Mutleys Hangar - Aerosoft Nice review

Nice Côte d'Azur X Airport
For FSX Published by Aerosoft
Reviewed by Joe (“Mutley”) Lawford
September 2009

Introduction
Just released from Aerosoft is Nice Côte d'Azur X Airport. A totally new product from one of their talented developers Peter Werlitz, of Madeira X, Lisbon X and German Airfields fame.

Nice Côte d'Azur Airport (IATA: NCE, ICAO: LFMN) serves some of the worlds most glamorous and expensive regions, the most well known of these are Cannes and St. Tropez as well as being the state airport for the Principality of Monaco.   It was opened in 1944 and has now become the third busiest in France.

Due to the limited available space, the airport has dedicated close proximity parallel runways; south runway for take-offs and north runway for landings (unlike most airports where the runway adjacent to airport terminals is used for departures). The 2 parallel paved runways are 04L/22R and not surprisingly 04R/22L: 2,570m and 2,693m respectively with an high speed exit which can make 50 movements per hour possible.

Approaching and departing aircraft have to maintain special procedures for noise obtainment. The approach leads over water and departure requires a direct turn to the open sea.

It has two terminals which handle about 10 million flights a year between them. Terminal 2 is the busier of the two and is easily distinguished by the smart glass circular terminal which was built as recently as 2002.  Terminal 1 is more associated with the business and domestic flights.

There is a large helicopter zone to the south of the airfield which has 14 pads and serves cities like St. Tropez and Monaco. It has a small boarding lounge of its own of 652M2  This is conveniently situated away from the main runway and has an approach pattern which doesn't disturb the main flow of traffic.

The airport host many well known airlines such as BA, Aer Lingus, Alitalia, Delta, Emirates, KLM, Lufthansa Aeroflot and Air France to name a few.

 

Installation, Pricing and Features
Nice Côte d'Azur X Airport is available by download and and only for FSX. This follows Aerosoft's publicised decision to develop to the strengths of FSX for technical and commercial reasons.

Priced at only €17.95 (Inc VAT) this product represents excellent value for money when compared to other single airport sceneries out there, even in Aerosoft's own range; I wonder if this is a reflection of the present global economic situation pushing the price points down?  In any event, this is good news to the simmer who likes to collect airports.

Downloading from Aerosoft is always an uneventful affair, in my experience their product servers are the fastest out there and restores my faith in my broadband speed.   At 200Mb, the file is one of the smaller download sizes I have seen for airport sceneries so I wonder how much detail and quality they contain? We will see.

When installing, the scenery will take up 390Mb of disc space and notifies FSX so there is no need to manually add the area to your scenery list. If you ever decide to remove the scenery then the included uninstaller will update the scenery library too, this is always a sign of a well written installer.

Looking at the FSX/Aerosoft folder I find no less than 6 pdf files. There is the usual recommended setup guidance manual along with a link to the French SIA Aeronautical Information Service to get the most up to date charts. The other pdf's contain VFR, approach, heli, aerodrome, AIP and more. Probably too much information!


Runway & approach charts, plenty of factual information (Not for real world!) to keep you busy

So it's time to look at those features that made us hit that checkout button.

Published Features
 
• Completely new designed scenery for FSX
• Highly detailed virtual replica of the airport and its surroundings incl. regional objects
• Photo realistic ground textures (1m/pxl)
• All airport buildings and institutions
• Realistic navigation aids (ILS, VOR/DME, NDB, ATIS)
• Numerous taxi- and runway signs
• High quality textures, both photorealistic and hand-painted
• High speed taxiways allowing planes to leave the runway at higher speeds.
• Excellent night effects
• Realistic runway and taxiway lighting
• Numerous scenery effects
• Fully AI compatible
• Fully supported by AES (with the next AES release!)
• Excellent frame rates
• A perfect companion for our Monaco X scenery
• Extensive manual with information about the airport

Airport detail and realism
When reviewing scenery I like to see details that make it feel like I am actually there.

If there is a building that is round it should be as close to a circle as the software permits, not portrayed by an octagon. 

Nice Côte d'Azur Airport terminal 2  is a futuristic looking hub with darkened glass.  To the right you see that you get the same feel with the software; the  glass even has proper transparent textures that doesn't suffer from the "SP2 syndrome" and if you look from the inside out, you feel that you are in air conditioned comfort.

If you roll your mouse over the pictures to the left and wait for the new image to load you can decide for yourself.

Now we are getting the feeling that this scenery could be something special if the developer is creating textures for  the inside of this terminal.  Of course you will need to be in slew mode to be able to see and appreciate it.

This draws me further in and I want to go exploring.

First of all I will look at the buildings and static features within the airport environs.

Starting from the (north) easternmost section of the airfield we are presented with a parked, old, two rear-engined jet aircraft which I could not find reference to, but it appears in Google Earth and being floodlit at night I would assume it is a known feature.

From the taxiway looking in. Pretty close I would say?

From the inside looking out. Is it real or is it FSX!?

Making our way around the northern perimeter we follow a long boundary fence that is bordered by a road with palm trees. Once we pass an open car park to the right and a fuel tanker park to the left we come across the control tower complex. The control tower building is very detailed right down to the circular concrete pillars  around the outside. The observation level does not have transparent glass like T2 but is a very acceptable assimilation.

