasing demand for passenger facilities. The Queen inaugurated a new building in 1955 (Terminal 2) and the tunnel which provides the main road access to Heathrow's central area was opened.

Next came the new Oceanic terminal handling long-haul carriers, a function it still performs as Terminal 3, followed by the opening of Terminal 1 in 1968. Increased congestion in the central area led to the birth of Terminal 4 in 1986 on the south side of the airport, a modern facility but an inconvenient 10-20 minute transfer from the heart of Heathrow.

This year, 68 million passengers will fly through Heathrow using terminal facilities designed to accommodate 45 million. Heathrow Airport’s new Terminal 5 will open to passengers on Thursday 27 March 2008 and will have the capacity for 30 million passengers a year taking Heathrow's total capacity to around 90 million passengers. This will make Heathrow the world's busiest airport .

BAA is already redeveloping Terminal 3 and when Terminal 5 opens, it will modernise Terminals 1 and 4. BAA has also received permission to build a new, environmentally-efficient terminal called Heathrow East (replacing Terminal 2 and The Queens Building).  The new terminal will not increase the capacity of the airport, it will simply replace the old buildings with a new, updated and environmentally-aware building Heathrow East is expected to open in March 2012


                        CLICK ON PICTURE FOR FULL SIZE VIEW


This airport is huge, from terminal 4 out in the South East corner to terminal 5 in the West. The software really brings across this expanse in long or high views. 

With the new Terminal 5 and extensive changes being carried out it was inevitable that FS developers would soon follow with their "interpretation" of the airport.

Simwing's are usually on the ball and they have been here, they have been airside with permission of the BAA taking photo's of present developments so what you are seeing here is as up to date as it can be.

The new taxiway and building layout is already known so you can be assured of the accuracy, they have even the present building work modelled too.   

Approaching Terminal 5 from the new M25 intersection.



Regular Aerosoft customers will be familiar the the installation procedure, this product is no different it installs with no effort from the user other than a few mouse clicks after a download. The unlock code is provided by mail and thereafter on your account page at Aerosoft.

During the installation you can choose not to install static aircraft, this would be the preferred option for people who like to use AI or traffic programs. Next is the option to install high res textures at 1024x1024 or lower at 512x512, having checked both, if you have a lower spec machine the lower resolution will be the way to go to maintain those frames and still have perfectly acceptable textures.

As with all good installers a backup of your pre-installation scenery.cfg is made.

T5 - First look.

Naturally I headed straight to Terminal 5 and the new control tower to see what they were like.

Terminal 5a is pretty much what you see in the news, a huge building 40m high by 396m long enough to house 5 full size football pitches and a distinctive wave-form roof. Other than that it is pretty featureless but you do get an idea of the internal spars that hold up the roof. To the rear is the multi-story carpark and next to it a building which is the new "Energy Centre". 

There will eventually be 3 concourses, T5a (the main building) T5b which is also modelled is actually longer than the main concourse being 442 metre long but only half as wide and T5c which will not be completed until 2010.  T5c is shown as a building site as it is in real life and quite rightly Simwing's have not attempted to model it as it will be.

Presently there are around 34 piers modelled in T5a & T5b.  They all have either the AGNIS guidance or the Safegate  docking systems, eventually the T5 complex will have 60 stands.

The new control tower dwarfs the old one at a height of 87m (285ft) it has full 360° view of the airport and will house 55 controllers. The 4.6 metre diameter steel mast and three pairs of cable stays anchored to the ground are shown along with the three-storey technical and administrative building.

The rendition of the new tower is the best I have seen so far, there's not a great deal of detail but that's just the way it is in real life.



T5a with familiar wave form roof
Control tower - 87m tall

AGNIS guidance system T5b a smaller terminal but with more room for larger aircraft.

Terminals T1 - T3.

The centre section, where T1, 2 and 3 and the Queens Building are, again depict the present work being carried out so you cannot fault Simwings on their accuracy.  All of these buildings are there in their present form but should be updated in time to their new form, I am led to believe these will be free as part of the on-going development of the software.

