Anchorage Professional Review

Introduction

Aviation is a necessity in Alaska. Only 2 percent of Alaska's landmass is accessible via roads, and 82 percent of Alaska's communities are not connected to the road system. Aviation is a lifeline and the main airport is a primary link in the supply chain for much of the state.

Anchorage Professional is the latest Sim-Wings product updated and recompiled with the Prepar3D V4 SDK to take advantage of the latest flight simulation technology.  At the heart of this scenery is Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ICAO: PANC). Built in 1951, ANC used to call itself the "air crossroads of the world" for the many intercontinental flights that stopped there to refuel on their way back and forth to Asia. That heyday is over, now that commercial airlines routinely cross the Pacific nonstop. However, for cargo flights, ANC remains a major fuel stop for airlines trying to ensure maximum payload capability. "Air crossroads of the cargo world" is a name that still fits. 

Also included in this package is Lake Hood seaplane base. (ICAO: PALH). ALH started out as two smaller lakes: Lake Hood to the west and Lake Spenard to the east. Back in the 1970s, the state began dredging out a canal in between the two to create seaplane take-off and taxi lanes. Today, in the summer months, ALH is host to nearly 200 daily operations and has become the largest and busiest seaplane base in the world. ALH is connected to ANC via a taxiway along several streets, and alongside the ALH is a dirt strip "Z41" which can be used by aircraft fitted with tundra tyres.

Location

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is a major airport in the south central region of the U.S. State of Alaska, located 5 miles south west of downtown Anchorage. It sits around 61° north at the terminus of the Cook Inlet, on a peninsula formed by the Knik Arm to the north and the Turnagain Arm to the south.

Features

Anchorage Professional is advertised with the following features:

Scenery of Anchorage Ted Stevens Airport with all buildings and facilities;
Photo realistic ground textures based on aerial imagery (15cm/pixel);
Detailed recreation of Lake Hood (LHD), including lots of static aircraft;
Configuration tool to enable or disable features like vehicle traffic and dynamic lighting;
Compatible with FTX South Alaska;
Includes landing strip Z41;
Animated ground vehicle traffic airside and towards the city with specific US vehicles;
Custom coastlines and a custom mesh covering the airport area;
Custom new elevation for continuous transition from the airport to its surroundings;
Complete taxiway and runway signage;
Night lighting with dynamic lights (can be deactivated via config tool);
Detailed, functional AFCAD files for all included airports;
True-to-original 3D runway and taxiway lighting, based on weather conditions;
Animated windsocks; and
All code (BGLs) compiled with P3D V4 SDK, using new material options.

Technical Requirements

The published technical requirement to run this scenery efficiently are as follows

Lockheed Martin - Prepar3D V4;
Microsoft Windows 7 / 8 / 10 (64bit);
CPU: Quad Core with 3.5 GHz;
RAM: 16 GB DDR4 RAM (2666 MHz);
Graphics card: 8 GB VRAM (DirectX 11);
Disk space: 4.5 GB free disk space, SSD highly recommended; and
Download Size: 4.4 GB.

Availability and Installation

Anchorage Professional is available from Aerosoft Store as a 'download only' product. It is priced at €30.20, or the equivalent on currency cross rates. The download file size is 4.1 GB and a key code is issued and required during installation. There is an additional optional installation of Aerosoft's "Nav Data Pro Charts" which you can use in offline mode to view a suite of 36 aeronautical charts. The installation process is easy and intuitive with the scenery automatically activated using the Add-ons method instead of adding it to your scenery.cfg file.

After installation, and before running P3D, a configuration tool should be run, especially if you own an older PC, this allows you to reduce vehicle traffic in and around the airport, switch off dynamic lighting if required, and a compatibility switch for users of Orbx's South Alaska region scenery.  

Scenery Coverage

Although the title is unspecific this product does not cover the city of Anchorage, just the aviation complex surrounding Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. This scenery covers an area of approximately 15.5 Sqm taking in the complete airport environs and several residential blocks to the north, east and south, and stretches to the shores of Cook Inlet to the west and northwest.