From the top down view you really would have trouble distinguishing it from the real world as the following images shows.  The photographic images must have been sourced from the same supplier as Google so the "air-brushing" out of the real world ground clutter was very well done.

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FSX looking down on the tower and terminal 1
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Google Earth showing the same image.

Terminal 1, from airside, has 6 jetways. As with Terminal 2 these are not animated but Nice is the latest addition to Aerosoft's own Airport Enhancement Services (AES) addon and will cost in the region of 2 credits.   There are no docking aids either but the AES pack will add marshallers too.  From close up underneath the walkways you can see the gate numbers on the building and some fine detail in all the walkways.  I found one rogue texture on a pushback tug where the writing was reversed on the right hand side but that was it, a very finely modelled building.


The terminal 1 building 

Moving towards the freight area we pass quite a large fuel depot to the right. Two well known brands of Total and AirBP have offices but I only saw AirBP tankers modelled. This area looks quite accurate, as with the rest of the scenery it is placed on photo textures and nothing looks out of place.

Next up is the freight area, not very exciting but hey it's a freight terminal! This building is recognised by its label of FRET.  There is a recognisable DHL depot so check out your liveries as here is a great place to visit!

Leading out of the freight terminal there is an interesting statue of a man on the "Rond-Point du Voyager" possibly made of many rocks strung together.  Also in this area are two huge radar towers with static radar.  I don't know how difficult it is to animate the radars but I feel it would have just nicely finished it off.
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FRET terminal
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The two radar towers and the rocky man at dusk

So we move on to Terminal 2. Twice the number of jetways than Terminal 1 so you can have a lot more aircraft being served at once.  The main terminal building is fairly unremarkable except for some nicely modelled suspension spars.  From the outside, raised roadways bring the passengers in and out of the terminal.  The recent addition of the round building on the end of the terminal changes the run of the mill structure into a piece of high design architecture that you would expect on the Côte d'Azur.  I can see it was quite a task to undertake to model this but the results are brilliant, especially at night when you can see through the glass to the posters then out through the glass the other side!

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Terminal 2 by day
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And by night

Ok, so if you are still with me, we have two more areas to cover!

The GA facility is essentially a large parking area, it is served by a couple of plain looking buildings.  There are some airstairs and cargo containers around just adding a nice little touch to this otherwise bland area but the apron markings are very good.

From here, we take to our car and through a tunnel  (not modelled but clearly seen on the photo textures) underneath the main runways to the south of the airfield where the helicopter terminal is situated. If you like flying helicopters but are not too good with the landing, then there are plenty of pads to aim at!  Three much smaller terminal buildings here without too much detail but nicely textured. The photo textures add more detail from the air and this section looks stunning by night as well

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GA apron with plenty of parking
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Choose your spot, note the tunnel under runway

Airport Environs
Airports attract commerce and trade that spills outside the airport boundary.  You would expect to see hotels, banks and business parks, so are they here?  Yes in spades! There is quite a large area included with the airport that still has the same base photo scenery and modelled buildings on top.

Along the northern edge there are many bright and colourful hotels and banks. Also, there are a lot of other smaller buildings radiating out from the airport and to the west side of the river there is a huge factory.

The river looks to have quite a nice water mask which runs all the way inland to the edge of the photo scenery.  It's a shame the scenery ends there I was quite enjoying it!

The photo scenery adds such a lot of extra interest and is a wise inclusion especially for VFR/GA flyers like myself.

Lighting
With light bloom on, the airfield at night looks wonderful. Most areas have floodlighting and each helicopter pad has its own floodlight making them very distinctive.

There is no approach lighting here but it does have PAPI guidance (and ILS) with flashing white beacons at each end of the green threshold lights.  The centre lights run to bi-directional red and white lights towards the end of the runway and again, are accurately modelled here.

Taxiways do not have centre lighting, but raised blue rod type edge lighting, a feature of this airport and an unusual feature that takes a little getting used to.


Sunrise over the airport

Performance
It's nearly time to wrap this one up. What about performance?  My machine spec is fairly good and it has to be for FSX in general and other things I do like movie editing.  However, I feel sure this scenery will not make your machine groan under the weight of processing those pixels. I was running My Traffic 5.2a up full, scenery complexity very dense and autogen normal.  Not a stutter.  I have to use the excellent 3rd party FPS limiter utility to control stutter caused by my set up and this is pegged at 22FPS so all I saw was a smoothly running simulator, you can't ask for more than that.

Verdict
I think you can sense here from my enthusiasm that I enjoyed this quality piece of scenery from Aerosoft. I experienced very few niggles, no piece of software is ever perfect and what I did see didn't spoil my enjoyment.

Nice Côte d'Azur X is a superb rendition of this airport obviously developed by people at the zenith of their profession. This product truly represents excellent value for money.
 
My score? I can't quite give it a 10 (Sorry Mathijs, I want spinning radars!) but 8.5/10



/Joe Lawford


      
      System Requirements
  • Flight Simulator X (Acceleration or FSX SP2 required)
  • Windows XP / Vista / Windows7 with the latest Service Packs
  • Pentium 2 GHz (Duo2Core Intel or equivalent advised)
  • 1 GB RAM (2 GB recommended)
  • 256Mb graphics card (512 MB recommended)
  • 200Mb Download size
  • 390Mb hard drive space