You can see from the overhead and ground views so much detail of the many interesting buildings including the old control tower and radar.  Also shown are various ramps, advertising boards and road directions.

The main terminal areas also get their share of detailing, as you can see below there are many familiar features, take a good look before they change!


Central overhead view
Terminal 1, Queens Building, Terminal 2 and Control Tower

Terminal 3 already being developed AGNIS with Mirror parking with inset from VC

The central complex of terminals also use Safegate docking along with a AGNIS PAPA/Mirror combined system, easy to use and understand.

One thing you will not see are animated gates in this airport. A lot of the Simwing's airport scenery are compatible with Aerosoft's generic Airport Enhancement Services, this will give you the animation along with many other features but will cost you 5 AES credits for this airport and would be well worth the cost. For us lesser folk that do not have AES it is a tempting upgrade!


Terminal 4

T4 to the south of the runways is home to 6 airlines, the 2 major ones being British Airways and KLM.

The terminal handles approximately 14.2 million passengers a year and has been carefully modelled with detailed ramps to the car park at the rear and the connecting covered footway to he Hilton Hotel.

There is plenty of room for large aircraft here and loads of parking on the apron using the standard AGNIS stop system the terminal gates however uses yet another different system, the AGNIS PAPA!  You certainly get to see and use a lot of different systems and it's nice to think that the developers have taken the time to perfect this.



Aerial view of Terminal 4 with Hilton hotel to the right

The main concourse with apron parking to left

Cargo and Maintenance Areas

Again to the south of the runways is the distinctive BA World Cargo building with the large BA ribbon banner. a huge apron as you may expect and is shared with the Air Canada cargo Terminal.  The EL AL cargo terminal is shown using an enclosed apron. There are other cargo operators but not shown in any great detail.

The BA maintenance area lies to the east of the perimeter road and is accessed by passing through a sliding barrier.  There is also other maintenance hangars noticeably BMI as well.

You can open the BA hangar doors by entering NAV1 frequency 112.00. To close the doors simply select a NAV1 frequency different to 112.00.

To open the barrier to get access to the maintenance area you select a NAV1 frequency of 113.00 you then pass across the road to the maintenance apron. Anyone seeing this for real knows what a great sight this is to watch!



The BA World Cargo building
The enclosed apron between EL AL and Air Canada cargo

The BA maintenance hangar and barrier opening Patiently waiting to cross the road.

Night textures.

This airport looks great at night, a compliment to the developers I can assure you! T5 comes alive with a green glow as does all the taxiway markers. The tower has a nice low brightness glow too.

The T1 -T3 complex is bright and busy as you would expect with the aprons are adequately lit.

Oh, before I forget, there is photoscenery included of the airport environs, this gives you a nice feel for the surrounding roads, this will only be apparent if you are flying overhead or having to go around, a nice touch it just goes to help the realism.



Sunset, Heathrow sparkles! The calm that is LHR Control Tower.


Overall I am very, very impressed, luckily I have a reasonable spec machine and I could run with max scenery at high FPS, however I took Simwings advice and ran at 80% traffic. 

There must have been concern with processor usage and CTD's as Simwings were very quick to release a V1.1 which addressed these issues along with converting DXT3 formats to DXT1 which considerably reduces the download size.

For owners of FSX we have the promise of a free upgrade, if it's as good as Budapest then wow I cannot wait, bring it on.

So much kudos to Aerosoft/Simwings, this has to be the best rendition of LHR yet! 

My review machine specs: Heathrow 2008 Links:

Self build:
MSI Intel 975X PCI Express Motherboard
Intel E6600 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo
4x 512Mb DDR2 667Mhz PC5400
Nvidia 7900GTX 512Mb DDR3 PCI-E
Windows XP Pro SP2
FSX with SP2 installed
Aerosoft web site
LHR 2008 home page
Simwings home Page

  Mutley says.. . . .

I hope you enjoyed this review, if you have any comments then you can contact me here


Works best in!
Firefox 2

Mutley's Hangar © 2006 - 2007 All Rights Reserved.