Level of Detail

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, along with the adjoining Lake Hood Seaplane Base, and the Lake Hood Strip covers a lot of ground, and in turn has a lot of detail. In addition to the two passenger terminals, there is a wide presence and variation of aviation related support buildings, and many warehousing facilities which you would expect with the world's 4th largest cargo hub. All the airport buildings look accurately placed when scanning the area in a top down view, and it looks like a lot of work went in to getting the positioning right. In the residential areas there is an adequate density of buildings sat on a photoscenery base giving a good overall representation of the area. There's not the attention to detail given to the airports, but enough to make it believable. Included with the scenery are a set of winter photoscenery tiles so the airfield looks as good, if not better, in winter as it does in the other seasons.

Main Airport. My initial impression of the main airport was, wow it covers a huge area, but where are all the aircraft? There are no static airline or cargo jets included with the scenery, unless you count the empennage of an aircraft sticking out of a hangar, and an old 737 in the Heritage Museum, so the airport looks lifeless and deserted (even with 100% traffic set). The scenery would benefit from a few real world liveried aircraft at the stands. This is the sort of place you need to use your favourite AI program to inject some life. However, bonus points for the ground car traffic (some custom) zooming around. On the north eastern boundary of Lake Hood there is a joint taxiway / road system along Lakeshore Drive so make sure your you turn crash detection off as you are bound to be hit.

The terminal buildings are functional looking and would win no prizes for architecture. However, the modelling is very good with the two terminal buildings having all the necessary attachments, such as jetways and piers. The main glazed sections have specular mapping so even though they are not transparent, they do give the impression of being reflective. Adjoining the main terminal is a rail depot which has very nicely modelled train, however, it is static too as there appears to be a problem animating it in P3Dv4. If you follow the rail track out of the airfield there are a couple of level crossings with warning signage included. As you make your way back in by road there are some high detail directions signs directing you to the South Terminal departures and arrivals. 

In the cargo areas you will see world brands adorning the warehouses such as FedEx, DHL, UPS and more local carriers like US Postal Services, which has a huge sorting depot between the North Terminal and the cargo area.  

There are a multitude of small buildings on site and are well worth exploring to appreciate how much work has gone into their creation, the fire station has the familiar training aircraft to set alight, which must be a joy for nervous passengers to see when taking off and landing on runway 33/15! The station also has some custom fire engines and trucks. As you would expect, there is a huge presence of Alaskan Airlines maintenance buildings and hangars sporting the eskimo logo of the airline.

The runways and interconnecting taxiways are well signed and in places have wig wags both buried in the tarmac and on upright signs, some runways / taxiways have barriers which in the real world are operated with several clicks of the PTT button on a set frequency. The runways and taxiways also show plenty of wear and tear, with cracks as well as staining on the main runways and aprons.

Lake Hood Sea Plane Base and Lake Hood Strip. Unlike the main airport there are literally scores of static GA aircraft here, being a GA strip and a seaplane base, and the world's busiest one at that, there are a lot of float planes moored up alongside the pontoons as well as private jetties. The main water runway at 4541 feet runs E/W along a straight man-made channel connecting two lakes. There are two other designated water runways, N/S at 1930 feet and SE/NW being the shortest one at only 1369 feet.

As I mentioned earlier, the Lake Hood complex is joined via a road/taxiway with Anchorage International Airport and it's difficult to work out where one ends ant the other starts. There are many parking areas for transient GA aircraft and a lot of the spaces are taken up with basic single prop models so looks less sleepy than the main airport. The airstrip is suited for tundra equipped aircraft, but the dirt surface is of good quality so standard wheeled aircraft can use it too.

This is a great place to explore the fjords and beautiful scenery, in the winter, when the lake freezes over, you can bolt on the skis to take off from the ice.

Quality of Objects

All objects are built to a high standard, there are so many different shapes and sizes, arcs and angles so you can tell it is modelled by someone with a lot of FS scenery design knowledge. Individually, a lot of the buildings do look basic but when taken as a whole, with the terminals, the sheer quantity of buildings helps to balance any perceived lack of detail.

Lighting and Sounds

Lighting. Superb, with the three runways and various taxiways, as you can imagine, there are hundreds of multi-coloured lights denoting the type of track you are on. On a couple of the approaches there is high and medium intensity approach lights with sequenced flashers.

Dynamic lighting of the apron and terminals is used in most areas, there are a couple of poles which are either missing the halo effect or the halo effect is floating in the air at twice the height of the pole. The dynamic lighting is also switchable from the control panel over 5 separate areas so for example, you can enjoy dynamic lighting on the International Terminal and not on the north and east aprons, that's a great idea to make the lighting scalable to your computer's performance. for example

Most of the important buildings also have a lighted effect on the windows, a you would expect, however, the residential area seemed eerily dark with the absence of custom or default street lighting.

Sounds. If you are on foot taking in the surroundings then you will hear ambient sounds all around you, they do sound more like the countryside than an airport but pleasant nonetheless. As sound as an enging has started, or you are inside the cockpit you are not aware of these sounds.

Performance

I had no issues with frame speed, flying a single piston prop aircraft around at extremely high scenery density, and high-quality settings still gave me a smooth transition between views and panning around. It would be worth remembering though that even with my traffic sliders at 100% I had very little traffic to slow my system down so performance may suffer a bit more with a lot of AI.

Documentation

Adequate – Once you discard the German or English language version, adverts for other product and information on Avatar Frank (which wasn't selectable on my system), the useful information on performance and use of the configuration tool amounted to 2.5 pages. There is some good advice about the preferred lighting settings and the included congig tool.

Included with this scenery is a fantastic selection of charts for Anchorage, and the NavDataPro chart viewer, this has to be run in offline mode to see the charts unless you already subscribe to Aerosoft's NavDataPro service.

Value for Money

This scenery is priced near the top end of Aerosoft's published sceneries with only the likes of London, Frankfurt and Barcelona coming in at around €5 more. It's a big airfield and has a lot included so I would consider this product good value for money.

Review Computer Specifications

The specifications of the computer on which the review was conducted are as follows:

Intel i9, 7900X CPU, 10 Core, 4.3GHz;
Asus Prime X299 Deluxe;
MSI NVidia GTX1080Ti Gaming X, 11GB;
32GB Corsair Vengeance, 3200MHz, DDR4;
Windows 10 Professional (64bit); and
Lockheed Martin P3D Version 4.2.21.24048.

Additional Major Add-ons. ASP4 (Active Sky for Prepar3D v4), FS Global Ultimate Next Gen Mesh, Orbx FTX Global BASE, Orbx FTX Global VECTOR, Orbx FTX Global openLC series, Orbx FTX region series, Orbx FTX airport series, Turbulent Designs TerraFlora Trees, and PTA2 shaders.

Please note, the screenshots above include updated custom trees so may not reflect what you see in the sim as standard with this scenery.

Conclusion

Anchorage Professional is a well modelled, and a very detailed product in a great location. I have really enjoyed discovering this airport and its smaller buddies and would whole heartedly recommend it.


Verdict and Scores

Verdict

If you are a keen long distance hauler, or at the opposite end of the scale, a bush or float plane pilot then this scenery is going to feel more than worth the €30.20 price tag.

Scores

For
Against
Category
Score
Good scenery coverage Not enough static aircraft Scenery Coverage 9.0
Good variation of scenery objects Summer photoscenery a bit washed out. Level of Detail 9.0
Good performance . Quality of Objects 9.0
Good lighting . Documentation 8.5
Very good winter textures . Performance 9.5
. . Value for Money 8.5

Overall Score

Anchorage Professional is awarded an overall Mutley's Hangar score of 8.9/10,
with a "Recommended" and a Mutley's Hangar Silver Award.